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By Sarah Colamarino, Brand Strategy Healthcare

For many years, Human Resources and Marketing have played distinctive roles, seldom coming together as partners to drive growth. Makes sense – Human Resources focus on employees and Marketing centers on customers.

It is time to re-think this division. Working together, Human Resources and Marketing can create and activate a company brand purpose that ignites both customers and employees. The company and the employer brand are one and must be jointly built and embedded into organizations. Why?

Think about the world around us. Brand purpose is of urgent importance to all stakeholders including investors, but especially customers and employees.

Brand purpose drives growth. Organizations with a strong sense of purpose are more than twice as likely to rank in the top ten quartiles of 10-year total shareholder return than their lower performing peers. They see 10% higher growth, and 41% higher present value of growth operations.

Consumers are 4 – 6 times more likely to buy from, trust, and champion companies with a strong purpose. 63% prefer to purchase from purpose-driven brands.  A degradation of trust can hurt competitiveness and cost potentially billions of dollars in revenue.

Yet, perhaps the most compelling reason for a motivating brand purpose rests with employees. One of the biggest threats to growth is the Great Resignation – the ability to both attract and retain the best people. Fortune 500 CEOs indicate that the talent shortage is the number one threat to growth, and more than 2/3rds are experiencing high rates of attrition among employees. A clearly defined brand purpose can make a difference. 60% of potential job applicants choose a place to work based on beliefs and values. Brand purpose boosts employee retention, and companies with a clear brand purpose have higher workforce satisfaction. And they show higher productivity and demonstrate 30% higher levels of innovation. 79% of leaders agree purpose adds value to their talent recruitment, retention and engagement efforts.

The benefits of brand purpose for internal and external stakeholders are clear. But they are more deeply intertwined than many believe. It is more crucial than ever to have one brand purpose that embraces consumers, customers, employees and even investors. Here’s why.

How a company treats its own employees is a major driver for external stakeholder perceptions. They are increasingly evaluating companies and making purchasing decisions based on how organizations treat their employees. Ethical operations and fair, creative employment are critical drivers. And both consumers and marketers agree that being a good employer with pay equity and fair labor practices are the basis of demonstrating brand purpose. When broken down by demographics, findings were remarkably consistent.

When we think about how stakeholders experience an organization, the need for linking internal and external brand purpose is even further amplified. Your employees are the brand.  Employees must understand and embrace their role in creating stakeholder experiences that authentically represent the brand. In our transparent world, what you say must be backed by what you do. If your brand is not reflected in how employees interact with stakeholders, authenticity and trust are jeopardized.

Major brands like Disney and Apple grow by creating distinctive customer experiences. But this is often an untapped source of distinction and growth for many organizations. The benefits of great customer experiences are clear. They create a tangible business advantage, resulting in a 16 percent premium on products and services, increased loyalty, willingness to try new product and openness with personal data.

How can HR and Marketing come together to build one brand purpose?

  • Identify what differentiates you. Build deep insights: Conduct research to. understand your employees’ and external stakeholders’ perceptions and aspirations for the organization. From this, develop a clear articulation of the company’s DNA and uncover its cultural strengths and values.
  • Co-create with other leaders: The work must be led by top management and actively embraced throughout the organization. Select a small, diverse group of present and future leaders. Share insights. Enlist them to create the future that they believe in and motivate them as advocates. Have business units and functions define their role to bring brand purpose to life.
  • Act on your brand purpose. Don’t just talk about it. Build business, product development, ESG, Marketing and HR strategies around it. Respond to adverse events and take a stand on the most relevant social issues for your business to demonstrate your brand purpose in action.
  • Commit to a consistent strategy. Build KPIs. Continually measure progress, remain agile, and take fast corrective actions to achieve goals. Make leaders accountable.


The result – an authentic brand that drives growth.


Share your thoughts on this. And reach out to us to learn more.


You can hear a more in-depth discussion about how to create and activate brand purpose through employees with Sarah Colamarino and Nik Gharekhan, Managing Partner, Presciant in their conversation linked here.


Fortune 500 CEO Survey, May 2022

Edelman Trust Barometer, 2022

Enacting Purpose Initiative, August 2020

Purpose Is Everything, Deloitte, October 2019

Zeno Strength of Purpose Survey, 2020

Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research, 2018

2022 Global Marketing Trends, Deloitte 2022

Experience Is Everything: Here’s How To Get It Right, PWC, 2018

Global Reputation Tracker, 2022

The Future of Marketing, Purpose Matters, Charney and Kawles, March 2022

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