The Brand Wheel: How It Can Help Improve Employee Engagement and Strengthen Brand Strategy

August 21, 2017

If a brand is a promise delivered, it must be based on a brand truth and be driven by a set of values, behaviours and or attributes that consistently deliver the benefits. For this to happen the brand and brand strategy needs to be understood by everybody in the organization so that it can inform and drive company culture. For that reason, improving understanding and engagement with the brand within an organisation is every bit as important as building the brand externally.

This is particularly true of corporate brands, but it also applies to many product brands where the basic role of the brand is to reassure customers on consistent quality and delivery.


The challenge many businesses face is how to get their employees, whose performance and behaviour can enhance or damage the brand, to understand what it is all about and to  'walk the talk.'


Whilst your brand strategy will define your market opportunity and competitive arena (i.e. what you offer and how you are different and better), it is usually developed by marketing people for marketing people and contains more detail and nuances than many employees need to know.


Short internal videos or infographics and a brand book specifically designed and written for the internal audience, are great ways of highlighting the key themes and values and build initial awareness and understanding. However, they can suffer from the 'out of sight, out of mind' syndrome after the initial presentation.


Internal posters and thematically 'branded 'merchandise such as mouse mats, notebooks and mugs etc. are good ways to extend and increase exposure frequency but these don't always tell enough of the story.


One solution is to produce a very simple brand wheel as a graphic and apply this to items frequently on view around the workplace.  

Your Company Culture Is Your Brand















Brand wheels, have been around for years, and are essentially a distillation of the brand strategy. They are much loved by brand people, but they are often far too complicated to successfully engage with the internal audience. Google ‘Brand Wheel’ or ‘Brand Essence’ to see just what we mean.


At Octant Strategic, we believe that a simple brand wheel that features just the most important information that internal audiences need to know is an ideal communication device, making the key elements of the story accessible and in context.


The wheel should focus on just the brand essence, the core values that support it and the brand’s rational and emotional benefits. Rational benefits are what the customer actually gets and the emotional benefits are what you want the customer to feel about the brand.  


In most cases this is the information that internal people need to know and factor into the way they work. This includes customer facing, manufacturing and process people, and service delivery and support groups such as HR, training, IT, financial and administration.


Whatever method of internal brand communication you decide to use, it is worth remembering that it takes time to move brand strategy to behaviour. Any form of communication should ideally be followed with workshops or activities that encourage employees to think about the brand and how it could affect the way they work. This is not always easy given time cost and practical pressures but it is highly worthwhile in order to make the brand live within the organisation and become a key part of the culture.


Brand Strategy


For clarity purposes, brand essence, brand values and the brand’s rational and emotional benefits are key components of brand strategy, and are explained below:


Brand Essence


This is usually a single emotional idea or intangible benefit that lies at the heart of the offer and strategically differentiates your brand from competitors.


It is best expressed in one or two words and evokes a 'feeling' about the brand rather than a physical attribute. The brand essence must be informed by, and resonate with, the supporting values and the emotional and rational benefits.


The brand essence does not have to be a 'strap line' but it must inform your strap line if you use one. Famous examples are Disney's brand essence, which is ‘Magic’, and Harley Davidson’s, which is 'freedom or liberation.'


The Brand Values


A brand’s values are the guiding principles or standards of behaviour that underpin the brand offer and character. They reflect the way that the brand will behave, sometimes called brand conduct, and, by inference, the people associated with it. Brand values must be genuine and be reflected in your actions, communication claims, style and your tone of voice.


Examples include: Integrity, Empathy, Innovative.


Rational and Emotional Benefits


As you would expect, rational benefits are derived from attributes that deliver something tangible or physical such as improved efficiency, better reliability or a saving in time or money.


Emotional benefits are equally important, but are often derived from a mix of attributes that deliver intangible benefits that inform the way that people think and feel about the brand. Security, confidence, trust or the sense of reduced risk are good examples.


7 Top Tips for improving understanding of the brand amongst employees:


1. Review, and if necessary, revise your brand strategy to ensure it represents competitive advantage in the current and future market: External stakeholder research is advised.


2. Survey employees to assess their current level of brand understanding and engagement.


3. Distill the final brand strategy into a simple brand wheel focused on the key elements.


4 Develop a range of material written for internal audiences to explain the brand themes and at minimum develop a simple explanatory brand book and feature the brand wheel on items that linger in the workplace.


5. Promote discussions on what the brand is all about as stand-alone sessions or as an added agenda item on other training or engagement sessions.


6. Little and often is a better approach than a one-off event.  


7. Remind the leadership team that the brand is a living, breathing and valuable asset.


To find out how we can help you with your Brand Wheel and overall Brand Strategy, contact our Strategic Advisory Team




Chris Harvey - Director And Co-founder Posted by: Chris Harvey - Director And Co-founder