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Terri Radcliff, the YMCA‘s VP of Talent & Knowledge Management, discusses how her federated organization built an internal leadership culture that is on par with corporations. Creating a strong brand does not just mean marketing assets, signage, or value propositions, it also means unifying language for internal processes. Ultimately, when the company’s attitude is built on a solid foundation, its message spreads out externally, to one’s customers, and can have profoundly positive impacts on their experience with the business.

Branded HR is not an new concept, and the resurgence of “internal marketing” is a testament to the importance of having a strong, repeatable, and easily understood company culture.

How does your product offering or service compare? Does the internal attitude of your company funnel through these offerings, reaching out to your potential customers through marketing? If not, what kind of improvements could you make to better translate your unique culture?

Sage Advice creates micro-learning lessons for leadership development and employee training through inspiring video tips and engaging interviews.


Terri Radcliff:          It’s really all about getting staff excited, inspired, and talking in one voice about what it means to be a leader in the Y. The word that comes to mind for me is really culture and that everything that we’re doing with our staff, all the touch points have to be reinforcing the culture that we want to build. We went from really not having any leadership brand, and we completely transformed the leadership development experience and developed a custom competency model and custom leadership development experiences along with an internal credentialing process, which is really unique to the Y.

And then we also wrapped around a staff engagement and inspiration strategy, which actually resulted in a really strong leadership brand that is important, both for the members who are coming into the Y as well as for the staff who are working in the Y. It’s really helping build a common culture in a federated organization, which is the really amazing thing, because it’s hard enough for corporations to build a strong and consistent culture and have that common language. What is going to bring the brand to life and make it vibrant isn’t the signs on the outside of the Y building, what really is going to bring it to life is what every member who’s walking in with their kids after school, what they’re experiencing. I think it’s definitely not going to be a short-term thing that trend of having branded HR.