Brand management at corporations is usually handled by the marketing department. Most of the energy in defining and building a brand is to communicate the values of your company, its services and products, to potential customers, clients and other stakeholders. So I’m used to getting puzzled looks when people find out that I’m responsible for both brand and human resources at ING Americas. For some reason “your employees are your brand’s biggest ambassadors,” can be a cliché, but people are still surprised when I point out the degree to which ING’s brand drives employee engagement at the company. Delivering on our brand promise externally begins with delivering the employee promise internally. The human resources function supports brand by providing mechanisms and processes that identify brand behaviors for employees, showing them how to “live” the brand and by also creating brand ambassadors. Likewise, brand supports human resources by creating a positive external brand image that helps to attract and retain employees. This integrated approach has created a brand-based, customer-focused, winning culture at ING that has enhanced data sharing, improved operating efficiency, leveraged cross utilization of talent/expertise, expanded career pathing, supported the stakeholder-driven strategy and nurtured employees who truly live the brand promise. In the end, an expensive external brand promise which cannot be actually experienced by your customers when they interact with your company—rings extremely hollow and could potentially backfire—not cool!
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