The power of partnership: How HR and Corporate Communications can unite to build a powerhouse brand

One of my favorite things about working with great healthcare companies: helping them realize their untapped potential.

Case in point – the best businesses know they need to build a corporate brand that supports their big-picture vision and long-term business strategy, but many don’t realize that a strong partnership between Human Resources (HR) and Corporate Communications (Corp. Comms.) plays an essential part in the process.

That’s because Corp. Comms. and HR have historically viewed themselves on separate paths, with the former focused on driving engagement with investors, news media and other external audiences, and the latter navigating relationships with current and prospective employees. Those two stakeholder titans then typically take different brand journeys, since each assumes their respective messages won’t resonate with audiences on the other side.

As a result, HR and Corp. Comms. often spin up separate campaigns, creating visual and narrative identities that can look and sound worlds apart. These competing campaigns work against each other and clash outright at times, diminishing the power of both.

When Corp. Comms. and HR step outside their lanes and work together to build an aligned brand that speaks authentically to all audiences, the impact is extraordinary, amplifying opportunities to reach customers and team members.

We’ve seen the results created when Corp. Comms. and HR emerge from their silos and come to the collective company table from the very start – contributing their perspectives to a shared brand-building discussion. By jointly discussing how the company’s global message can be crafted to land with external and internal audiences across the board, together they shape an authentic corporate voice and cohesive narrative that is relevant, resonant and compels action.

Biotech leader Exelixis recently set out to strengthen their image, and engaged Waterhouse Brands to unify the company’s brand, culture and communications efforts by rebuilding their corporate brand from the inside out. Stakeholders from both the Public Affairs (PA) and HR groups came together to co-develop the brand, creating the “Resilient Together” rallying cry as the essence of their company and stakeholder experience. “Resilient Together” serves as a collective call to action – inspiring internal and external audiences alike – to persevere in the challenging effort to bring new medicines to market that alleviate the suffering of patients living with cancer.

Following their brand launch, Exelixis created a comprehensive media campaign that was segmented across audiences for both PA and HR, including targeted executions for each audience that were deployed across media channels. Each aligned execution worked to strengthen rather than undermine the other’s – like the company’s new ad campaign to drive recruitment and raise awareness of Exelixis as an outstanding employer.

Blanketing the San Francisco Bay Area with a mix of ads ranging from billboards to BART station take-overs to digital and print ads, the company used a smart media ad buy strategy to support its recruiting objectives in conjunction with relocating its corporate headquarters from South San Francisco to Alameda. Centered around the core “Resilient Together” brand, the campaign exceeded performance goals and drove a substantial uptick in HR applications.

“Our very best chance to help cancer patients beyond the medicines we deliver is to speak with one voice,” says project sponsor Susan T. Hubbard, Exelixis’ Executive VP of Public Affairs and Investor Relations. “We’re using every option at our disposal to enhance that voice – including a stronger relationship between PA and HR – to convey that Exelixis is on a mission to help cancer patients recover stronger and live longer.”

Do you have your own HR/Corporate Communications success story to share? Let us know!

Related Articles