Re-branding or re-thinking?

Our new Director of People blogged last week about the relabeling of ‘HR’ to ‘People’. ‘HR’, rather like ‘Health & Safety’ does seem to carry some pretty unwelcome baggage these days. So, gradually, HR departments have been become ‘People’ departments.

Of course there’s much more to this than a re-labelling. It reveals a deeper cultural shift from the days of ‘Personnel’, who hired, fired, and made rules, to ‘Human Resources’, which to my mind always recalled the Hawthorne Experiments, to the more professionalized world of ‘People’ where the focus is on empowering and enabling.

Of course there’s been a similar rebranding in the research world where, fuelled by years of conference-inspired self-loathing, even the most unremarkable research practitioners have reinvented themselves as ‘Insight Managers’.

But whether our industry has really experienced the accompanying cultural shift is open to debate. Still there are Insight Managers who wouldn’t know an insight if it smacked them in the face. Maybe there are even Directors of People who don’t really like people very much.

In the end, as countless branding consultants will tell you, a brand is a promise. It’s who you are, it’s what you do, it’s the experience you deliver to your consumers. If our industry spent half as much time worrying about this as we did worrying about what to put on our business cards, we’d be dangerous.



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