How to create a brand for your intranet
If you’re managing an intranet, how do you want it to be thought of by your employees and your stakeholders? It is a more serious “corporate” news channel or more of a relaxed social channel? Is it an indispensable work tool which drives efficiency or a website to browse through at your leisure? Is it positioned as a “digital workplace” or something that’s kept distinct from other channels? Is it regarded as effective or less so?
How your users and stakeholders perceive your intranet can impact its adoption and use. It can also influence how people judge the team who manage the intranet from day to day.
Even if your intranet has a poor reputation there are a surprising number of things you can do to help to establish an effective “intranet brand” so that:
- Users have a positive perception of the intranet, its value and the team behind it
- Everybody wants to keep on using it, increasing adoption
- Your senior stakeholders stay happy
- The intranet is a good fit with your organisational culture, values and brand
- It is distinctive from other channels within your digital workplace
But how do you influence and manage your intranet brand? Here are a few ideas.
1. Define how you want your intranet to be perceived
The first step to establishing an intranet brand is to consider how you want your intranet to be perceived. A good starting point is to consider your intranet’s vision and purpose and work back from that.
It can also be helpful to try to imagine some of the words you want users to describe your intranet and how they feel about it. Do you want your intranet to be trustworthy, friendly, beautiful, lively, or modern? Or all these words?
You can also examine other powerful brands and decide which are similar to how you want your intranet to be recognised. There are also some tools such as brand archetypes which can help stimulate your thinking.
2. Give your intranet a name and persona
Naming your intranet is an opportunity to support your intranet brand. Most teams give their intranet a regular name like “Connect” or “The Hub” or “MyCompany” and some choose not to name it all.
However, some intranet teams have used a little more imagination and given their intranet an actual name like “Arthur”, “Simon” or “Alfie” (all real examples) and even created a cartoon persona representing that character. This gives the intranet a little more personality and is suited to a more light-hearted, less-corporate channel.
3. Get the right tone of voice for your content
The tone of voice of your content should reflect how you want your intranet to be perceived. You may have more corporate news which is quite formal, or you may have more informal messaging. Some companies like Google, often use offbeat humour or a more informal tone in their communications. Of course, there is room for both serious and lighter tones on your intranet and it may be the balance between the two which helps to define your intranet brand.
4. Set the look and feel
A major influence on the perception of your intranet brand is the look and feel. This could be completely aligned with your corporate visual identify, signalling the intranet is very much a corporate channel. However, some companies have used different colour palettes and fonts to deliberately make their intranet less corporate.
Other influences can be an extensive use of images (particularly if not using stock photography), brighter colours, the balance between text and images and even the use of the amount of space in your layout.
5. Achieve the right balance of intranet features
The balance of features and capabilities on your intranet – particularly as they are displayed on your intranet homepage – also influence what users think. If you want your intranet to be considered a lively and dynamic window on employee activity, then a prominent social feed or activity stream could be an important homepage feature. Alternatively, if your intranet is positioned as more of a gateway to a wider digital workplace then you might want to show prominent links to different systems. And if your desired intranet brand is as a global hub for a decentralised company perhaps news from around the world should take centre stage on the homepage.
6. Getting users involved
Many of the best intranets are shaped by having users actively involved in the design and ongoing programme of improvements. Their ability to shape the intranet through feedback and ideas can be a brand attribute. It shows the intranet is influenced by users, gives your intranet more legitimacy as a work tool and positions it as being more than a corporate “mouthpiece”.
7. Promote the intranet in a consistent way
How you promote your intranet is also going to help you position it to employees in the right way, particularly when it has just been launched. The tone of your communications and emphasis of your messaging will help you to create the desired brand.
For example, if your intranet has a ‘social’ brand you may be stressing the social features, high levels of participation and letting employees know that they are the real owners of the intranet. To reinforce the intranet brand, promoting it in a consistent way is also key.
Get an intranet brand!
It really is worth considering what your intranet brand is and then managing it through the intranet look and feel, the tone of the content, the way it is promoted and more. By doing this you help influence the perception of your intranet and make it more positively viewed. This in turn will drive adoption and successful usage so that your organisation, your employees and the intranet team will benefit. Good luck!
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