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Key takeaways:

  • The privacy space is complex, so how you articulate and communicate definitions and concepts is important to good branding.
  • When possible, try shifting the focus away from legal jargon and acronyms and instead focusing on presenting privacy at a conceptual level.
  • It’s imperative that you and your team speak with a unified voice — you need a consistent message to avoid confusion.

The effectiveness of an enterprise data privacy program is contingent upon cross-department cooperation, support, and effective communication — all of which require good branding.

But educating other departments on what your privacy team does and why it’s so important can be challenging. After all, the global privacy space is rapidly evolving.

When it comes to branding a complex corporate function like privacy, words — even semantics — matter. In order to truly gain enterprise-wide understanding, data privacy leaders need to consider how they take terminology into account when discussing their programs.

During a recent Data Privacy Board panel discussion on internal branding, two senior-level privacy leaders shared their best practices for getting branding right.

Here’s what Sarah Stalnecker, Global Director of Data Privacy at New Balance Athletics, and JoAnne Breese-Jaeck, Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer at Northwestern Mutual, had to say about articulating privacy concepts.

Steer Clear of Legal Jargon and Acronyms

The privacy space is filled with acronyms: CCPA, CPRA, GDPR, and the list goes on. Sarah advised other leaders to steer away from the acronyms and legal jargon when possible unless they have time to truly explain what they mean.

It’s easy to get lost in the details when you lead with legal. So, instead, aim to communicate digestible information that provides each employee with the level of knowledge required by their role at that time.

“There are so many different things that different groups need to understand … trying to stay at a conceptual level with folks, I think, has been the best way to be successful.”

Sarah Stalnecker, New Balance Athletics

Additionally, she said it’s helpful to encourage other business leaders to avoid jargon in their space to promote better cross-department communication and understanding.

“That’s the two-way street that we’ve been trying to push for, so there is a lot of transparency on exactly what we’re trying to do within the organization, and it doesn’t get bogged down on either side,” Sarah explained.

She also suggested focusing on the “why” because, at times, employees may view privacy as something that stifles innovation or progress — even if that belief isn’t exactly inaccurate.

“A lot of times there’s documentation requirements that seem like blockers, frankly, to the business. So what we’re trying to explain is the way,” Sarah said.

Demonstrating to employees why certain policies are essential to mitigating risk, protecting consumers, and avoiding litigation, will not only help them understand privacy concepts but can enable them to see the inherent value in your program.

Speak with a Unified Voice

At Northwestern Mutual, JoAnne said she’s definitely seeing the value in ensuring her team speaks with a clear unified voice, and that includes the terms and definitions they use.

Concepts like transparency, consumer choice, or data subject type can mean different things to different individuals, and JoAnne said a number of conversations go sideways as a result. She said consistency in how you articulate concepts and terms is essential to enterprise understanding.

“I have 12 people on the team; let’s talk with a unified voice, and let’s have a consistent message to people so it’s understandable and then it’s repeated.”

JoAnne Breese-Jaeck, Northwestern Mutual

Internal Branding is a Long Journey

Effectively branding your privacy program doesn’t happen overnight, and how you develop your messaging is just one piece of the puzzle.

Data Privacy Board Members JoAnne and Sarah shared more of their experiences in internal branding during the leadership panel, including how to bolster education, manage expectations, and position privacy as an asset.

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