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How to build a strong internal brand voice

6 min read

How to build a strong internal brand voice

We’ve all heard about the importance of creating a unified, consistent, and appealing brand voice. While this is almost exclusively discussed in an external marketing context, your internal brand voice is just as important to the success of your business.

A strong internal brand voice can boost employee engagement, increase motivation, and build trust. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff have been looking to their employers for information and guidance more than ever before. With this, you have a unique opportunity to strengthen trust and build closer bonds across your teams. 

Creating an internal brand voice that feels human and tells employees, “We hear you, we see you,” is vital in building trust and helping employees become brand promoters.

Your internal brand voice should not only give confidence and clarity to your employees, but also empower them to contribute to its success. By allowing staff to add their stories and feedback to your company’s internal communications, you can build an internal brand voice made by and for your employees.

So what exactly is an internal brand voice?

Your internal brand voice reflects a distinct personality just like a real person’s style of speech with its tone, common phrases, and quirks. These are conveyed in everything from the greetings you use (‘Howdy!’ vs. ‘Dear Colleagues’) to whether you speak in the first or third person. Even the frequency with which you use emojis and GIFs says a lot about your internal brand voice.

Your internal brand voice could be relaxed, conversational, and informal. Or it can be authoritative and geared towards providing key company information. Once implemented, it should be clear and unified across all of your company platforms and teams—from your IT department memos to your marketing newsletter. It should also match your external brand voice. 

Why does internal brand voice matter?

Your internal brand voice is synonymous with your company’s values. If your employees sense detachment or a lack of clarity from your internal communications, they are more likely to feel equally confused about the company’s vision and their place in it.

A strong internal brand voice gives employees the tools to adopt brand values and begin to embody them across various touchpoints of communications—both with each other and clients. Lululemon is a great role model for this. Their #Joblove campaign invited employees to get real and tell their stories of life on the job. The initiative not only encouraged staff to incorporate their own voice into the internal brand, but it did so through a down-to-earth tone and straightforward language that echoed their brand ethos: “We believe in a lot of things. Sweating once a day. Flossing. Having daily dance parties. Above all, we believe in self-empowerment…#Joblove”

Your internal brand voice should always be genuine and authentic—anything less and your teams will see right through the corny slogans, and become skeptics rather than ambassadors of your brand.

How to build a strong internal brand voice

1. Clearly define your company values and vision

Start thinking of your brand as a persona that embodies your company’s principles and is eager to promote them. How would they speak about their values? What words would they use and which attitudes would they convey? Would they talk informally, using jokes and anecdotes, or adopt more polished and bold vocabulary?

Involving your employees in the process of determining your core values will help establish an internal brand voice that accurately represents everyone on your team. Zappos is a great example of a company that leveraged employee input to create a cohesive and unique internal brand voice. Employees were asked to submit ideas to a list of 10 core company values. These then translated to their internal communications through mottos like “be humble” and “deliver WOW,” adding up to an internal brand voice that’s purposely built by and for its employees.

2. Talk with people, not at them

If you want to keep your teams engaged, It’s important to create frequent conversations rather than just pass on information. A strong internal brand voice is not just about the words you use, but the constant evolution of it as your organization grows. 

Using inclusive language and asking questions will allow your employees to feel like you’re addressing them as individuals rather than just another name on an email list. Perceive your internal brand voice as a real character. How would this individual act at a dinner party? Would they overpower the conversation or are they open to listening to different perspectives?

While a key job of your internal brand voice is to instill guidance, it doesn’t have to be commanding nor dictating. Starbucks does a great job of establishing this balance by addressing their employees as “partners”, adding a collaborative feel to their internal communications whilst allowing individuals to show up as their authentic selves.

You can go one step further with the frequent pursuit of employee feedback. ContactMonkey’s embedded pulse surveys use emoji reactions, star ratings, and thumbs up/down options to support a playful and inclusive internal brand voice by encouraging employees to become actively engaged and contribute their viewpoints. 

Zeroing in on social interaction and capturing employee voices, their wants, and needs is also the specialty of intranet software. Jostle provides multiple ways for employees to share their thoughts and contribute to discussion boards that essentially build internal brand voice in real-time. 

3. Ditch the jargon

Your internal brand voice should be a vehicle for building trust and providing clarity for your employees. A sure way to undermine that is by packing your internal communications with technical jargon and doublespeak. 

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small-scale startup, prioritizing simple language is key. Clear writing ensures that your content is accessible to everyone and doesn’t create skepticism about what’s being hidden behind the intricate wording.

Google is a forerunner of jargon-free communications. They complement their external brand with clear, uncomplicated language and inclusive mottos in their internal communications. This is exemplified by the straightforward tagline “For everyone” on their careers page.

4. Be consistent with your style 

Your internal brand voice reflects the personality of your company. It should be unique and specific, but also cohesive. If your style fluctuates from one piece of communication to the next, your employees will struggle to understand what your brand is really about; let alone channel it themselves. 

Conveying a unified internal brand voice means standardizing your communications style across different outlets—from your employee newsletter to company announcements. This consistency can be a tough job for today’s communications professionals. The available software, social media platforms, and tech tools are endless. And that means paying extra attention to sustaining a unified internal brand voice across all channels—from mobile apps and social media to the trusty old email. 

A style guide can help your internal communications team represent your brand in a unified way across multiple platforms. This is especially important if your company is growing, with more people and teams in charge of conveying your internal brand voice. Your style guide should combine messaging (vocabulary, slogans, and key phrases) with visuals (graphics, colours, and formats). 

An intranet helps consolidate your internal communications channels into a single platform to simplify the job of standardizing your internal brand voice and living out your organizational culture. As a one-stop-shop for company news, virtual event announcements, important guidelines, and individual conversations, Jostle allows communications managers to easily match voice and style across multiple outlets.

5. Strengthen your internal brand voice through storytelling

Stories are 22 times more powerful at helping us retain information than mere facts and figures. By increasing our neural activity, stories allow us to engage with information on a more personal and emotional level.

Combining clear, inclusive language with great storytelling will help build a strong internal brand voice by allowing employees to see themselves as part of the larger company vision. A CEO who tells a great brand origin story not only has a chance to set the tone and style of the internal brand voice, but can inspire employees much more than a presentation deck of ambiguous cultural descriptions. At Jostle, new employees are also invited to contribute their own voice to the company’s internal communications through storytelling. By posting a short, memorable bio story and fun facts to the company intranet, they contribute their own unique flare to the overarching internal brand voice.

6. Don’t forget about the visuals

Words are at the heart of your internal brand voice, but if your speech doesn’t match the presentation, your brand voice will come off as awkward or inauthentic. Your company personality also includes the visuals that your employees associate with it. ContactMonkey’s email template builder can help you create dynamic visuals, tailored to the spirit of your internal brand voice. You’ll be able to create branded templates and set your default brand fonts, custom colours and layouts. For an even more seamless way to channel your internal brand voice across large communications teams, try ContactMonkey’s email collaboration tool. Up to five users can work on an email template at once and view changes in real-time.

Conclusion

Your internal brand voice can be a powerful tool for uniting employees if developed properly. Once you know what you want your brand voice to sound like and how it should be delivered, it’s important to ensure that it stays consistent while being relevant to the times. Using intranet software like Jostle alongside an internal communications tool like ContactMonkey will make connecting your team and defining your brand voice a whole lot easier.

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Mariya Postelnyak

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