Internal branding efforts are essential in improving employee performance in services marketing. Drawing on reformulation of attitude theory, this paper aims to contribute to the internal branding literature by positing that while internal brand knowledge (IBK) is essential for transforming brand vision into brand reality, it is not brand knowledge per se but its integration with other brand- and customer-related aspects that drive superior employee performance. In particular, this paper develops a cognitive-affective-behaviour model of internal branding proposing that IBK results in higher levels of employee brand identification (EBI); this sense of identification then motivates employees to engage in both employee-related and brand- and customer-focussed behaviours (i.e. brand citizenship behaviour [BCB] and customer-oriented behaviour [COB]), which in turn foster employee performance.
The hypotheses were empirically tested using a sample of 697 from services industry in Vietnam.
The findings indicate a sequential mediation model in that employee brand knowledge affects employee performance (both objective and subjective measures) through EBI, BCB and COB. Employee brand knowledge results in higher levels of EBI; this sense of identification then motivates employees to engage in employee-related brand and customer-focussed behaviours (BCB and COB), which in turn foster employee performance.
Firms should understand that IBK may not directly result in high levels of service performance, and instead should embrace the culture of self-driven positive brand-connection attitudes that motivate employees to engage in BCB and COB that are consistent with their sense of self.
This study makes a unique contribution to the internal branding literature by unravelling a pathway that integrates employees’ self-related psychological mechanism (EBI) and employee-related brand and customer-focussed behaviours (BCB and COB) through which employee brand knowledge is converted into employee performance.