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Etymology: It starts at home: Using words to woo your people

Posted by: Paola Norambuena on February 23, 2011

A brand's verbal strategy—from your naming architecture to your messaging and the brand voice you dress it all up in—boils down to an artful seduction: We use words to woo. It's all about driving your audiences to choose you and then inspiring them to stay loyal and true.

But too often, organizations make the mistake of beginning and ending that courtship with external audiences, when they first should focus on the home front.

Great brands know that their internal verbal strategy needs to reflect the external-facing one. Your people are your greatest asset, but they will stop singing your praises if you are not attentive. Time spent on training a disengaged work force will suddenly be out-sized to other organizational efforts.

If, on the other hand, you show your people the care they deserve, they'll repay you many times over with brand evangelism and loyalty. It saves time and energy in recruiting and training, and you'll reap the benefits of focused, dedicated team players shining your brand's best attributes outward into all their customer-facing interactions.

Skeptical about the wisdom of the internal investment? The details from Interbrand's research on the subject are compelling, as discussed by Tom Zara in "Changing the World from the Inside Out: Engaging Employees via Corporate Citizenship."

In a time when business strategists are crowdsourcing solutions from every exterior source, it's also advisable—even imperative—to turn within for answers to challenges and creative questions facing your organization, as Interbrand's Jeff Mancini argues.

So when your verbal strategy for internal brand engagement mirrors the ideal verbal strategy for all your other audiences, it means:

Get the messages straight. Your people need to know what your brand stands for, and what you expect from them. Getting your team to act like they're on your team is essential, and the only way to do that is to use messaging to tell them in no uncertain terms what the organization stands for. Values, identity, authenticity—all these things are equally important to employees as they are to customers.

Watch your tone. Words matter. Tone matters. Use your brand voice internally to demonstrate to your people how the brand speaks when it faces outside, what its values are. The more they get a chance to use your brand voice, the more people internalize the personality of your brand—and turn that effort into behavior.

Name judiciously. There's such a thing as over-naming. There are also such things as under-naming; and these represent wasted opportunities to engage effectively with internal audiences. A benefits program, a code of conduct, an affinity group, an initiative in the workplace—think long and hard about how to use naming for these internal-facing entities to further rally your troops around your brand.

Connect with the people who represent you, and it will boost the success of all you do in the wider world. When it comes to verbal identity, don't forget to love the ones you're with.

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