The 50/50 Split Between External and Internal Branding

Last week I wrote a blog post for the Content Marketing Institute about Why Brand Storytelling Must Start With Human Resources. Based on the responses I’ve received, this definitely hit a chord.

A colleague of mine is a CMO for a multi-billion dollar technology company, and we talked about the piece. Interestingly, with this of a global size firm, I assumed internal branding and communications was a given. Turns out, that’s not the case.

In fact, her internal communications team consists of exactly – you may want to sit down for this – him.

Why is this?

They’ve spent millions in the last decade re-branding the company, making sense of how to bring sub-brands under the umbrella in a way that makes sense to both the companies they acquire and the parent brand. They’ve gone so far as to re-engineer the look and feel of the products they sell to support the brand story they’re telling. Externally.

Now he’s turning that level of attention internally to employees. He’s even talked about (who knows how seriously) splitting his budget 50/50 between internal and external branding.

Here’s why.

In order to make the story we tell externally, we have to make sure that our employees understand it and can make it come alive. As marketers, we spend so much time creating that promise of what a customer or prospect can expect in doing business with us. The promise we make about where we’re leading them through thought leadership. How we demand their attention and expect them to stay loyal as customers.

And now we have to create promise keepers; the people who make all of those external promises come true, and they can’t do it without understanding the story we’re trying to tell and the promises we’re making.

It’s no different than buying a high-performance sports car and then taking it to Billy Bob the mechanic for service and using low-grade fuel. It doesn’t matter how great it looks on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that makes the difference in high performance.

Image: Stock Free Images


About Carla Johnson


Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.

In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds -  Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. 

Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.