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BLOGBrand Building: Strong On the Inside

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Branding, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, WebTagged as: , ,

How much does your organization spend on your brand? Usually, this question yields answers in the following spending categories: research, logo design, collateral production, messaging, and ads. And maybe content,  Social Media, and a few other things.

While all of these are important, this list is missing the two fundamental delivery mechanisms of the brand itself: people, and the online user experience.

People: Over the last several decades, the HR function within many organizations has been reduced to the transactional: payroll, posting job ads, and processing staff changes. Yet the HR function is critically important to ensuring that the brand is firmly embedded into the culture:

  • Hiring the right people
  • Orientation and onboarding
  • Performance appraisal process
  • Training
  • Career planning and succession
  • Alumni programs

Each of these areas (and more) directly impact the brand: If the brand “spend” excludes people, then a huge opportunity has been missed. Without brand strength on the inside, there can’t be brand strength on the outside.

In other words, the brand spend must also be made with the HR department.  (Note that brand spend on people doesn’t mean giving tons of logo’d products to staff: it means embedding brand throughout the culture.)

Digital User Experience: The number and frequency of online touchpoints (web/social media/messaging/automated email) has increased dramatically over the last number of years for two main reasons: internal pressure to reduce costs, and external pressure for always-available self-service.  At the same time, users’ expectations of a simple, hassle-free online experience have also increased dramatically.  If your users become frustrated interacting with you online, they will “abandon” you. Or worse, share their poor experience with the world via Social Media.

Improving the online user experience means several things:

  • Using the most up-to-date thinking for design, information architecture, and site logic.
  • Ensuring that a community management strategy is in place and that the function is staffed and trained.
  • Ensuring that any existing call center (or front-line service staff) are empowered – and technically able to respond to chat/SMS/Twitter, and any other online outreach.

In other words, the brand spend must also be made with the IT department.

If brand spend must occur in HR and IT, why doesn’t it?  Two main reasons:

  1. HR and IT groups are not directly accountable for the brand – they have their own challenges.
  2. Brand projects are often outsourced to agencies, who are rarely interested in digging into something messy, like HR.  Or are more keen on delivering functionality on a project basis, then taking on the wider digital user experience challenge.


Brand actually needs to infuse every group within your organization, not just marketing, HR, and IT. This week, make sure that it is, starting first with HR, then with IT.

Not sure where to start? Happy to spend 30 minutes over the phone doing a short diagnostic on brand building in this context. Reach out at 416-918-5384, or via

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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