Do You Know Who You Work For?
Internal branding of Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta
Considering the high contact level between the service providers and the customers that occurred in higher education (HE) context, accurate internal branding is crucial to avoid any disparity between what is promised and what is actually delivered. The purpose of this research is to study how Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta’s (UMS) staff perceive the university’s brand and whether the perception matches the intended proposition set by UMS and its governing body. To attain this purpose, an online questionnaire was given to the respondents. The respondents, consisting of UMS faculty members, were given 30 adjectives or attributes and were asked to evaluate each of the adjectives whether they represent UMS as a brand or not. As UMS has never conducted a structured and planned internal branding, it was expected that the respondents’ perceived branding would not match its intended proposition. However, the overall result suggests that the respondents’ perceived UMS branding is consistent with the university’s intended branding and its mission statement.
Several explanations can be suggested as to why the result contradicts the hypothesis. Firstly, the strong organizational culture lent by its governing body, Muhammadiyah, may have been strongly rooted in the university. The coherence between Muhammadiyah’s and UMS’ visions helps the organizational culture gain perpetual momentum in shaping the internal brand perceived by the internal stakeholders. Secondly, the close and continuous contacts between the employees and the customers uniquely found that the HE sector can strengthen the organizational culture which, in turn, helps to build the internal brand. The close contact between employees and the customers (the students) means that the employees will not only co-create the brand with fellow employees but also with the students they encounter every day. Further research will be invaluable to confirm the aforementioned suggested factors.
This study provides beneficial insights for other higher education institutions (HEIs). For other Muhammadiyah universities, the presence of Muhammadiyah as their governing body may have provided them with strong organizational core vision within the university. Therefore, if they are to conduct an internal branding effort, it should be built around Muhammadiyah’s vision and ideology. Moreover, for other higher education universities, an internal branding effort should be directed to both employees and students. Therefore, the internal branding co-creation will be collectively and, more importantly, accurately created by both the employees and the students.