The Interpublic Group of Cos. shop has formed a unit called BrandInside that counsels clients on ways to ensure their customer experience is consistent with their advertising. The unit has already worked with U.S. Postal Service and insurer Geico Direct, and plans to target companies on and off its roster.
"We ask what the essence of the brand is and then ask if that is understood by each and every employee," said Joe Birriel, a former adviser to business-world highfliers such as General Electric Co.'s Jack Welch. "Sometimes that is done by simply conducting an online survey. Then we sit with management and look at every system and process and ask do they each support the brand. If they don't, we ask the company if they really need it."
"Companies spend billions externally, when employees are not delivering on the promise," said Earl Cox, Martin's agency partner-strategic planning, who runs BrandInside with Mr. Birriel.While the nation's top 100 advertisers spend $83 billion annually on external marketing, Mr. Birriel said, $8 billion is directed toward educating employees.
Interbrand's latest "Marketing State of the Union" survey, released in June 2002, showed internal branding as the third-most-important element in brand-building, behind brand strategy and advertising. In 2001, Interbrand ranked it seventh.
The Martin Agency is not alone in pursuing internal-communications accounts. Gary Stromberg, president-CEO of Ketchum's Stromberg Consulting, is working on employee communications with Hilton Hotels brand Hampton Inn. Internal communications are inextricably linked to a strong market capitalization and therefore share price, he said.