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Deep Below the Surface

Talking is easy. Puffing your chest to speak of morals, visions, and values is easy. Branding, however, is an extremely intricate art. Companies are starting to notice that branding requires a deeper value that nurtures a strategy.

From real life success stories like the number one coffee house: Starbucks, to the Zappos with the “WOW” customer service. Let’s take a look at how inside-out branding can help companies implement their values through actions before words, or as they say: “walking the walk”.

What is Inside Out Branding

So, we know that a brand is essentially just what the public thinks of a certain company, right? And surely, you want to influence the narrative of what people think of your company… but how does that work exactly?

Well, for one, you might want to take the most obvious route and tell them what you want them to believe about you. Sounds really simple. You want to define your brand as an advocate for children’s nutrition? Just focus the marketing around this message and broadcast it.

However, this approach is very easily abused and is being criticized, both for being hypocritical and rather ineffective (when used exclusively). Instead, CEOs are turning towards inside out marketing. In a sense, it’s kind of like deflecting from “faking it till you make it” to letting your values influence your decisions. You can still broadcast your message; however, you still need to act upon it and let it derive your products, your relationship with customers, and your employee policies.

Photo by Lina Kivaka

Starbucks & Inside Out Branding

When you really think about it, Starbucks is more than a coffee place. It is more of an experience really. People go to Starbucks - despite being above average prices for coffee shops - to enjoy free Wi-Fi, refills, a suitable place to hang out, or even to study! You might even say that the brand revolves around a product line, the people, and the experience.

That is an excellent example of successful inside out branding. At Starbucks, they wanted to brand an atmosphere and instead of trying to force this image through marketing, they started from the inside out, paying attention to the smallest details of the service that can help enhance their target image: The Third Place.

By achieving the image of The Third Place or The Starbucks Experience, Starbucks has created a set of expectations for the clients; they know what service is provided and it never disappoints.

What Loyalty Means in Inside Out Branding

You might think that since inside out branding is so focused on the emotional and spiritual sides, companies are more likely to put customers first in their consideration. However, over and over again successful companies have shown us that true loyalty starts within the company itself. That means that employees are essentially a treasure when it comes to inside out branding. How? A loyal employee (empowered with the right tools, of course) is an advocate, a dedicated worker, and a brilliant front-line decision maker.

Back to Starbucks, it’s said that the company has one of the lowest employee turnover rates. Wonder why? Well, Starbucks’ employees (often referred to as partners) enjoy a lot of merits, here a few of them:

Photo by Vlad Ifrim

· Health coverage

· Stocks and saving

· Paid days-off & parenteral leaves

· Transportation Benefits

· In-store Discounts

· Spotify premium accounts

· Athletic care and gyms

· Investing in long-term education

From free Wi-Fi and a comfortable lounging area to employee benefits, Starbucks is considered a Third Place for both customers and employees. That means that Starbucks CEOs managed to control the narrative of what their company represents without forcing a message through marketing but rather by implementing their values on real life.

Inside Out Branding Is for Everyone

You might think that such success stories are limited to big name multinational companies, but there are a few examples of smaller business that managed to build immense success out of inside out branding.

Nick Swinmurn built his entire business model based on his own bad experience at traditional shopping. When he found that shoe shopping can often be unfruitful for either lack of stock or uncooperative customer service, he saw an opportunity that aligned with the predicted rise of e-commerce. He decided to create a business that would “deliver WOW through service” through Zappos. From there, this vision was kept in consideration while every decision was taken; the expansion of warehouses, shipping and return policies, and employee training.

Today, Zappos (a 1.2-billion-dollar business) is known as a company that only hires those who are really interested in doing the job. As a company that provides happiness in the business of shoe retail through excellent customer service and wide availability. So, congrats for Swinmurn for the successful inside out branding!

The key message to takeaway here, is that inside out branding isn’t only a true form of vision implementation, but it can also shift and change form as the entrepreneur moves to the next step in their path to development. So, stay true to your values and don’t be afraid to develop forward!


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