On the surface, having your Human Resources Department work closely with your branding agency may seem like an unorthodox move. After all, in most cases, branding agencies (and their close cousins, advertising agencies) focus on external communications, while HR departments tend to focus on internal issues that have an impact on employees. But despite these seemingly different focal points, on the world stage, many organisations are encouraging collaboration between their branding and HR teams. This inter-departmental collaboration is being driven primarily by the recognition that there can sometimes be overlaps between the respective goals of both teams.
Here in Barbados, the idea of a creative agency collaborating with a company’s HR department is steadily gaining traction as CEOs and their management teams focus on building strong, consistent brands that are respected by customers, employees and the wider public. Increasingly, this focus involves branding agencies working not only with the company’s marketing department, but also with company professionals who are responsible for HR matters.
We can all agree that HR professionals shouldn’t be tasked with developing advertising campaigns and that branding professionals shouldn’t be tinkering with their clients’ structured HR programmes. But that doesn’t mean that the two teams shouldn’t be collaborating in some key areas. Here are five reasons why your branding and HR teams should work more closely together.
- A conversation about your brand should include a conversation about your company culture
There are many, many different definitions of the word ‘brand’, but when you strip away all of the industry jargon, a brand can be defined as the way your customers and employees (and the wider public for that matter) feel about your company, its products and its services. Here’s the thing: Your company culture can have a tremendous impact on the way that people view your organisation. And that’s why any conversation about your brand should include a conversation about your company culture. If your branding agency is to have any chance of strengthening your brand, it has to have a solid understanding of your company culture and what the major brand hurdles might be from an employee perspective. Your HR department should be in a great position to give your agency a comprehensive overview of your organisation’s culture and any challenges which the agency is likely to face while trying to strengthen the organisation’s brand.
- Your agency needs the support of your HR team
Your marketing campaigns don’t exist in a vacuum. Chances are, you need your employees (especially your customer-facing employees) to support your marketing initiatives, respond to customer queries and help guide customers to the solutions that best suit their needs. If your company’s campaigns bring new customers through the door, but those customers are greeted by disgruntled employees or poor service, customers may leave and never come back. It’s easy to see that your company’s customer service can have a serious impact on the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives. However, as the saying goes, “your customers’ experience will never exceed your employees’ experience”. If your company has a customer service challenge, chances are that it also has an employee engagement issue. And if your company has an employee engagement problem, it needs to be addressed by your leadership team, working hand in hand with your HR department. Urgently. If the engagement problem isn’t addressed, your company’s various marketing initiatives could easily be compromised.
- Your HR department deserves to know your brand strategy
Your HR department is responsible for activities such as recruitment, talent management and performance management programmes for your employees. Considering that the selection and performance of your employees most definitely have an impact on your overall brand, one could argue that your HR department is already an important part of your branding team. And as a key influencer of your brand, your HR department deserves to have an up-to-date, comprehensive understanding of your brand strategy. The more your HR team understands about your brand strategy, the better that team will be when it comes to recruiting and retaining top performers that can thrive in your company’s culture. Your brand team can help by keeping your HR team updated about the direction of your company’s branding initiatives and about the types of individuals that the company needs to help build a stronger brand.
- Your employees deserve to see the link between the ‘internal brand’ and the ‘external brand’
By working together, your branding and HR teams can put together talent development programmes and other initiatives that clearly make the connection between HR-related themes (such as living the company’s vision, mission and core values) and brand-related activities (such as the ability to deliver exceptional customer service). Making this connection is important because your team members deserve to understand how their actions and attitudes can affect the company’s brand.
- Your branding agency can help your HR department win the war for top talent.
Every company has a reputation as an employer (whether it knows it or not), and this employer brand can have an impact on the quality of talent that the organisation can attract. Some companies may have poor employer brands, not because they are terrible employers, but because they don’t do a good job of letting the market know about their culture and about benefits such as talent development and opportunities for career development. If your HR department recognises that your company needs to do a better job of enticing top talent, your branding agency can lend a hand by coming up with brand initiatives to help attract your industry’s best and brightest.
By working together, your branding and your HR teams could unleash powerful problem-solving synergies that could seriously benefit your organisation. If your branding agency’s interactions with your company are currently restricted to the marketing department, consider allowing your agency to collaborate with your HR department. The results could work in your favour.
Blueprint Creative is an award-winning Branding Agency specialising in Brand Strategy, Communications, Design, Employee Brand Engagement and Customer Experience. We work with CEOs, marketing teams and other business leaders to help their organisations build stronger, more competitive brands. We’ve won a number of ADDY awards for our design work, and two Barbados Best Employer Awards for HR practices and working environment.