Branding: Where the rubber meets the road.

Republished on Idealog Magazine

The internal and external brand. Google it and you’ll be told everything and more about whether these should be the same, different or something in between. It’ll will depend on the nature of the business you are in, and the culture and the size of your company whether these two are exactly the same, completely separate or even exist at all.

I’ve just been through a company rebrand and we are in the rollout stage. The touchpoints like business cards,

Imageproposals, LinkedIn and website messaging,  company signage, uniforms and car wraps are underway or have been rolled out, they were easy to execute as the brand guidelines stipulate clearly how the brand should be used on these types of things. However, the rollout internally hasn’t been as breezy, as the conflict between the strategic drivers of the external brand and the internal operational needs of the internal brand arise.

It seems to boil down to a question of marketing and HR. Marketing’s role is to curate the external communication methods of the company, and be guardians of the traditional “brand”, whereas HR’s mission is to attract, recruit and retain the best talent possible for the business. One tool they can use to do this is to develop and nurture an internal “brand”, driven by the company’s culture.

So how do you satisfy the different internal (HR) and external (marketing) needs of the brand while ensuring that the messages align? Just to be clear, the messages must align for the brand to be authentic, i.e you can’t externally promote that your company is “professional” if a customer engages with one of your staff who is wearing stubbies or calls them “bro” over the phone.

Assuming your brand is built on qualities that your company delivers to customers and believes internally (if unsure ask lots of questions, informally through casual conversations and formally through surveys to find out whether the internal and external align), you should put HR and marketing in the same office.

If you are big enough to have both departments, make sure they understand each other by having them work together. If you only have marketing or HR, make sure they are involved in the processes relating to the other. If you are really serious about this branding business, you are wasting your time recruiting people that don’t fit your “brand”. Attitude and personality is everything, skills can be taught, so get HR to understand marketing and vice versa.

I read an article recently about why HR and marketing should merge, and the underlying premise is that both departments have exactly the same purpose: to attract and retain people, whether they be customers or employees. If your brand is valuable to you, you’ll see the sense in merging the two, to ensure your organization is living its message.

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