Last week, many of you may have seen the twitterstorm around the Sainsbury’s poster that was photographed in a shop window that was meant for employees only. The poster encouraged employees to enter the ‘Fifty pence challenge’. The challenge asked staff to encourage shoppers to spend 50p more every time they came into one of Sainsbury’s stores between now and Christmas.

What’s interesting to think about here is that maybe the message and tone of the poster Sainsbury’s used to launch their internal campaign could have aligned more to the nurturing and caring Sainsbury’s we all think of. Encouraging employees to go the extra mile and make a customer’s day might have been more what we would have expected?

As one of the UK’s leading supermarkets, I’m sure Sainsbury’s are just as nurturing to their employees as they are to their customers, but this story inadvertently highlights the importance of external brand values matching the internal culture of an organisation.

With so much competition for that extra edge, the brands that do this well harness an internal culture that really breads creativity, commercialism as well as that feeling of being nurtured.

Take ‘Innocent’ for example. A brand that shows pride in being, ‘natural, entrepreneurial, responsible, commercial and generous’. What’s really clever about Innocent is that even the inside of their offices and their internal processes match up to the image that the represent externally. They want their employees to think outside of the box, come up with the next big idea, but also work in an environment that nurtures this.

Innocent's offices ooze creativity in order to encourage this way of thinking in their employees. Everything from the quirky, ‘Welcome to your new home’ sign hanging outside of the front of their London offices, to the fake grass in the canteen and smoothie making classes at lunch, lives and breathes the external image that Innocent portray. 

But why is this important? In a nutshell, authenticity has never been more important: And to achieve that you need to align your people with your purpose to achieve commercial success.

Amy Houldey is a senior consultant in H+K London's change and internal comms practice