It’s widely agreed upon these days that companies need to prioritize building a brand: it’s crucial for public relations, new customer acquisition, marketing, name recognition, and more.
But what about the internal brand, especially on the People side?
Brand shouldn’t just be for marketing teams. Brand is about consistency – and consistency establishes trust, which is essential for HR teams.
Just think about how you want employees to perceive you – i.e. brand attributes – whenever they interact with your team or something you created. Maybe the attributes you’re aiming for are honesty and transparency, or knowledge and authority – your brand can be whatever works for your People team and your organization. It’s just important that you have one.
Today, most HR teams don’t have a defined brand. But there’s a lot of value to be gained by actually taking the time to shape it.
Tony Hsieh, the late CEO of Zappos put it this way, “Your company’s culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin.”
So, how can People teams weave company culture and brand together to create their own brand voice? Let’s take a look at our top 5 tips.
5 branding lessons to develop your internal People team brand
As we know, most external branding work takes place within marketing teams, which is why we’ve chosen to pull key lessons from marketing’s deep branding experience that can be applied to internally brand your team, culture, and company. While many of these work for branding a product or service, they can also help you develop the brand voice for your People team.
1) Define your voice and values
As mentioned earlier, a key part of branding is consistency, which is why your People team will need to define the tone of voice for your internal brand. This won’t be stagnant – voice changes over time and updates to meet the moment – but you should at least get some guidelines down so anyone speaking or writing on behalf of the brand can be consistent.
This Hubspot blog has some great insight on what a brand voice is and how to create one. It’s written for external branding (i.e. marketing), but you can still apply the same principles to determine your internal brand voice.
2) Utilize content
If you’ve ever seen a company post a blog (like this one or the Hubspot blog above), ebook, video, or podcast, then you’re familiar with content marketing. But People teams can use content for their internal brand, too.
For instance: think of all your knowledge base articles. Are they consistent in tone? Easy to read? Consistently updated? Any content your team distributes on HR topics should view employees as the “customer”. You’re selling them on the company and the brand, so make the effort to do it right.
3) Communicate consistently
Internal communications are probably the most important part of your HR branding strategy. After all, how will employees become familiar with the brand if they never hear about it?
Communications tie in with utilizing content (step 2). Think of it like you’re creating internal content marketing + advertising campaigns. This might mean sending internal email newsletters on topics employees care about, filming interviews with leadership about the company strategy and upcoming changes, or even hanging posters if you have a physical office.
Be sure to build out a calendar so the team can align communications with any important events throughout the year.
And don’t forget – this is just as important as your external communications.
4) Recognize and reward
We don’t want to tell you the specifics about how to build your People team brand voice, but we can guarantee you that it will be more successful if it encourages recognition for employees. This comes in many forms, but one thing is certain: people want to be recognized when they’re doing a good job. And as companies grapple with The Great Resignation and the War for Talent, you can’t afford to lose employees simply because people weren’t recognized.
So, build it into your People team brand. Include a “shout-out” channel on Slack where you ask for weekly input on who’s doing a great job. Feature employee achievements and milestones (professional or personal) in the internal newsletter. And most of all, don’t forget that everyone – from support staff to C-suite – deserves recognition.
5) Measure and ask for feedback
Finally, like any other HR initiative, it’s helpful to include measurable targets for your branding efforts and to ask employees for feedback along the way. Branding is not a “set it and forget it” job, so you’ll need to readjust if you discover from your metrics or feedback surveys that something isn’t working.
Forbes reported that just 30% of employees have confidence that their company follows through on internal branding commitments. Follow these steps and be intentional about your People team’s brand voice, and you’ll be on the right side of that divide.