Employees as a second audience: the effect of external communication on internal brand management outcomes

  • Rico Piehler
  • Michael Schade
  • Christoph Burmann
Original Article


Although external communication affects both customers as external target groups and employees as internal target groups, internal brand management research regarding the effect of external communication on employee-related internal brand management outcomes remains limited. Therefore, this study seeks to shed light on the effects of external communication on internal brand management outcomes such as employees’ brand understanding, brand commitment, and brand citizenship behaviour. An empirical study with 790 respondents of a German tourism company suggests that external communication congruence, or the degree to which external communication is in line with actual products and services, actual values, and internal communication, positively affects all internal brand management outcomes with the strongest effect on brand understanding. These findings indicate how organizations can address important internal and external stakeholders with a single organizational practice, thus enhancing both the effectiveness and the efficiency of external communication. Managers must avoid exaggerating the externally communicated brand promises, ensure that the externally communicated values portray the firm’s actual values, and align the external communication with internal communication. In addition to several managerial implications, this study offers directions for further research.


Internal brand management External communication Employees Brand understanding Brand commitment Brand citizenship behaviour 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Innovative Brand Management, Faculty of Business Studies & EconomicsUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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