Let’s be honest: Many corporate intranets are pretty boring. The intranet might be useful, it might have a couple of cool features, but at best it’s still a slightly stuffy channel mainly used to convey corporate messages.
Even when you have a really good intranet with some social interaction and vibrant content, some employees are still likely to view it as a fairly dull channel that they occasionally need to use to get their job done or complete a task. That’s fine, but it may mean the intranet struggles to meet the agenda of many HR and Internal Communications functions to engage and even inspire employees. And it also means your intranet is not fulfilling its potential.
One problem may be that your intranet as a whole just lacks personality, or is perceived as doing so. This may be because if the way it looks and feels, the general tone of the content or because many of its best items and active communities are hidden away.
What’s your intranet brand?
The good news is that there are some changes and tweaks you can make to give your intranet a little personality.
Before you do this, you may need to work out the “brand” of your intranet and what you are trying to convey. This will help you decide what are the most effective measures to take. For example, is it a work tool or more of an engagement tool, or both? Is it more of a company or employee channel? Is it serious and work-focused, or does it have more of a fun side? Is it global or local?
The intranet brand also needs to be considered with what will work within your company and be acceptable to its culture. Thinking about your intranet brand will help you focus on the types of changes that are going to help bring it to life.
Here are eight ways that can help you give your intranet more personality:
1. Give it a fun name
Naming your intranet helps give it a brand, and makes it distinctive. Calling an intranet “intranet” isn’t the best way to convey personality! Usually a name should reflect your intranet brand, but also sit comfortably within your company culture.
Many teams choose a name that reflects the role or feel of the intranet, such as Insite, Hub, Connect or Buzz. Others choose a variant of the company name, while others even call it a human name like Basil, Arthur or Dave (all real intranet names!) Other teams run an intranet naming contest and get employees to vote on the winner to help drive a sense of ownership.
2. Create a character or persona
Some intranet teams also create a character or persona for the intranet which may be linked to the intranet name. The character may be enhanced with a logo, cartoon or an avatar.
It may sound trivial, but having a cute character makes the intranet more engaging. One organization uses a dog avatar to great effect! Some teams even give the character more life by occasionally posting comments as the character, usually with tips on how to use the intranet.
3. Give it a cheery design
Design has a major impact on the personality of your intranet. A dull, gray palette looks…dull and gray. A bright and colorful homepage design will send a completely different message. A range of lighter, pastel colors can also lift the intranet experience in a less “shouty” way.
Changing the design, particularly with color, can change perceptions overnight. Some teams have even deliberately made the color palette on their intranet different than their corporate colors to emphasize that the channel is non-corporate, although that will not be permissible for all brands.
4. Change the design in fun ways
There are also more understated ways to change the design, for example reflecting popular holidays, the seasons or even the time of day. This can be quite subtle, such as a variation of color, or less so: We know a couple of intranets where it snows on the homepage during the winter season! A great example of changing design is Google’s variations on its logo to reflect different special days. Could you do something similar with your company or intranet logo?
5. Be a little offbeat and use humor!
Another area where Google excels is creating a slightly off-beat tone with its messages. You could adopt a similar approach for your intranet and take a fun tone for the standard text for error messages, feedback, help and more. It makes the intranet, and the team behind it, feel more human.
6. Use more images and video
If you change a text-heavy intranet to an experience with more images and video, you may be surprised how this can impact the personality and perception of your intranet. An image not only brings individual content to life but also helps drive adoption. It can make a homepage feel less cluttered and more inviting.
7. Vary content
Sometimes varying content, particularly on the homepage, can make your intranet feel more dynamic and less static. An intranet that feels like it never changes is not engaging. Sometimes these changes need to be in the layout. Rearranging the homepage widgets from time to time also emphasizes a dynamic channel and can give an intranet more personality.
8. Spotlight social content and people
Spotlighting social content and highlighting people in your content makes an intranet feel less drab and corporate, and better reflects a vibrant community of employees. There are several different ways to make your employees the stars of your homepage. Take a similar approach and highlight other cool content and apps to start to break down any false perception that your intranet is dull and dreary!
Support your intranet brand
If you put some time into your intranet to make it exciting and dynamic, then make sure this is reflected in the whole intranet experience and brand, not just in its best parts. Making a few design changes can change perceptions and drive adoption, helping the intranet to prove its value and contribute to employee engagement. When that happens, intranet teams, stakeholders and employees are all happy.