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April 4, 2008

Ian Irving: Bringing brands alive on the inside

Over the past six months Sledge has seen a marked increase in the number of briefs asking us to create brand experiences aimed at engaging internal audiences.

So, is it that brand experience marketing is becoming more accepted by marketers, and using it internally offers a convenient way of dipping their toe in the water with a ‘safe’ audience? Or, is it the initiative of the forward-thinking internal communications team, who appreciate that brand experiences are a more effective way to fully immerse their staff in their brand, its products and services?

Joining the experience
It’s obvious that marketers are keen to get involved in brand experience marketing; a recent business report stated that although only a small percentage of marketers currently use brand experiences but over 60 percent wanted to do so in the future. The forward-thinking associations, agencies and intermediaries are now all involved in brand experience marketing, which can only add credence to the effectiveness and power of the medium.

But where is the budget coming from? Is the marketing budget still kept in a different purse to the internal comms budget or are clever companies combining the two in order to fully communicate with all audiences – whether they be internal, external or third parties?

We are all consumers

Different audiences need different messages but the communication method could be the same. We are all consumers. Just because Fred is an employee doesn’t mean that he isn’t marketing savvy and aware of who’s communicating with him and why. When an employee shuts his computer down at the end of the day he may go to a gig, a shopping centre or a museum. He is a sophisticated consumer and familiar with modern communication methods; it’s likely that he has been engaged in more than a few brand experiences in his time. So why do some companies think that he will be responsive to boring internal marketing and dull lifeless conferences?

Many brands have long recognised the power of face-to-face activity for internal communications but are now engaging in deeper more immersive experiences akin to those being used for consumer audiences.

Making your audience advocates
Fully immersive brand experiences engage the audience and turn them into advocates. So it’s logical to use this power internally - if it’s not an effective way to educate and empower a work force then a company should just throw in the towel and shut up shop!

The type of company that is benefiting from internal brand experiences is the one with a disparate or fragmented work force – with maybe several different unrelated brands or a work force spread over many locations.

I know that this trend won’t herald the end of the internal conference. But I’m interested in others’ experience and welcome feedback though the usual channels.

Ian Irving is sales and marketing director of Sledge

Related items
INSIDER EXPERIENCE: How events can make employees brand ambassadors
INSIDER EXPERIENCE 2: The rules of engagement
Internal events: Are your employees experienced?
INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS: Making your messages Crystal clear
Research shows poor internal communications hit the bottom line

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