Open access peer-reviewed chapter - ONLINE FIRST

Living the Brand

Written By

Michelle Wolfswinkel and Carla Enslin

Submitted: February 11th, 2022 Reviewed: March 2nd, 2022 Published: May 7th, 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.104174

IntechOpen
Brand Management Edited by František Pollák

From the Edited Volume

Brand Management [Working Title]

Associate Prof. František Pollák and Prof. Peter Markovic

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Abstract

The way employees embody brand purpose and values build or erode the brand’s equity. It is people who bring the brand to life as they interact with brand stakeholders across brand contact points over time. Traditionally, brand management is concerned with the corporate and customer-facing brands. Inside organizations, the functional ownership of the employer and internal brand often resides with human resources management, with brand management having varying levels of involvement. Yet it is the employer and internal brand that defines the brand’s culture organization wide, straddling the theoretical domains of business, brand, marketing, corporate communication, human resources, talent management and more. In this chapter, we’ll explore the nature and purpose of the employer and internal brand, discuss approaches to the alignment thereof, and propose ways in which a strategically aligned leadership team can ensure brand alignment, co-creation, loyalty and advocacy through people living the brand.

Keywords

  • brand
  • employer brand
  • internal brand
  • corporate brand
  • strategic brand management

1. Introduction

Brands are dependent upon people to bring the brand to life. A brand is so much more than a symbol, sign or name that distinguishes one brand from another in the marketplace. We know that brands evoke deeply personal reactions from people – reactions based on their knowledge of the brand, experience and associations with it [1]. Today’s top brands rely on their employees to live the brand purpose and values in their daily work, and in so doing, bring the intangible to life in a tangible way [2]. Given the potential that resides in employees to make or break a brand through the ways in which they portray the brand, it is imperative that brand management are invested in the strategic brand management of the employer brand and internal brand, and that cross-functional leadership across brand, human resources and line management realize and revere their role in building the brand through people [3].

The field of strategic brand building has pivoted almost completely from being product-led to being brand-led. A holistic stakeholder orientation is key to being brand-led. While former brand building attempts may have predominantly focused on the product or service features and benefits from a customer marketing perspective, a brand-led stakeholder orientation sees the brand focusing on its unique value as it is co-created by a collaborative of internal and external brand stakeholders in its ecosystem [4]. Brand-led organizations have come to realize that their performance and ability to sustain the organizational purpose over time depends entirely on meaningful participative stakeholder relationships [5]. Systemically, such an ecosystem of stakeholder relations depends in essence on those leading and employed by the brand. More specifically, the deep commitment to lead and serve the brand inspires and sustains relationships with other stakeholders – from suppliers to top talent to customers [6]. We believe that the relationship between the brand and its employees is central to strategic brand building. The brand’s success depends on the degree to which employees identify with and internalize the brand’s purpose and portray its values through their behavior in all decisions and actions at each and every touchpoint with other stakeholders [7].

‘Living the brand’ may be a term that’s familiar, overused even, but it beautifully encapsulates both the action and the consequence of employees behaving and acting in ways that are aligned to the brand purpose and values, thereby breathing life into everything the brand stands for and holds dear. As Interbrand’s latest global research report confirms, leadership teams find it challenging to identify and craft a unique and compelling and authentic purpose. However, what they find remarkably hard is ensuring that it is served. A meaningful daily lived brand reality would see all employees delivering on-brand not because they must, but because they genuinely want to [8].

We explain the term ‘living the brand’ as follows for the purpose of this book chapter:

Living the brand is the output of brand-aligned behaviors and high levels of brand engagement by employees during the course of their daily work [9].

The input required for this output of ‘living the brand’ is strategic brand building centered on employees as a major brand stakeholder, the alignment of employer and internal brands to the overall brand, and the strategic alignment of cross-functional leadership in support of employees living the brand’s purpose and values [2, 10].

In this chapter we are concerned with the strategic brand building foundations required for ‘living the brand’, providing brand management, human resources management and line management with foundational guidelines, principles and practices to ultimately deliver the output of employees that bring the brand to life and build brand strength.

Positioned as a perspective on the field of study, the research methodology draws on a synthesis of the current state of literature through a critical or integrative review of literature pertaining to the employer brand, internal brand and employee brand experience and engagement. In particular, the review features the findings and proposed frameworks put forth in two articles published in peer reviewed journals by the authors: the findings of a study exploring the use of brand building practices to attract and retain talent in top brands [6], and further insights from this study which examines the role of the corporate brand in talent attraction and retention [11]. The perspective provided is also informed by the findings from an rigorous literature review that integrates the work of 118 literature sources, including seminal authors and prominent studies in the field of employer branding, internal branding, brand consistently and coherence, and employee engagement and experience [12].

The chapter unfolds according to the following diagram, which depicts the foundational guidelines that organizational leadership should follow to ensure that employees are positioned with integrity, driven to live the brand, as well as helpful principles and practices that will strengthen the employee-brand relationship and motivate brand-aligned behaviors and brand engagement in employees.

A brief overview of the foundational guidelines for living the brand presented in Figure 1: at the center of the figure is the fundamental starting point of all strategic brand building, namely gaining clarity about the brand’s reason for existence – the brand purpose and overarching identity. Once a unique, compelling and authentic brand identity has been clearly documented as leaderships’ commitment to stakeholders, strategic leadership alignment is required (depicted in Figure 1 as the gray circle around the purposeful brand identity). This strategic leadership alignment then pulls through to the many different brand building platforms and contact or touchpoints, across the brand’s ecosystem by developing and investing in the employer brand and the internal brand, as shown in Figure 1. Congruent brand building across the employer, internal and other brand building platforms yields brand coherence, shown in Figure 1 as the space within which all brand building is held. This presents a perfect launch pad for implementing the principles and practices that is provided herein for living the brand.

Figure 1.

Foundational guidelines for living the brand.

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2. Clarity: purposeful brand identity as the starting point for living the brand

The starting point of all strategic brand building is a clearly articulated brand identity system [1], comprised of, a purposeful brand positioning upheld by a particular personality and value set and working towards a meaningful long-term vision (see Figure 2) [13, 14].

Figure 2.

Purposeful brand identity system [13].

Once developed and documented, the brand identity system is often referred to as a brand book, manual or guide. As such, it also presents clear guidelines on how the brand identity elements mentioned above come to life in visual and verbal language, such as the brand name and logo, the tagline or strapline and perhaps a brand mantra to guide and nurture the internal brand culture [14]. Contemporary brands are furthermore clear on how the brand’s identity system manifests in daily behaviors and how these ‘on-brand’ behaviors are valued and lived in dedicated units, departments, processes, systems, roles or functions [6, 13, 14]. Of significance to this chapter is that a brand’s identity system serves at the heart of the brand-led organization and informs all employer brand building [2, 15].

An ill developed or defined brand identity system potentially leads to misinterpretation and brand behavior that erodes purposeful brand building. Founders and leaders should take responsibility for capturing the brand identity in clear and committed terms [4, 14]. Given the brand-led argument presented in the introduction to this chapter, the brand identity system presents the brand’s purpose and commitment to stakeholders. It holds leaders focused and accountable and it guides and supports every employee and for that matter every other key stakeholder in the behavioral significance of their role and contribution. As such a brand identity system ultimately informs every decision and action within the brand’s ecosystem – from mergers and acquisitions to new product development or stakeholder alliances and from internal to external brand communication campaigns [14, 16]. Given the focus of this chapter, it should serve as a constant guide and source of inspiration to the employer brand and internal brand.

While a clear and committed brand identity system seems to be a logical point of departure, and leadership and management may believe that the brand’s meaning is clearly articulated and coherently communicated, research suggests otherwise. In organizations that remain predominantly product or service and customer-marketing oriented the brand identity system may be functionally assigned to the marketing department for brand building purposes, with the rest of the company having limited understanding of and exposure to the brand and its purpose strategy [2]. Recent studies also show that brand management have limited or varying involvement with their human resources counterparts’ brand building to attract and retain talented employees. As such, employees may be experiencing vague or inconsistent brand building, which dilutes the brand’s purpose and potential [6, 16, 17].

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3. Strategic leadership alignment and living the brand

With a clear and committed brand identity system in place, strategic leadership alignment is required to ensure that the brand is congruently instilled in the brand’s culture, engaging employees and other stakeholders. Strategic leadership alignment requires leaders from cross-functional organizational areas adopting and supporting the brand and committing to leadership behaviors that uphold all that the brand stands for and promises [10, 14].

Leaders have an important role to play in modeling brand aligned behaviors to employees, and constantly returning to the navigational guidelines in the brand identity system to inform their own and others’ daily work decisions, actions and deliverables [2, 9].

For employees to be able to live the brand, strategic leadership need to be aligned in terms of what living the brand means in their own context, how they will motivate and encourage employees to live the brand, hold themselves and others accountable, reward or recognize those who live the brand well, and reinforce employee engagement and loyalty to the brand [4, 9, 17].

It is among the leadership of brand led organizations that we note the rise and growth of participative leadership philosophies and cultures. A leadership and management team committed to the unique value delivered by the brand is also deeply aware that such value is co-created by a collaborative of internal and external brand stakeholders. They are above all mindful of the central role that the employer and internal brand play in building a brand ecosystem in which employee and stakeholder relationships are brand inspired, aligned and fruitful [4, 8].

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4. Employer brand and living the brand

The employer brand comprises the sum total of benefits and features related to employment that an employer would want to be known for and is used to attract prospective talented employees to the brand as an organization [18]. In a high demand, short supply labor marketplace, the employer brand sees the application of brand building practices to the human resources recruitment function. An appealing, differentiated employer brand allows the employer to stand out from others vying for the same small pool of talented employees, providing a competitive advantage in attracting top talent who offer desirable skill sets and proven performance results high levels of potential for future growth and development, and show high levels of alignment to the purpose and values of the employer brand [9, 18].

As part of the employer brand, the employee value proposition (EVP) captures the benefits and unique value associated with employment. The EVP may include attractive financial rewards and/or appealing features related to the working environment, contract of employment, benefits or learning and development opportunities [6, 18].

The employer brand straddles two different functional areas in business. As a recruitment tool that sets out to attract talent employees and persuade them to join the company, the employer brand seems to fit in the human resources management or talent management function. As a brand construct that portrays the purpose and values of the brand outwards to brand stakeholders, the employer brand also fits into the brand leadership and brand management stable [3].

The employer brand has a dual nature and function: firstly to attract talented prospective employees to the organization, and secondly to build overall brand strength and coherence through aligned, congruent brand building efforts [18, 19].

Figure 1 depicts the employer brand emanating out of strategic brand leadership alignment around a clarified and purposeful brand identity at the center, which sees the purpose and values that lie at the core of the organization, being driven outwards by the employer brand. In return, the employer brand’s brand building efforts reinforce and strengthen the brand identity that lies at the core of the brand through the many touchpoints that brand stakeholders have with the employer brand over time [6]. While the target market of the employer brand is prospective talented employees, the employer brand touches an entire ecosystem of brand stakeholders [19, 20].

Given the dual nature and function of the employer brand, it is understandable that employer brand creation and management is fragmented and disparate in both literature and practice. Importantly, there appears to be varying levels of involvement from brand management in employer brand creation and management [6, 21]. This presents a challenge to the employer brand in terms of fulfilling its key role in attracting employees that can optimally live the brand.

Employer brand building should target those potential talented employees that would add optimal value to the organization and its brand purpose in terms of their purpose-fit with the brand and their skill set [17, 20]. As such, the creation of employer brands should be a collaborative effort between human resources or talent management, brand or marketing management, leadership and line management [3, 6].

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5. Internal brand and living the brand

Figure 1 shows the employer brand and internal brand emanating from strategically aligned leadership behind the clarified brand purpose. The arrows around the employer brand and internal brand depict the alignment between these two employee brand building platforms – an alignment which adds to the building of brand coherence.

The terms ‘employer brand’ and ‘internal brand’ are often used interchangeably, and both definitions have evolved over time. There are, however, clear distinctions between the employer brand and the internal brand in terms of their targeted audience, goals and contribution to living the brand. Whilst the employer brand targets prospective employees outside the company, the internal brand is concerned with current employees inside the company. The goal of the employer brand is to attract potential employees by positioning the brand purpose and by aligning the appealing benefits and features associated with employment. The goal of the internal brand is to retain the services of talented employees by delivering on the promises made by the employer brand in the employment experience [7, 18]. Whilst the employer brand attracts those employees that will authentically and optimally live the brand, the internal brand embeds and nurtures the brand purpose, vision, values and respected behaviors with employees, to build genuine and deep engagement and foster a lived brand in their daily work [7].

Functionally, a wide range of role-players and activities contribute to the internal brand. Internal brand building involves:

  • Human resources management related to the employment contract and experience, such as salaries and benefits, and policies and procedures,

  • Brand building and internal communication

  • Leadership and line-management approaches and behaviors

  • Workplace and working environment, conditions and requirements [7].

  • And a myriad of internal and external formal and informal, planned and unplanned touchpoints influencing what employees come to think, feel and believe about the organization that they work for [18, 21].

In Figure 1, the internal brand and employer brand exist in context of the brand identity system, as it provides the purpose and values that drives all internal brand building behaviors, whilst the internal brand also reinforces and strengthens the brand identity by guiding and supporting current employees in embodiment of the brand purpose in their engagements and collaborations with brand stakeholders [20].

The interrelatedness of the internal brand with the employer brand depicted in Figure 1 also flows both ways. The employer brand hands over to the internal brand once a potential employee has been recruited and employed, after which the internal brand is expected to deliver on promises made by the employer brand in the employment experience [7]. The internal brand also influences the employer brand as current employees’ testimony and experience have an impact on the way in which the brand purposefully positions itself to prospective employees [20].

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6. Brand coherence and living the brand

When the organizational brand, employer and internal brand deliver in unison, congruent brand messages, behaviors and experiences across touchpoints with all brand stakeholders, it is evident that a committed leadership is investing in building an authentic and trustworthy brand [4, 14].

Brand coherence is achieved when all internal and external, formal and informal brand building platforms and contact points align, so that brand stakeholders experience the brand as true to its purpose and values in all that it does, whether a stakeholder engages with the brand as a customer, through an employee or as a supplier or community stakeholder [4, 5].

Strong company brands are immensely valuable, and this value is heavily dependent on the coherence with which the brand lives [14].

Brands have thus evolved from focusing primarily on the strategic direction of their planned marketing and communication campaigns to being fully alert to the impact of all their touchpoints, and in particular those most critical - those points of brand resonance with the most impact on stakeholders because of what the brand stands for. Equipped with sophisticated analytics and meaningful insights into stakeholder experiences, the brands of today are able to practice cohesive strategic thinking to realize the potential of the touchpoints that matter most. When a unique and compelling purpose becomes an organization’s chief pursuit and natural way of thinking and doing (a living brand philosophy, so to speak), across all brand, employer and internal brand touchpoints a meaningful brand is brought into existence. Enabled by its leadership and participative culture, employees are inspired and supported to operate in a mindful and nimble manner to create and deliver brand experiences that are always congruent with the brand’s identity and unique reason for being [4, 17].

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7. Principles and practices for living the brand

Figure 1 shows how the aligned employer and internal brand contribute to the building of brand coherence. Four arrows are shown to flow outwards from brand coherence, depicting the following four principles and related practices for living the brand. It is important to note these principles and related practices should preferably only be deployed from a place of brand alignment, where all the fundamental building blocks of clarified brand identity system, strategically aligned leadership, and an employer and internal brand that builds brand coherence is possible. The reason for this is that the principles and related practices essentially present deeper insights from leading global brands, scholars and experts that will allow companies to mobilize and boost the ways in which they set the stage for living the brand.

Four principles and related practices are discussed, along with examples and practical guidelines for implementation.

7.1 Living the brand principle and related practice 1: Rallying behind the brand purpose for meaningful work

Neumeier applies three specific questions for the development of a unique and compelling statement of purpose: who are you, what do you do and why does it matter? The reason for existence of an organization emerges when it exposes why it does what it does and believes what it believes in [15].

We have established that a meaningful brand is a committed and principled brand. A brand that proclaims its purpose as an enhanced customer experience yet neglects its relationships with its own employees is not a brand with sustainable purpose. We have also reasoned that no internal brand community can simply be instructed to believe in the brand. The brand purpose forms such an intrinsic part of the organization and there must be compelling reason to believe that the brand actually matters [4, 14].

Recent studies have shown that employees are attracted to purpose-driven brands that add to the greater good and are eager to be part of the greater purpose of the brand [6, 19]. However, such studies also reveal that employees should be given an opportunity to contribute to the purpose and live the purpose through meaningful work [9, 15]. Employees should be shown how their work contributes to the fulfillment of the larger brand purpose and be encouraged to add value in the most appropriate way that they can. Daily work should be positioned in context of purpose, so that meaning is found in employment and work [16, 22]. Consequently leading brands encourage and enable their employees to become involved in purpose-driven initiatives, and to contribute practically to initiatives through hands-on work and advocacy through personal testimonies and stories [22].

There is a delicate relationship between the stated purpose and the lived reality of employees, a relationship that depends on a participative leadership culture and on integrity, transparency and trust in the value being upheld by all employees and in all work activities [9, 22].

7.2 Living the brand principle and related practice 2: Attract and retain the right employees

Brands should be clear and particular about the employees that the brand attracts and retains. The brand identity system and the cohesion of its lived reality depends on all employer and internal brand building efforts [5].

A global talent shortage means that talented, highly skilled employees are in high demand, but short supply. With companies competing against each other to attract and retain the services of talented employees from an ever-shrinking pool of skilled workers, it seems counter-intuitive to be too particular about the skills and attributes required for employment. Yet, leading global brands maintain that they hold aspirational standards for employment, and only those who meet all standards are considered for employment [6, 19]. These aspirational standards do not only include skills and qualifications required, but the type of attributes expected in terms of personal purpose, values and goals. Brands that hold the brand identity and requirements for living the brand central to attraction and retention of employees, invest the time and resources required to engage the right people [3, 16]. This investment pays off when the right employees are aligned and committed to the brand’s purpose, and naturally live the brand values and behaviors as part of their daily decision-making and work [9]. Without meticulous requirements and expectations guiding the attraction and retention of employees, the employee-brand fit will be unlikely, which not only negatively impacts the brand and its ecosystem of stakeholders, but is also detrimental to employee engagement and retention [10].

Leading brands drive this principle and practice by ensuring cross-functional leadership collaboration in the identification and specification of the talented employees required to ensure that the organizational brand meets its strategic objectives. An overarching talent council or forum, which includes leaders from different functional or business units, oversees the talent requirements, efforts, and management. This talent forum is tasked with ensuring that potential talented employees are measured against clearly articulated requirements in terms of their personal and professional alignment to the brand purpose, values, and the way in which the brand should be brought to life in all stakeholder engagements. Potential applicants are screened against these requirements and assessed to gain insight into their personality, values and likely behavior at work [6, 20]. Respected brand behaviors are formalized in the employment contract, performance goals or key performance indicators and performance measurement and management [9].

Once employed, employees should resonate with the internal brand culture. However, internal brand building requires constant investment in nurturing, monitoring and showcasing purposeful brand behaviors. Upskilling would then also invest in new skills and qualifications required, as much as it would in evolved brand behaviors required [7, 15].

Living the brand must be embedded in the employee experience and daily work.

Recruiting and retaining the services of employees who are brand aligned in their heart, mind and deeds propel the organization’s efforts to bring the brand to life through people in an authentic manner. It also ensures that the brand holds every potential to innovate, lead and sustain its reason for existing over time [20].

7.3 Living the brand principle and related practice 3: Enable employee brand advocacy

Brand advocacy is the personal, authentic and open testimony of brand experiences and brand love that serves to advocate, endorse or promote a brand to others. Today’s brand stakeholders are less likely to be engaged by narrative driven by the brand itself, preferring the narrative that others provide about the brand [10]. This trend has seen the rise of user ratings and comments as a reliable source of information, and the increase of influencers or spokespersons that endorse or promote a brand. As brand practitioners fondly say: A brand is no longer what you say it is, it is what they say it is.

Employees hold powerful potential for strategic brand building, not only in living the brand through their work, but also in their testimony and brand advocacy to others [9].

Brands that wish to enable employee brand advocacy should do so in an organized, structured manner. Leading brands suggest that employees are given platforms for brand advocacy, and that these platforms are managed as a part of strategic brand building. For example, the employer brand website page of a company can be the holding platform for the employment experience stories of employees. Companies can also create social media groups or profiles that encourage employees to post and share their brand advocacy stories [2, 10].

Employee brand advocacy can be valuable in positioning and driving the employer brand. Employee testimonies allow the employer brand to cut through the clutter and get the attention of prospective employees. Employee brand advocacy can be the differentiator of an employer brand in a marketplace where all employers are promising similar benefits and value. The employer brand’s promised employment experience comes to life through an actual employee testifying to the realization of this experience, and will resonate and build trust with prospective employees [15, 23].

The central premise here is that brands should enable employee brand advocacy that is authentic, honest and real, but organize the manner in which this brand advocacy is deployed and both employee and brand are supported. This way brands can allow employees to lead the narrative while enabling brand cohesion [16]. When a disjoint does become evident in employees lived experience and advocacy of the brand, the misalignment can be explored in conversations and brand co-creation sessions with relevant stakeholders, upholding a participative leadership culture [14]. As Harvard Business Review author Curry (2020) states: “A failure to engage, or engaging in a manner that is hypocritical, willfully ignorant, or lacks cultural competence, is a recipe for disaster”. Instead, brand should engage with employees, find ways to encourage employee brand advocacy, enable it through providing collaborative platforms and brand aligned opportunities to do so, and use employee brand advocacy as a yardstick against which to measure its own performance in nurturing and upholding its brand purpose and the ways in which the promised brand experience comes to life [16].

7.4 Living the brand principle and related practice 4: Employees as brand co-creators and brand contact council members

Employees are not only important brand stakeholders – they are also a brand’s most valuable assets in strategic brand building. Beyond living the brand in their daily work, employees can contribute meaningfully to the innovation and co-creation of the brand and serve as members of brand contact councils.

By allowing employees to become part of the brand’s creation and contact or touchpoint management, brands are not only eliciting insights from a key brand stakeholder, but optimizing employee engagement and brand commitment as employees become invested in the full cycle of brand building, making them inseparably intertwined with the brand [5]. Practically, this means that organizational leadership should create opportunities for employee representatives to join brand discussions, especially pertaining to the delivery of purpose and value to stakeholders. Employees can provide a fair and honest assessment of how the brand is performing, and areas in which the brand should be changing, improving and delivering [9]. Leading global brands have welcomed and pursued the input of employees at critical decision moments or key business shifts and challenges. A word of caution, though: Employee brand co-creation is not about paying lip service to the involvement of employees, or ticking consultation governance boxes. The intention should be to provide opportunities for employees to participate, and to make those opportunities inclusive and unbiased, driven by a genuine and authentic desire to understand stakeholder needs and listen to feedback [5]. Hence the rise of innovative concepts such as listening sessions.

Employees could also play a pivotal role in the congruent delivery of desired customer experiences across brand contact points. Leading brands focus on what is termed an experience strategy: a way to connect customer experience with business strategy by managing every brand contact experience along the customer journey [17]. Forward thinking and holistically minded organizations implement brand experience strategy and contact audits across their ecosystem and stakeholder relationships. Brand contact management aims to achieve an integrated brand identity by ensuring that every point of contact between the brand and its stakeholder is aligned to and communicates and delivers on what the brand stands for. Brand contact management is driven by what some term a company ‘brand contact council’, which is a council or created group that is made up of a widely representative group of brand stakeholders – including employees [24]. By eliciting employee representatives on the brand contact council or related brand contact management committee, living the brand is activated and accelerated in three ways. Firstly, the brand contact council employee representatives will be able to establish brand contact points where employees should live the brand, and add insights as to how this should be done practically [14]. Secondly, the very involvement of employees on a brand contact council integrates the employee experience and employee opinion into the broader brand context, thereby building brand commitment and loyalty [23, 24]. Finally, employees who co-create the brand or serve on a brand contact council shape the nature, purpose and impact of internal brand building so that it resonates optimally with other employees and contributes optimally to the building of brand coherence and strength [24].

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8. Conclusion

Brands rely on employees to bring the brand to life as they connect with and build relationships with brand stakeholders during their daily work. Strategic brand building lays the foundation for an organizational culture and employee experience in which living the brand is not only possible, but inevitable.

For employees to live the brand, dedicated foundational guidelines should be followed and put in place. The most important of these, and the starting point of all brand building, is the clarification of a purpose-driven brand identity.

Purpose not only encapsulates the brand’s reason for existence, but the value that the brand hopes to add to the lives of all brand stakeholders. Recent research confirms that employees care about the brand purpose, that they want to work for purpose-driven employers, and that they would like opportunities to participate in and contribute to the larger brand purpose in their own, unique way. Living the brand flows naturally from employees’ that want to add to the greater good of the company by bringing brand purpose to life in meaningful work.

Living the brand also requires the creation and management of a purpose-driven and aligned employer brand and internal brand.

As a valuable brand stakeholder, potential and current employees should be attracted to the brand with an impactful and differentiated employer brand. Once employed, internal brand building targets employees in drawing them close to the brand and retaining them as they see the promises made in the recruitment process realized in the employment experience.

Strategic leadership alignment see an authentic congruence between the organizational brand identity, the employer brand and the internal brand. Whilst the employer and internal brands may straddle the functional domains of human resources management and brand management, living the brand compels cross-functional and participative leadership to invest in the creating and management of an employer brand that attracts the right people that will live the brand naturally and optimally.

If brands want to capitalize on and unleash the power of having employees that live the brand and build brand strength and coherence, they will have to ensure that the foundational guidelines outlined in this chapter are put in place first. The four principles and practices provided for living the brand aim to provide organizational leadership with clear, relevant, applicable and accountable ways in which living the brand can be activated and amplified as employee brand advocates and co-creators.

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9. Limitations and recommendations for further research

This is a perspective chapter, based on a critical review of literature and insights from previous studies. As such, the foundational guidelines and proposed principles and practices present a valuable snapshot of the current state of literature and abstractions thereof, but require scientific validation through further research.

Although every effort has been made to select the seminal authors and prominent studies in this field, the reference list is limited to the key sources and may not portray the full spectrum of literature reviewed and included in this chapter.

The primary research conducted by the authors [6, 11] was limited to South Africa and Southern Africa, and application of these insights to other regions or the global landscape should not be assumed.

Further research is recommended to shed light on leading practices in the strategic and operational collaboration of cross-functional organizational leadership as the principles and practices outlined herein is implemented in the organizational context.

The impact of employer and internal brand building on the overall company brand, or corporate brand has also been highlighted by scholars as an underexplored research area that requires further exploration and research.

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Written By

Michelle Wolfswinkel and Carla Enslin

Submitted: February 11th, 2022 Reviewed: March 2nd, 2022 Published: May 7th, 2022