Branding From the Inside Out - Black Enterprise

Branding From the Inside Out

James Hutchinson

Title: Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice of HUB International Northeast

Location: New York

Age: 45

Power Play:  Hutchinson manages a department of senior brokers responsible for the negotiation and placement of all insurance coverages for HUB International Northeast’s clients, as well as developing and maintaining all insurance company relationships and the implementation of the insurance marketing strategy. Hutchinson and his team handle numerous industries, including real estate, construction, restaurant, and manufacturing and distribution

When one thinks of building a brand, they automatically assume that the brand is for the customer. Why does building a brand for your employees matter as well?
In any large multidepartmental organization there are three levels of brand building: Within your department, within your organization, and externally to your clients. The first is to build the identity of your department. This is accomplished by developing your department’s mission, goals, and objectives, your processes, and the right personnel to execute the process. Our success and/or failure both from within the HUB organization or to our customers is a direct result of the departments and, more important, individuals within the department’s execution and deliverance of the brand. Our department brand is our promise to represent HUB International and our customer fairly and accurately. I believe that if you are successful at building your departmental brand by getting your team to believe in you, your message, and the process, then projecting that brand within your organization and externally becomes easier.

How do you go about understanding the needs of your employees so that you can create a brand that’s for them and benefits them?
You have to talk to and interact with your employees constantly. You have to build a true team. The first step in building a successful team is picking the right personalities and skill sets. Not everyone should think, act, or perform the same. They need to get along with you and each other. Then you have to explain your philosophy and back it up when it is challenged internally or externally. If your employees see that you not only believe in the brand but will protect it, they will also. It becomes real. I try to get my employees to understand that their individual reputations and work product are their most prized possessions and that their current and future success depends on their individual branding of themselves.

How do managers balance the emphasis of the brand they present to their customers as well as the one they present to their employees?
Both brands should be treated equally because if your employees do not believe, then the brand will never translate to the customer. I don’t think that you can have one brand without the other.

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.