Purpose – Starting from the premise that there are critical issues that should drive brand success, this study seeks to investigate the way the UK retail banking industry has sought to build and sustain a strong brand by launching an internal marketing (IM) programme throughout its branch network. Also aims to shed light on the themes of branding in the financial services industry and the relationship between IM and branding. Design/methodology/approach – The study was qualitative and exploratory in nature, since the aim was to explore branch managers' and employees' views and experiences of IM within the UK retail bank industry. Data were collected by carrying out in‐depth qualitative interviews with organisational members working in different positions within 35 business units that represented seven different UK retail banking organisations. The qualitative data were analysed by using the grounded theory approach developed by Strauss and Corbin in 1990. Findings – The data analysis revealed four core themes as constitutive of IM, namely: internal customers; training and education; quality standards; and rewards systems. These four themes are enacted on a constant basis in order to construct a certain sort of organisational reality, one that sets the foundation on building and sustaining a strong corporate brand by changing the organisational culture to one which is more “people”, service‐ and customer‐oriented. Research limitations/implications – The study focused on one industry, the UK retail bank industry, in order to enhance one's understanding and knowledge regarding the IM theory and practice. This needs to be taken into consideration in generalising the findings to other sectors and geographic markets. Practical implications – The research shows that the banks studied have adopted IM due to realising that employees represent a valuable source for building and differentiating the corporate brand, since they have a powerful impact on consumers' perceptions of both the brand and the organisation. The IM perspective has the potential to integrate all staff in the branding process and create an organisational culture that sets the foundation for building a strong corporate brand. Originality/value – The current literature on IM has revealed that there is no universally accepted and adopted IM programme and that those organisations that have adopted IM have developed their own “custom‐made” approaches. The paper reveals the IM implementation approach adopted by the UK retail banks studied.
Journal of Product & Brand Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2006
Keywords: Brands; Internal marketing; Financial services; Corporate branding; Banking; United Kingdom
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