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Creating a Winning Brand for Your In-House Marketing Team

WRITTEN by: Bill Sterzenbach |
categories: Business Growth , Branding

Mar 2017



You have a talented and impactful in-house marketing team. Your passion, talent, and creativity drives results for your organization. Being successful isn't your problem, ensuring your team is recognized and rewarded for your successes may be.



What Is a Team Brand?

Your team brand is similar to your employer brand, only specific to your team. Your team brand could best be described as "what other teams think of your team". In this article, let's view it as "what you'd like other teams to think of your team".


Crafting Your Team Brand - Aspirational vs Actual

You should view your team brand through two lenses. One, what is your team brand today, and two, what do you aspire your team brand to be?

Yes! You can choose your team brand. While today you have a default team brand, at any time you can begin the journey of crafting a deliberate team brand.  Find some time to get away from the office and think deeply about who you want your team to be.

TAKEAWAY: Spend 4 hours someplace out of office with no email and no phone. If you don't feel that you can get your thoughts in a strategic place that day, wave it off and try again another day. Create 3 key attributes you'd like your team to be known for. Ask yourself "how will I measure whether my team is accomplishing this?".

What Is Your Team Brand?

Your team brand is a direct product of:

  • What you do
  • What you say
  • The behaviors you reward

Your actions speak volumes. As the leader of your team, your behavior contributes the most to your team brand. As with everything else in life, your brand starts with actions. Are you a hard worker? Great! Are you a creative leader? Better! Hard work is a fundamental component to success, not a critical element. What is the difference between fundamental and critical? Fundamental elements are intrinsically critical, meaning they are building blocks, and "assumed". Hard work alone never created success for anyone. If hard work were enough, laborers would live in mansions. You need hard work as a foundation, then you layer in imagination, tenacity, affinity, influence, and much more to be truly successful in a group dynamic.

Your actions should constantly reflect your mission. If you want your team to focus on strategic thinking, you should spend a significant portion of your time on strategy. If you want your team to focus on fast execution, you should model this behavior. Once you identify what you want from your team brand, you will have the direction you need to guide your behavior. Most likely your brand will become a defacto result of what is most important to you, so you will mostly be identifying and either removing or enhancing existing behaviors.

TAKEAWAY: Take a critical inventory of where you spend your time. This will show you the brand you are currently projecting and provide clear guidance on areas where you can improve.

Your words should support your actions. Your words play a smaller, but significant part in weaving the tapestry of your team brand. Not only are your peers watching and listening, your employees are as well. How you approach your day-to-day interactions will be 75% of the ongoing effort you put into building a team brand. Be success-centric, focusing only on solutions, finding ways to direct conversations to connecting, building, and growing. Of course you will need to talk about problems in order to solve them, it's how you frame these conversations that sets the tone for your team brand.

TAKEAWAY: Really reflect on what you are saying to your team and colleagues each day. Are you using negative language in your interactions with your colleagues? Are you over or under-sharing? As you reflect upon your conversations, are you proud of the day? This is another great opportunity to improve. Focus your words on your objectives. Leave everything else out. I suggest that any leader with a desire to improve engage in a 360 degree assessment. There are many firms that provide these and they are life-changing.

What You Value (or, What You Reward). Your praise should line up with your words. If you say "I value strategic thinking" but you reward "long hours", there is a disconnect between what you say and what you value.

Story Time!

I embarked upon a very unscientific experiment a few years back where I asked a business leader "What do you value most in your employees?". He provided the sort of list you may expect - the sort of things you'd read on LinkedIn - "challenges my thinking", "strategic mind", "thought leader", etc.

I waited about 2 months, and in a casual conversation, I asked him "who is one of your most valued employees?". He shared a name with me. I then asked "Why?".

As you may be already be guessing, this list was significantly different than the "theoretical" list he gave me in our previous conversation. This list included "hard worker", "doesn't ask a million questions". "will work through the night to hit a deadline".  Not one element he listed matched any element in the first list.

That being said, I knew from experience that his team was collectively great at the things he listed in the second conversation. He had successfully created a team of people who were great at the things he truly valued. How did they know what he valued? They knew through the behaviors he praised and rewarded.


Time to Take the Wheel

Take control of your team brand today. Set aside some time to reflect on what you'd like your team brand to be, create measurements, and get to work. You can impact so much with a strong team brand. You can improve the lives of your team, improve the experience of your customers, become more effective, and set a bold example for others.


Looking for some help in assessing or improving your team brand? We do that! Give us a call at 866-432-8235 to speak with an expert now

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