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Internal branding process : key mechanisms, outcomes and moderating factors

Punjaisri, K. and Wilson, A.M. (2011) Internal branding process : key mechanisms, outcomes and moderating factors. European Journal of Marketing, 45 (9/10). pp. 1521-1537. ISSN 0309-0566

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This study seeks to focus on front-line service employees and their views of internal branding and the extent to which personal and job-specific factors impact on the success of internal branding in the reinforcement of brand identification and brand loyalty among service employees. The research, based on a multiple case study representing the hotel industry in Thailand, involved the completion of 30 in-depth qualitative interviews with customer-interface employees followed by a quantitative survey with 680 customer-interface employees located in five major hotels. Corporate service brands need to coordinate internal branding activity to enhance their employees’ identification with, commitment to, and loyalty to, the brand. The relationships between the concepts of identification, commitment and loyalty of employees are determined. Personal variables such as age, education, and length of service as well as situational factors regarding their work environment are found to have moderating effects on the effectiveness of the internal branding process. The paper highlights the importance of internal branding on employees’ brand identification, commitment and loyalty. However, management should also be aware that the impact of internal branding would not be constant across all employees within an organisation. Personal variables such as age, educational background, and length of service with the brand should also be taken into account. The impact of internal branding on an employee’s attitudes and behaviour are heightened when employees are satisfied with their workplace. As such, internal branding cannot be looked at in isolation and is unlikely to be successful if the work environment is not conducive to the employees and the brand values. Much of the work on internal branding is conceptual and based on small-scale studies undertaken with management or consultants. This paper provides empirical evidence from the front-line service employees’ perspective on the relationships between internal branding and brand identification, brand commitment, brand loyalty and brand performance. It also provides an empirical investigation of potential moderators for internal branding.