The team you lead has been given the charge to impact your company. Maybe you run the Human Resources group and have been tasked with transforming diversity and inclusion, or perhaps your IT team is heading up a major technological upgrade.

You may find yourself in a position where your company has been acquired, and you need to redefine who your team is and how they will operate. Regardless, your group needs to step up and wield influence on the rest of your organization.

In the consulting work I've done, I've found that team branding can provide an invaluable path to productivity.

Why and when you might need a team brand. 

In fact, having your team define their brand can have a powerful impact on your team's alignment, effectiveness and engagement with each other -- and the rest of their organization. Five of the most common reasons I encourage clients to create a dedicated team brand include:

  1. When your team would benefit from a deeper alignment and commitment to the current team/project strategic direction
  2. If your team desires closer relationships among team members and a clearly defined code of conduct
  3. When you want to create renewed inspiration and engagement within the team, project or departmental purpose
  4. If the resolution of ongoing issues/disagreements about team direction is needed
  5. When you are forming a new project or intact team and/or have experienced a major change in team players, purpose, objectives or strategy

Should you change your team brand?

In the same way that a business or personal brand changes with time and circumstance, your team brand is likely to evolve as well.

I often find that changes in the company, the market overall, or the players on your team can create a need to pivot and adjust the team brand. I often suggest that the leaders I work with conduct a yearly off-site just to revisit their team branding.

Oddly enough, many teams have never even considered the idea that they have a separate "brand" to begin with. As one of my clients, a Vice President of marketing for a top-ten high-tech company, said, "We here in the marketing department are very bad at marketing the marketing department."

Three key questions to ask yourself. 

The good news is that crafting a brand for a team is strikingly similar to creating one for a business or even a personal brand. When I do team branding off-sites, I always ask my clients a few key questions as a starting point:

  • Where do we stand today in terms of our brand and reputation in the organization as a whole, and where do we want to be? Where are the gaps?
  • What are the short-term and long-term impacts our team wants to make? What team brand would be required to get us there?
  • How will we relate to each other? What principles, values and commitments do we want to stand for in our team and in the organization as a whole that will express our desired brand?

Once these questions have been answered (and aligned on), the next step is to represent the team brand to the rest of the organization.

Your team brand in action. 

The classic mistake teams make here is thinking that talking is the same thing as acting.

Beyond having a well-crafted elevator speech for the team that creates a consistency of message, the secret is to translate that into the team's strategic plan. Some of the things to consider include:

  • Adjusting, deleting or changing any items on the team's strategic plan to reflect the team brand
  • Adding any items to the team's current strategic plan to reflect the team brand
  • Changes you need to make as a team (and as individual members) to make your team brand a reality in the day-to-day way you work

In the end, your team's brand can serve as an announcement to the business that your group is a positive force for change, and even transformation. Just bear in mind that actions speak louder than words.

So focus less on what you say to your colleagues about who you are as a team, and more on leaving them with an experience of your team's brand that has them advocating for just how great you really are.