How the 'Hokey Pokey' Makes a Good Internal Branding Process

The End Goal of Both Is to 'Put Your Whole Self In'

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As kids it was fun, if not somewhat embarrassing, to do the "Hokey Pokey" at school, at the skating rink or at parties. The "Hokey Pokey" (song and dance) goes by many different names around the world, but has a common format in that you first create a circle of friends. When the song starts, you begin by putting your right hand in, putting your right hand out, putting your right hand back in and shaking it all about, after which you "do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about." From there, you proceed with your left hand, each foot in turn, your head, backside and finally your "whole self."

Now take the common "Hokey Pokey" as a simple metaphor for building your internal brand. A stretch perhaps, but let's have some fun with it as the end goal of both the "Hokey Pokey" and internal branding are the same: We want our employees to put their "whole self in." This concept applies to b-to-b as well as b-to-c companies.

1. Put your right hand in/out: As the internal branding dance begins, we start slowly with a simple hand to test the waters. We put our right hand in and do an audit of what we know about our brand and what we have been doing to communicate it to our employees.

2. Put your left hand in/out: With current situational knowledge in place, we put our other hand in to develop a strategy of where we want our brand to be in the future and outline a plan to get there. Now the left hand knows what the right hand is doing and has a path forward.

3. Put your right foot in/out: Next we have to get senior management alignment to our strategy and goals with active support for bringing the brand to life with and for employees. Sometimes this involves a little footwork.

4. Put your left foot in/out: With visible support from management, we now begin to create awareness of what our brand means -- what it stands for. This involves putting feet on the street to inform all employees.

5. Put your head in/out: Putting the head in for this part of the dance, as with internal branding, must be properly timed. In this phase, we move beyond awareness to really helping employees understand what the brand means, why it is important and what role they, as individuals, play in delivering on the brand promises.

6. Put your backside in/out: With internal branding, you want hearts and minds. We covered the mind in the previous steps. A way to the heart is by having some fun with your brand to help convey its message in a variety of ways. In the "Hokey Pokey," putting your backside in breaks down barriers by being a bit silly during the dance. For your internal branding initiatives, putting your backside in could include sharing stories, in fun ways, of on-brand behaviors as well as off-brand behaviors and how to correct them.

7. Put your whole self in: The ultimate aim of internal branding is to have employees' hearts, minds, bodies and souls committed to supporting your brand in service of your customers. In essence, this means getting everyone to put their "whole self in" and do so willingly, as they can see the connection between what they do every day at work and why it matters and adds value to internal and external customers.

Enjoy both the "Hokey Pokey" and your internal branding initiatives and remember to "turn yourself about" to have some fun with it, cause "that's what it's all about."

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