!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Internal Branding

Monday, August 11, 2008

Internal Branding

I'd like to to follow up on an earlier post about the concerted effort Absa Bank made in 1998, following amalgamation of four South African bank brands into one Absa brand, to ensure that its employees would deliver on the brand promise of quality service to customers.

Julia Scheffer completed a master's thesis (pdf) in 2005, which, though generally heavy going, does provide further detail concerning the specific steps Absa took internally as part of its overall effort to achieve its branding aims. As summarized in a chart on pp. 196-197, the goals of the bank's plan for communications to employees concerning the new Absa brand were to:
  • Undo confusion.

  • Share information.

  • Obtain employee buy-in.

  • Change customers' perceptions of the bank.

  • Provide in-depth knowledge of where Absa was heading and why.

  • Explain the financial implications of the amalgamation.

  • Explain the long-term financial benefit.

  • Gain market share.

  • Ensure optimum solutions for customers.

  • Retain customers.

  • Suit customer convenience.

  • Support simplified systems.
In their content, the communications to employees covered:
  • The fact that Absa was a single commercial bank.

  • The time frame for the changeover from multiple banks to a single bank.

  • The benefits and implications for employees.

  • The benefits and implications for customers.

  • The benefits and implications for other stakeholders.

  • The cost implications for Absa Group.

  • Product implications.

  • The fact that Absa was readying itself for the future.

  • How divisions were being consolidated.

  • The importance of the steps being taken for the bank's survival in a changing environment.

  • Leadership's emphasis on ethical operations and being forward-looking.

  • The prospect of gains for everyone from the consolidation.

  • The nature of the infrastructure changes being introduced.

  • Management expectations of employees.

  • The fact that consolidation would enable Absa to be more true to its mission.
An array of communication actions and channels were used:
  • Electronic channels — The launch was done live on the ABSA Channel, an in-house TV channel, and the message also went out via email.

  • Print media — Communication via ABACUS, an internal publication; information packs sent to all managers; personalized letters to employees; tent cards for tables.

  • Group dialogue and discussions held via Absa communication representatives and "action line" employees.

  • Private discussions with Branch Managers.

  • Absa Communication Centre (a call center for answering employees' questions).
Employees also attended a series of branding orientation sessions which introduced them "to the core values of the new brand by setting up the Brand Wall, which was a series of posters and web pages dedicated to various facets of the new brand." And, as noted in my earlier post, employees attended specially designed "I Am the Absa Brand" training workshops that taught them what to do in specific situations in order to achieve solid customer satisfaction.

In sum, Absa Bank's comprehensive communications program both for motivating employees to embody the single bank brand, and to equip them to do so effectively, is an instructive model for other companies attempting similar brand building.


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