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July 9, 2006

Internal events: Are your employees experienced?

Events – be they trade shows, concerts, corporate conferences or roadshows – are probably the most effective and tangible way of bringing brands to life. They can engage all the senses of the visitor, creating atmosphere, excitement and, above all, a real experience.

But this sort of experience can be all too often reserved for customers. The reality, however, is that every organisation also needs to effectively engage with its employees in order to get them to understand and be truly behind the brand. Brands need to be built from the inside out.

“Internal brand communications are as important as external/consumer-focused communications,” says Ian Irving, sales and marketing director at experiential events company Sledge. “In most cases, company employees are the most valuable asset an organisation has.”

If employees truly understand a company’s brand image they will understand why and how this image is communicated. They will understand the marketplace that the business is in, why it is positioned where it is, where the company aims to be (both short and long term) and how it plans to achieve these goals.

“By allowing employees the opportunity to understand all the elements that make a brand what it is, they will feel much more a part of the business and in turn be much more passionate about their work and loyal to the organisation,” concludes Irving. “Modern consumers take functional features and benefits, and product/service quality as a given, but where a business can really add value and gain a competitive advantage is with the level of service from it’s employees.”

By creating an event that brings a brand and your company’s message to life, you can immerse your employees in this environment and communicate to them in a powerful, effective, engaging and, most importantly, memorable way.

A company like oil giant BP takes its brand and brand values very seriously, so much so that all its internal events – including the annual general meeting – are an explosion of the multi-national’s vision and values. “Perhaps the true indicator of the BP commitment to its brand is the style of its internal awards ceremony, the Helios Awards,” says Stagestruck’s founding director Simon Bagnall. “This global event credits projects that are great examples of the organisation’s living brand values of performance, care for the environment, innovation and progressive development, with any BP employee from forecourt attendant to regional manager given the opportunity to enter. What’s more, the commitment is followed right through as BP’s chief executive Lord Browne attends the annual event, together with several other senior staff members.”

Microsoft, too, is another organisation that believes in the power of internal brand values. “We produce a summer party for Microsoft,” says Irving. “Purely as a reward to the its employees – Microsoft spends a substantial amount every year just to say thanks. This kind of event doesn’t need messages to be delivered in a hard-sell style. Microsoft simply wants to say thank you, and by doing this in a credible and effective way, it inspires passion and loyalty into its large UK team.”

We remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see and 80% of what we experience, according to the famous 20th century humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow, and many companies are starting to realise the huge benefits of creating a tangible brand experience for their customers. Now it’s time to make sure you harness the same power to train, motivate and retain your employees, which will in turn boost customer service, operational efficiency and cut recruitment costs.

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