Looking London, Talking Tokyo!

If you know anyone who runs a small retail shop or business, have you observed how they speak to customers and their employees? Note, the two ways are very different. If we understand that we cannot talk to customers and employees in a similar way then the use of marketing and brand communication guidelines for internal communications becomes less relevant.

Design in Internal Communications has mostly been developed in line with the marketing and/or brand guidelines. However, the nature of the subject in Internal Communications is significantly different from any brand or marketing campaign. When it comes to marketing communications you have a product /service, a defined target group, specific interests with a very specific purpose and engagement time.

Internal communications is the opposite – it is perpetual, it is more in grey areas (especially the economic environment we live in), it is more humane, the audience is more about human aspects than product features.

The basic factors of internal communications design and advertising design are similar. However, what defines those factors is where the game changes and these siblings differ greatly in approach and results.

Why is visualisation so important?

Broadly, a good internal communications campaign has the following:

  • Message
  • Concept
  • Design
  • Channels

All communication experts would know the above list. However, I want to drive your attention to a very crucial element called design; mainly because, the other three depend on it. Designing is what talks to the audience. It is a language.

Thought is supreme and that is where the journey of crafting a campaign starts. Hence concept cannot be compromised. Understanding the factors that affect human behavior allows us to flesh the right message. Channel of communication affects the consumption of message.

Design brings everything to life. If a concept cannot be brought to life visually, it is as good as a failure. How things look affects the consumption of the content.

There is a reason why videos are gaining prominence. People are shying away from reading. This is also why traditional intranets are struggling to engage people in the organisation.

This is where I reiterate that Internal Communications and Employee Engagement campaigns should have their own grammar for evaluation. Employee communication cannot and should not be limiting.

I am listing down a few pointers that I have gathered from my experience. I would request the community members to add to the list so that we can develop it as a go-to list.

  • Brand logo placement should not be mandatory. Often complex logo structures hamper design treatments.
  • Freedom of using of illustrations, infographics, animated banners, etc. is essential. IC is very static due to media restrictions in email clients (e.g. Outlook), which do not support animated emailers anymore.
  • Typography is also the key to a good design. Often font restrictions limit extensive experimentation with typography.
  • Choice of colours should be as per the subject of the communication but often brand guidelines limit this. A diverse secondary colour palette for use in internal communications could be the answer.
  • Descriptive content other than leadership messages should be avoided. Communications should be crisp and the content needs to reside elsewhere like the intranet.
  • Digital as a medium is under-utilised. If digital ideas have to see the breakthrough then the IT team and IC division will have to be sensitive to employee communications agenda.

Let us demand good designs, from whoever is crafting campaigns for you. Let us be open to look at the employee engagement and internal communications communication from this domain’s perspective and not the marketing communication perspective.

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