The Two Reasons Why HR is Critical to Your Brand
The beauty of an Inside-Out Brand is that the brand promise—the operational structure behind the brand—is developed based on the differentiated products, services or behaviors that the organization is already successfully delivering to the consumer or target audience. As a result, there is alignment between what the organization is saying about themselves in the market and who they actually are.
For the Inside-Out Branding process to be successful, full support is required from the leadership of the marketing and communications team. This is expected in any branding effort. However, more importantly, it requires equal support from the CEO, senior management and, ultimately, members of the rank-and-file workforce. As a result, in large corporations, marketing alone cannot lead this. The Human Resources team in the organization must also become a partner in this effort for two important reasons—one immediate and one long-term:
1. Up-front Project Engagement
The Human Resources team must work in collaboration with the marketing communications folks to help facilitate the engagement of the various levels of staff in the brand planning process. Once the CEO has defined the vision and senior management have provided their input, there are the practical matters of workforce surveys to be completed, and staff focus groups must be recruited and conducted.
This engagement with the workforce serves two important purposes. First, it documents any gaps between the Vision of the CEO and the actual behavior within the company. These gaps are crucial to acknowledge (and correct) prior to establishing your brand promise. Second, it generates excitement among the workforce for the development of the brand. In order to become long-term brand ambassadors, the workforce must feel that the brand is both consistent with their everyday experience and that their opinions were requested and incorporated in the brand planning process.
2. Hiring and Managing to Support the Brand Promise
Human Resources also becomes the vital link that ensures the delivery of the brand promise every day. Your target audience’s day-in and day-out experience of your brand is largely defined by the people at your company with whom they engage. In addition, Human Resources helps to define the operational strategies, making sure the workforce understands the core values of the organization and delivers on them every day. They also define the terms for employee evaluation and incentivization based on fulfilling those core values. Ultimately, this feeds into the brand promise.
While the marketing and communications folks are busy making the brand come to life with works and images, the Human Resources folks are the key to making it come to life in your people.