Have you taken the time to discover what your personal HR brand is, or even more important, what your HR department’s brand is? Thinking about “brand,” or what we want to be known for, isn’t something that naturally pops up as a discussion point. We talk around it during performance reviews, we try to gauge it during interviews for new roles, but ultimately, we put our heads down and do the work.
Definition of Brand: a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic
You haven’t taken the time to consider how you’ve positioned yourself within the context of others. Or made a concerted effort to create a winning brand for your HR-self or your HR department. Instead, you’ve likely collected skills, taken on roles with increasing responsibility, maybe found a niche within HR that you thrive in, and kept going.
Can you imagine if say, Coca Cola put their soda out into the market without establishing their brand? Or maybe Apple (or iPod, etc.)? Perhaps more granular, does your digital marketing analyst have the same brand as your social media marketing coordinator?
The quickest way to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd, both within the HR community (or your department) and to senior leaders outside of HR, is to establish a well-known brand for who you are, what you can do, and where you stand with HR.
As the future of work continues to develop, one this is becoming crystal clear: the old way of doing HR, of “blending in,” being a “yes man” to the company, not doing the right thing for your employees – is not going to be acceptable.
Instead of sitting back and waiting for that to catch up with you and find yourself out of a job, why not instead, proactively consider (heck, for the next 10 minutes even!), what you want to be known for in HR?
4 Elements to Create Your HR Brand
#1: Understand Your Audience
Your brand is reflective of how others perceive and see you – it’s not about how YOU see yourself. In this way, you need to fully understand who your audience is, so you can create and reinforce a brand that resonates with them.
Who are you trying to influence? Is that audience other HR professionals, your boss, SHRM, the business leader you support, your colleagues, and so on? Clearly define who it is need to “buy your product” – so you can create a brand around your ideal audience of influencers.
If you think back to the Apple example, they clearly defined (and continue to do so) their market by specific types of users and excluding other types of users. For their fans, they are bees knees – for those outside of their target audience, they are just another tech company. The same would be true for you once you clearly identify the audience you’re targeting.
#2: Who Are You?
The most important part of your HR brand is to fully understand and accept, what you, uniquely bring to the table. Your unique skills and experiences is what will always set you apart from others within the marketplace and the HR space.
Inventory what makes you a standout HR professional. Go on, start bragging on yourself. If you need to, think of it as a skills assessment capture for a Talent Management Review session. 😉 Get clear about what makes you, you – and why that would be interesting, important, awesome even, to your ideal audience.
#3: What’s Your Story?
Once you’ve captured your unique skills, start evaluating what your story is – how you got to where you are right now. If you’re into comics or gaming, think of this as your origin story. How did you get to be the expert in “x” space within HR? What conspired to bring you to your current role? What are your interest, beliefs, ideas, specialties, thoughts, etc., for HR going forward?
When you think about your story, remember to frame it in terms of your HR brand. What information about your story would be interesting to your audience? What would be influential to them; what would create the connection between you and them – that’s your story. If that still seems difficult, consider what your audience should like and know about you.
#4: Reinforce Your Brand… Always.
The funny thing about a brand is that it can easily be forgotten, unless it’s constantly reinforced. The same will be true for your HR brand. You don’t have to take out a commercial like other big brands to constantly reinforce your brand, but you should be relating your work and yourself back to your brand whenever possible.
For example, take on projects that fit within you brand so you have the opportunity to reinforce your skillset. Use your “buzz words” or keywords, when speaking to your ideal audience. Remind your target audience about your current and past successes – don’t let your wins pass you by!
Consider this, if done correctly – your HR brand will announce to your audience, who you are and what you excel at before you even walk into a room. Credibility and brand awareness will help you shape the future of HR. Don’t let it pass you by!