Finding Inspiration for Employee Communications

March 12, 2014by Carolyn RichardsonInternal Communications

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External Branding vs. Internal Employee Communications 

In our previous post Mike talked about what happens when internal branding does not match, or contradicts, external branding? You lose credibility, you anger your workforce, and a population of people who could be your key brand ambassadors become disengaged. We thought we would follow up with some tips on how to link these two things…

Quite often, the goals of consumer facing marketing materials are all about keeping it short, sweet, and bold. Any text longer than a few sentences is relegated to the fine print disclaimers that only a rare few will ever bother pulling out their magnifying glasses to read. This philosophy won’t work for internal facing communications, because the ‘fine print’ in the internal realm is exactly the information that needs to become the star.

There are endless ways you can elevate that fine print through different approaches to the actual content, but as an art director, my focus is set on making those communications look as good as they can. They need to be complimentary to your brand, visually interesting and easily digestible. Having seen several brands’ style guidelines, I can say the concerns of internal communications are not often highly prioritized.

Internal communications tend to be longer because they have more information they need to relay. That information can be complex and have several levels of hierarchy that needs clear definition. Creating style guides that address how to deal with longer form will help your communications look polished and consistent. Consider some of your favorite magazines, your internal communications should have that editorial feel and thoughtful layout.

In order to achieve an editorial feel, you need to leverage dynamic visual components, like playful typography, photography and graphic icons.

New York Magazine is one of my favorite sources for editorial inspiration.
New York Magazine is one of my favorite sources for editorial inspiration.

Use custom artwork for better impact 

Simply recycling your external campaign assets won’t always compliment the subject matter of your internal communications. In today’s designed world, folks can sniff out clip art and stock photography a mile away. That can come across as insincerity. One way to help your communications have an authentic feel is to invest in custom designed icons or infographics. These are elements you can use later in a variety of documents. Another is hiring a professional photographer to document some of your internal events or to come in for a day to capture a slice of your organization’s daily life. These will be company-specific images you can use for years in a multitude of different documents that will have a greater reception than generic stock images.

Leveraging your external campaigns internally

Your external campaign has received the best resources at your disposal, it will drive the look, feel, and creative guidelines for internal programs. Our recommendation is to thoughtfully supplement your external campaigns with additional creative imagery that has your internal audience in mind.

We’d love to hear about your experiences with internal communications that hit the mark or fell short in the comments section below.

Carolyn Richardson