HR and Branding – The Perfect Partnership

Building Brands from the Inside, Out

What is a brand?

Your company’s brand is the window of opportunity to link the internal and external sides of your business to impact the bottom line. In practice, it is the sum of the distinctive experiences your company delivers to your customers, prospects, media, investors, employees and other key audiences.

Many large organizations like Deloitte and GE recognize the roles HR and branding together play in the wider business, but many smaller companies have yet to take advantage of the links between HR and branding.

We are on a mission to show the need for HR and branding to work together – or as Meghan M. Biro says, ‘It’s Time To Get Real: ‘Humanize Your Brand.’

Here are five ways HR professionals can shape organizational development through exceptional partnerships between HR and branding:

  1. Become best friends with your branding colleagues! Make it your mission to learn the messages that are being delivered to your customers and educate employees on what those messages mean for them and how they interact with each other. But, don’t stop there! Enlist the help of your branding and marketing team colleagues to shape employee messages to meet the needs of employees and customers alike in an engaging and motivational way, while aligned to HR best practices.
  1. Reinforce brand behaviors to drive double satisfaction. Don’t stop at education. Reinforce those messages through recognition and reward practices that filter through your organization every day and for the life of your brand. We realize recognizing and rewarding employees for exhibiting organizational behaviors is nothing new, but often those behaviors are not aligned to your company’s brand. How many HR teams work with external marketing teams to co-create those messages? Do the two compliment each other? Or are they conflicting? Consider employee and customer satisfaction to pack the biggest punch! 
  1. Make in-house technologies dual purpose. In today’s technological world, employees and customers alike demand, speed, efficiency, ease of use, engaging interfaces and technology they can access from anywhere, but many HR programs focus on employee needs only. Building internal technological solutions that meet customer needs while also motivating and engaging employees is key to building HR’s strategic advantage. Being able to translate customer needs into employee needs and vice versa requires a deep understanding of both audiences and is a prime opportunity for branding and HR to collaborate once again! 
  1. Align analytics to ROI. ‘Big Data’ is a hot topic, but there’s no use having lots of data if it doesn’t provide actionable insights for your organization. Collect data that meets the needs of your organization not just for data collection’s sake. Deep statistical analysis and long-term tracking of trends can support wider business decisions, but only when they are aligned to your customer and employee data. The two need to come together to promote effective business decision-making and ensure return on investment of your brand aligned HR programs. 
  1. Develop recruitment practices that embody your organization’s brand. Let’s not stop at driving branded behaviors in current employees! Branding and HR teams can be a phenomenal force when bringing bright, fresh talent into the family. Branding professionals understand what the customer wants and how to communicate those needs; HR understands the skills and knowledge recruits require to deliver on those promises. Together, these forces can recruit prime talent!

The changes needed to align brand behaviors to internal employees are not massive shifts to how these teams currently operate; both parties can still play to their strengths. However, these new ways of working require both teams to integrate their practices and learn from one another. Are you ready for the challenge?

Tune in to the #WorkTrends podcast on February 22nd and listen in to our TalentCulture webinar on March 28th for deeper insights on building effective brand cultures.
Photo Credit: DiariVeu – Flickr via Compfight cc

Is Your Strategy A Compelling Story People Understand?

Working alongside executive leadership teams at large companies, I find that one of the key opportunities for organizational growth and transformation is when leaders recognize the need to revisit, refresh or redefine the key building blocks that drive their business. When the CEO or CMO realizes it’s time to reinvigorate and reposition their brand it oftentimes highlights the need to refine or redefine their overall business strategy.

Oftentimes, there is a lack of understanding around some of the most important building blocks for change. And more often than not, there is a lack of agreement around what vision, mission and values actually mean, why they’re important and how to put them into action to drive growth.

If a team doesn’t have a clear and compelling reason to get out of bed each day, know where they’re heading, how they’re going to get there and understand the rules of the organization, they operate in a vacuum and are driving blindly. When teams realize they’re lost and doing things incorrectly, the organization usually starts to spin aimlessly until someone recognizes they need to ask for help.

For startups to successfully take off, a clear vision is key. The vision paints a succinct and competitive picture of why the brand exists. It helps illustrate how they see the future as a result of their influence on it, helping them raise money, attract talent and kick-start momentum.

As a fresh way to look at their business, leadership teams at large organizations need to think like passionate entrepreneurs. By revisiting and examining the reason their company exists and the role it plays in the world, they can reveal significant opportunities for dynamic change. It’s not about manufacturing a widget, selling a particular product or hitting a revenue target (although these are all imperative), but digging for a deeper, more meaningful reason the company exists in the world. Ensuring that each team member understands, and can clearly articulate their organization’s purpose, can unlock new momentum and help drive new focus. Brands are like people, and without purpose they can drift aimlessly.

Here are some questions to consider when refreshing and redefining your company’s brand platform and turning your strategy into a compelling story people understand.

Vision is a clear picture of the future. Do you have one? 

If your company’s vision isn’t clear, and if your team isn’t talking about the impact your brand is trying to make in the world, then it’s time to revisit it. The vision should be a clear statement that paints a picture of how you want to see the world changed based on your brand’s role in it. The vision should be big and bold. It should be a stretch, thought-provoking and inspiring. Map out the future and the role you’ve played in it thus far. A great example of a company doing this exceptionally well is FEED projects. Having a vision makes your brand’s “why” easy to define. People need a paycheck and a career path, but they also want to be a part of something bigger––have a clear vision and you will bring clarity to your brand.

Mission is how you intend to make your vision a reality. Are you on one?

A mission statement is not theoretical, but rather makes a factual declaration of your brand’s intent. Think about a mission statement much like a clearly articulated military mission. It’s definitive and directional––it maps and identifies what your brand plans to do, and how it will realize its vision.

Values are the beliefs and principles that guide your actions. Are yours clear?

Values are imperative––they are what the company believes in. They are fundamental beliefs that define the human-centered principles that guide the brand’s decision-making, debates and disagreements, and help define the character and integrity of the company. Hiring based on the company’s values is fundamental. When the values are universally understood, they help to shape the company’s authenticity and culture. If you or your team can’t remember your brand’s values or describe how to use them, then it’s time to re-examine and redefine them. Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” film is a great example of how a company’s values can create a powerful story people can connect to.

Strategy is how you get there. Have you written yours?

A well-crafted strategy is like the unfolding plot in a great story. It connects the characters, helps define their actions and compels the audience to pay attention and stay engaged. A compelling and clear strategy deliberately directs and guides the actions of your employees, ensuring they have clear focus and are directionally connected to the overall goals of the company. Strategy defines the actions that complete your brand’s mission.

Is your 3-year strategy clear?

A well-thought, data-driven strategy that is clearly defined and shared in a compelling manner creates confidence and connection among everyone responsible for driving the brand. Validating your existing strategy, or developing a new strategy based on the current or pending conditions of the business, is the responsibility of a responsive, diligent and adaptive leader. Strategy that is delivered like a compelling story helps achieve the brand mission and deliver meaningful results.

photo credit: BurningQuestion via photopin cc