Every so often I go through the exercise of defining what it is that I do. And generally it does not work out too well, because it's very hard to capture many different interests and skills under one umbrella.
Professionally, I am a long-term civil servant (all opinions my own). As for the things I have done here? You name it: Over a span of fifteen years it's every kind of writing plus a shocking amount of technology management, just because I love computers and there is an ever-growing overlap between communication and automation.
Yet none of it, for me, can happen without branding. Not the "advertising" kind of branding you see on Mad Men. The real kind of branding, the much more difficult kind, the one that is unglamorous and hardly ever spoken of.
Branding which is the work of the organization to deliver on a promise consistently and at the same time evolve to serve its customers better.
The hot new term nowadays is "customer service," but I've seen CX go very much the wrong way as organizations blindly flail their arms about it, unsure of what the boundaries are between satisfying an ask and enforcing the limits of their offering.
Branding, as a management tool, is the answer to that problem because it tells you exactly who you are, what you will do, and what you simply cannot or will not.
Unfortunately I have even seen brand consultancies screw this one up, as they promote themselves as specialists in X only to be asked to do Y, and they dare not turn away the business because business is money in the bank.
In government of course where one's stakeholders are myriad, shifting and difficult to prioritize you will constantly see scope creep associated with the brand promise. What good is a piece of paper in the face of a demand from someone very important?
From a technology point of view, branding is key to all phases of a project from requirements development to implementation of the finished product. Because there is no commercial-off-the-shelf way to define every organization uniquely. For example, some may wish to begin with a very flat administrative structure for a product, where multiple customers across departments have the rights to customize it at will. Others will be tightly controlled and chain-of-command about it.
All of this has to do with branding, but it's not branding like they teach it to you in school. It's branding in the organizational development sense: Who are we and consequently, what do we want to portray to the world, beginning with our employees?
I was talking with someone today about what it is that I do. Technically the term is "executive correspondence" -- I call it being the "chief letter writer." But in reality the brand of my organization is not like that. A better term for me would be "facilitator," perhaps, or "collaboration specialist," or maybe "productivity and efficiency partner," or similar. It's really hard to define, because part of what we do is to work together closely, and in the end we are all simply members of a team that serves people in their time of need.
"In the end it is all branding." Is this approach to business a simplistic one? Sure. And I could equally say that "everything is technology" or "everything is training" or what have you.
In the end, the question is, what is the framework or lens that you look at the work environment through?
For me, it is one thing. For you, it may well be another.
Knowing what you focus on, is also knowing what kind of skills you bring to the workplace, and life.
Posted by Dannielle Blumenthal 6/7/18. All opinions are the author's own. This post is hereby released by the author into the public domain. Circle image via Wikipedia.