U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips believes Democrats in Congress have a messaging problem.

Despite passing several major bills over the past two years and having a "remarkably diverse" caucus, "most Americans don't know who we are," Phillips said. The Minnesota Democrat will have a chance to change that after being elected a co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee on Thursday. The caucus leadership post will give him an influential say in House Democrats' messaging and branding.

"Democrats create very impressive legislative product, but we don't package it very well," said Phillips, a businessman who once led his family's Phillips Distilling Co. and helped launch the successful Talenti gelato brand. "I often say that Republicans talk in headlines and Democrats talk in small print. And my mission in this new role is to elevate our messaging so that we, too, communicate in headlines that are impactful, easy to understand and move the needle."

Phillips has built a moderate and congenial reputation in Congress over the past four years and intends to continue that approach in his new leadership role. But his optimistic style will be tested by a reshaped political dynamic in the House. Republicans won narrow control of the chamber in November, putting Phillips in the minority for the first time in his congressional career.

For his part, Phillips said he will be "focused on communicating through invitation, not condemnation." He campaigned for the committee spot with a "Let's Grow" slogan, which he emphasized by delivering tiny succulent plants to the offices of every House Democrat.

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse was elected chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, while Phillips, Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar and Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood were picked to be the committee's three co-chairs.

Phillips' selection gives Minnesotans a voice at House Democrats' leadership table. The state will have a higher-profile influence on the other side of the aisle with Republican Rep. Tom Emmer recently being elected House majority whip, the third highest-ranking GOP position in the chamber.

"I'm glad that, on both sides of the aisle, we will have a member of the Minnesota delegation in our leadership ranks," Phillips said.

The Democrat said he will encourage colleagues to get behind a centrist message that resonates with independent voters. He believes a "quiet majority" of Americans identify as slightly left or right of the political center.

Even though he will soon be in the political minority, Phillips said he is excited about the direction of his party and the new leaders stepping up within it. He praised new House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who's succeeding Nancy Pelosi, as "one of the best listeners I've ever encountered."

"I am excited about the new generation, which I've long been advocating for since I joined Congress," Phillips said. "And this is the beginning of I think a wonderful new chapter for our Congress."