Recently, I was involved with the redesign of a newsletter for our organization. I have always believed that communication is an integral part of any service organization – including IT. What we communicate is our story and our promise. This creates a perception to our internal customer about who we are and what we are about. At first glance, IT organizations and branding seem to be mutually exclusive. However, I disagree.
Branding in General
First, let’s talk about branding in general. Many professionals confuse the term “branding” as synonymous to “advertising”, “communications”, and “marketing”. They use it interchangeably. This confusion is costing companies a lot of money. Companies that market their products or services without first establishing their brand identities are not likely to achieve their objectives. Branding is about the customer’s perception of your product. It is the image of your products and services in relation to your organization.
Now how about branding in an IT perspective? This goes in line with the general concept of branding. IT branding is finding and knowing your IT organization’s identity. In many small- to medium-sized companies, internal customers only interact with IT when they have computer and IT application issues. This shapes their understanding and perception of the kind of IT organization they have. Branding for these IT organizations is getting their users to think that they are the sole solution to their IT-related problems. Once your IT is perceived as “only”, there is no place else to call.
How to Grow your IT Brand
The IT organization’s brand grows as the company expands. The IT organization’s brand evolves as the enterprise matures through the different levels of Process Culture maturity. Take time to revisit the article that I posted last year on Process Culture. As your organization’s Process Culture evolves and IT takes on a more important role, your IT brand grows with it. The IT organization’s identity is linked to this Process Culture maturity.
Just like the most popular ones in the market today—Apple, Coke, Marlboro, Google, the business has to strive to grow and improve its IT organization’s brand. It is important that the IT organization must have a good understanding of the internal customer segments in order to position its services appropriately. In small IT organizations, this means positioning support so as to solve more IT computer issues and improve internal customer service. In more mature organizations, IT can position services to create more business value. IT branding will help your organization become the partner of choice internally.
I like the article Russ Aebig wrote about branding for IT organizations, entitled “Attraction of Identity”. He started with some very good questions and I am sharing it here because I want to end this article with the same questions: “As an organization, who are you? What is your internal and external story? If you cannot crisply define yourself in a few words you likely have a problem on your hands.”
Photo courtesy of ignitionblog.
6 thoughts on “Branding IT Organizations”
To me, branding is something that everyone in IT does every day: it is how the user community perceives you. I believe that branding is a reflection of the culture that drives the IT organization, or any other group for that matter.
Purposely branding IT takes a loooooooooooot of thought and effort. It requires a clear vision, effective communications within as well as outside IT, strong executive sponsorship and a well-motivated organization. Facelifting the Newsletter is just a spec in the bigger picture…
What are your thoughts?
I couldn’t agree more with your opinion. Branding is all about human perspective, a sense of belonging and participation. It’s about identity and culture. More often than not organizations take the identity of its leaders and that’s why it’s so important to have strong executive sponsor when organization takes on a challenge of improving its brand.
I think its interesting that even internal IT organizations can brand itself. I never thought about it at all. But personally, I think branding (for internal customers) not only applies to IT but also other areas in the company as well — finance, human resources, marketing, etc. These sub-organizations, especially in today’s trying times, need to position themselves as creating value for the business. It would be very easy to downsize a department that is perceived only as a cost center as opposed to a value creation center.
In terms of IT, branding is definitely an advantage. I know of some companies where the IT department became so effective that it was spun-off as an entirely separate entity catering not only to internal but also external customers.