Internal interviews: The surprise hero of the brand discovery process.

May 18, 2021 | Research

By now we all know the importance of brand discovery and how carefully planned research and data gathering helps us, well….discover everything we need to know to develop a successful brand. One of the most important steps of this process is conducting internal interviews with your executives and key stakeholders. Why is this such a critical part of the process?

In short, we recommend these interviews because, often, the information we gather is far more valuable than external brand perception research when it comes to real challenges facing the project. You may THINK your team is aligned on goals, expectations, company objectives, future planning, etc. But we’re here to tell you that a lot of the time, you aren’t.

This isn’t to say all companies we work with have this challenge, but whether information is siloed in various departments, or people feel that they can be more open and honest during our interviewers, there are usually critical communication challenges that have to be overcome before any real work can begin. These interviews not only ensure that goals are aligned across teams and departments, but also give us diverse perspectives so we can produce the right solution, not just the solution we were asked for.

Goal 1: Understand and Communicate Objectives

Here’s some scary statistics. According to IBM, 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of their company’s overall strategy. And Deloitte found that only 23% of executives say their companies are excellent at aligning employees’ goals with corporate purposes. Yikes.

CEOs, CMOs, VPs of Marketing, Directors of Strategic Marketing, and Creative Directors all generally come to a branding project with different experiences and goals. We find that executives are all about cost efficiency and the tangible difference the brand refresh can have on the bottom line. Their eyes are on corporate growth far more than the human connection of a brand because it’s their job to worry about that. But, often, the specifics of these goals aren’t communicated down the chain of command, and that is when we see a communication breakdown.

We find the VP and Director level executives have more marketing experience and are often closer to understanding consumers and their mindsets. This means they are both seeking to satisfy the ambiguous corporate goals while also maintaining brand authenticity and a meaningful connection with consumers day in and day out.

This simple difference in perspective creates huge challenges in regard to efficiency in these branding exercises. Taking the time to be sure all goals are aligned on the front end is critical. We find that being a “safe” outside agency, people share their blind spots more candidly. This means we can report back with real insight and help set the correct destination for each project.

Goal 2: Hear Diverse Perspectives

According to Salesforce, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.

It isn’t surprising that companies that struggle to create opportunities for collaboration deal with more challenges. We find that companies where teams generally defer to leadership without much collaboration have the most to gain from these internal interviews.

Giving people a platform to share ideas and thoughts in a safe and anonymous way produces fresh insights that haven’t come to the surface yet. Each person involved in a project has diverse experience, and that means they may have unique perspectives or out-of-the-box ideas that can help change the brand position in the market and influence voice, design and brand aesthetic as well.

Goal 3: Build Consensus

Even if everyone doesn’t agree, gathering information during stakeholder interviews and distilling it into a final report creates an opportunity for strong communication of goals, expectations and rationale behind decisions. Consensus doesn’t have to mean 100% agreement — it just means 100% buy-in or understanding among the team. This builds trust and ensures everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Gartner says that more informed employees outperform their peers by 77%. Lexicon tells us that more than 80% of Americans say employee communication is key to developing trust with their employers. Not only do these interviews give us insight into how to best serve you, but they also give you insight and help build more effective teams built on strong communication and trust.

In some ways, it isn’t a surprise at all that these interviews are the hero of brand discovery projects. The invaluable information and tangible benefits they create at the beginning of our partnership is a key component to getting things off on the right foot and establishing a strong foundation for success long down the road. Curious about starting the process toward a more aligned brand? We’re here to help. Just reach out here.