Southwest Airlines 737

Herb Kelleher got it: Brands are built from the inside out. This excellent Forbes article shares 20 reasons why the late founder of Southwest Airlines – known for his big personality — was a beloved leader.

Interested in his employees. Looking beyond their titles and status. Being approachable. Putting employees first, customers second — the list goes on. The idea of putting employees first is the essence of building a brand from the inside out. Your employees are your organization — if they build the brand, they believe in the brand. And your customers will believe in it, too.

Likewise, if your marketing department promotes a brand identity that your employees don’t embrace, they will let your customers know that, too.

If you are considering a refresh to your brand identity, start with your employees. The Activ Consulting Group recommends focus groups with a variety of your organization’s stakeholders. Employees are the starting point. Ask long-time employees why they have stayed with the organization. Ask relatively new hires what attracted them. As you hold focus groups with external audiences, how do the thoughts align – or do they?

Once your creative work begins, circle back to your employee focus groups to test your thinking. If they get behind the refreshed branding, your marketing dollars will be effectively spent.