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

Rico Piehler*, Michael Schade, Christoph Burmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-460
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Brand Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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


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