I scratch my head to this day that my professional life currently sits at the intersection of brand, culture and human resources. How did a business-centric, brand relations pro get caught up in HR?
Luck, mostly. But I'm convinced that those three elements, together, are key to making a major impact in the modern organization. With social-everything, the power of your company brand is in the hands of "the people" more than ever. Are your people and your culture included in your brand strategy? They better be.
I was delighted to see a post this week in FastCompany.com called, "Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch" by Shawn Parr ("The Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond,") which outlines how the skills and disciplines of each of these areas come together to make magic.
I've been involved in big brand work both with, and without, the people/culture/HR side of the equation as part of the strategy. When the "brand people" alone were involved, we could show the optics of success, but the emotions of the people never came along for the ride. That oversight set us up for years of pain internally, and years of "two-or three-sides-to-the-story" in front of customers.
The next time I addressed the brand subject in a big, concerted, way, I was involved from the inside, in a Total Customer Experience role that bridged both marketing, business analytics folks, and human resources, and looked at our behavior from the eyes of the customer. This also brought great results, and won back a ton of business -- but, candidly it wore the cloak of a corporate initiative more than it wore the sustained cultural fabric of passion. Like most corporate initiatives, it started with a bang, and wore on over time.
The third time was a charm, and personal favorite. It focused on the people of the company, and enabled them to BE the brand. Human Resources, Marketing and Passionate Employees Everywhere had the big seats at the table for this work. The approach took significantly fewer budget dollars, was more fun (even for the customers, prospects, and potential employees) and continues to offer sustainable, visible impact. Unlike a classic corporate initiative, this approach starts nicely, and grows sweeter over time.
Brand always begins on the inside. The smart companies, IMHO, take the time to embrace that reality.
Suggestion: Elevate your brand by getting to know your true brand first. The one your employees either praise or swear at. Include your employees in your vision and brand goals. Then enjoy it as THEY make it theirs, and make it happen with more glory than your millions can buy.
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Any great brand building tips or strategies for the new era from you?
Serendipitously enough, as I was image searching for a photo to add to this post, I found this blog post, "Culture Isn't Enough," on the same subject by the fascinating Denise Lee Yohn. Excellent read.
-- Polly Pearson