Internal Branding = Business Systems

Business systems are more than just SOPs and policy binders – they’re internal branding!

Just like other forms of branding, that means we can’t delegate the process to be the responsibility of just one department. Processes are influenced by AND influence every single stakeholder in your business.

We’ll go over the disconnect between businesses embodying external branding and disregarding the importance of internal branding.

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Once upon a time, branding was this little concept we put in a box in the corner of the marketing or design department and said, “Hey, you there with the logo, you’re in charge of our brand!”

Since then, so much has changed and branding has become much more of a mainstream concept. For so many of us, we used to think of branding as just that a logo and some color schemes.

Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore!

Internal Branding is your reputation

We’ve come to understand that brand is not just a pretty typeface. Branding is the feeling that you convey when someone visits your website or talks or interacts with your company.

So when you’re getting a logo or a typeface, you’re not just getting a selection of fonts.

However, there’s still a gap between branding and the internal process that is behind the curtain of a company.

Layla dives into this at 0:30

Process is INTERNAL branding

While branding is viewed in this completely holistic way, most companies still view any process as the boring little policy binder they keep in the corner of an office inside of the operations department.

To us, there is a little bit of parallelism here that we could learn a bit from. Just like branding touches on every single department in your business, your processes should too!

There’s something to learn from the holistic view of branding and apply it to business processes.

Processes aren’t just SOPs in a dusty binder somewhere. Your culture is part of your process, how your team interacts amongst departments, how you reply to social media posts and comments; that’s all part of your internal branding.

Process is the way our actual business and the inner workings happen. It is both influenced by and influencing every single person and department inside our business. So when we try to think of business systems as something that only benefits the owner, we’re leaving out a huge chunk of the process.

In the past, most CEOs think about systems and processes when it comes to ideas like the E-Myth and the 4-Hour Workweek to “offset” so much on their plate.

Yes, the CEO is important to the overall company. However, the role and benefits of systemization are to help the owner last.

Let’s draw a parallel.

Have you ever worked with a designer or freelancer? And you say, “Here I want you to design a pamphlet.”

For one designer, you give a brand guide to saying this is exactly how we look. When someone gets a brand guide (a PDF that outlines what a brand looks like, what colors we use, what our vibe is, etc.), they’re generally happy and can work with what they’ve got.

And for the other designer, you say, “Hey, just check out our website. You’ll figure out what you look like, sort of.”

Which designer do you think would produce the better work? The one who got the brand guide with clear expectations or the one who just was told to just go wing it?

If you said the first designer, you’re right!

The designer with the brand guide is typically going to be a happier camper and deliver better work. So why is it that a brand guide given to a creative is such a welcome resource, but an SOP given to that same person is viewed as this kind of like hard knuckle creativity, crushing force? Because of how we’re branding process.

Layla dives into this at 01:13

The disconnect between the CEO and the C.E.O.

There is a stigma associated with processes (thanks to books like The 4-Hour Workweek) that view systems as a way for the owner to get even richer.

There’s a disconnect. We start to lose the connection between process and humanity. The first processes that a company implements should help workers be more productive. It should be a win-win for everybody. However, when we focus on it from such a Top-Down perspective, we end up commoditizing workers.

We are providing five-minute bathroom breaks over a 16-hour shift. We’re having designers produce work more like a machine than a human, and no one really wants to stand behind the quality of it. Ultimately, we end up with boredom and turnover.

So rather than thinking about system building as this top-down mandate, start thinking about system building as a benefit to the C, E, and O. (Different than the CEO title.) Where the C stands for the customer, the E stands for employee and the O stands for the owner.

We want to start with the customer and do anything we can with our system to make the quality of the experience for that customer higher. That might mean systemizing onboarding, making more self-service resources, making our email communications clearer. Anything we can do to help the customers is where we want to start with systemization. Once we have that customer happier, we have already made the lives of the employer and the owner happier.

A happier customer makes a happier employee. That makes a happier owner because there are fewer support inquiries and there are better sales metrics. Everyone’s happy!

Once we start systemizing for the benefit of the customer, we want to focus on the employee. Making their lives better, getting him that comfier chair, whatever it might be, to make their day-to-day life better. Happier employees make happier managers, which makes make happier owners, and overall tend to make a more successful business.

Finally, once we started to make the employee’s lives better, and they are singing from the rooftops about how helpful some of the systems and templates and new software we’ve introduced have made their lives.

Then we can talk about the owner. Then we can talk about how to free up their time and make them less of the bottleneck in the business.

Making the owner’s life easier doesn’t tend to directly make the employee’s lives easier. If we flip that scale and we start with the customer, then go to the employee and then to the owner, we’re actually making the owner’s life easier each step of the way, incrementally.

Layla talks about the disconnect in more detail at 04:08

Related Resources

Wiki vs SOP vs Policy? Business System Jargon, Explained

How to Plan Your Client Onboarding Process (to automate it later!)

How do I build processes for new services?

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