Issue: Take control of your department's image by creating a consistent internal marketing message.
Benefit: When done well, such branding raises your profile with execs and the rank and file, plus it can enhance your career.
Action: Follow the B-R-A-N-D strategy, outlined below, for creating and communicating your department's brand.
What do people in your organization think of when they hear "HR"? That cumulative answer is your department's "brand," and you have more control over it than you think.
"You have a brand whether you made it on purpose or not, so you might as well make sure it's the brand you want to convey," says Vicki Hess, principle of Catalyst Consulting in Owings Mills, Md.
HR rarely thinks about selling itself internally. But by taking steps to market your services and create that brand, you'll improve your reputation among top execs as a strategic thinker.
To brand correctly:
Brainstorm. Meet with HR staff (or a select group of execs) to define HR's values and mission. Write a mission statement. Most organizations have an overall mission statement, but not specifically for HR.
"Decide how your HR mission statement will tap into the organization's (mission statement) to create your brand," says Hess. "They need to fit hand-in-glove."
Consider creating a slogan that captures your brand.
Example: At a hospital with a "Freedom to Care" public brand, the HR department tagged its brand as "Freedom to Serve Employees."
Reach out to employees. Ask them what they want from HR. Use questionnaires, interviews, surveys or one-on-ones. Use their answers to help hone HR's goals and mission.
Advertise. Work with your marketing department to piggyback on the organization's brand. Create a logo that connects visually with the organization's and put it on all material and letters distributed by HR, including cover sheets for. Advertise your brand on the organization's Web site and Intranet, and through newsletters, e-mail and hallway bulletin boards.
Encourage executives and managers to cite HR's brand when they appear in company publications and speak to employees. Give successful HR programs catchy names (e.g., the employee referral program becomes "Catch a Rising Star.")
Network. "A brand isn't made just by staying in the office and sending stuff out," Hess says. Walk around, listen to employees and orally reinforce the brand.
Deliver the goods. Back up your brand promises with action. Example: If your brand is about high tech, every HR form should be available online. If it's about high touch, you should have an open-door policy.