Creating a brand that employees or prospective employees believe in
For a business to be successful (in nearly all cases) it has to be recognised. Its brand is more than its name, its logo, its website, or its advertising. Yes, a brand is recognisable by these assets but its essence is encapsulated by the perception it creates in the eyes of its audience. That includes its customers, its competitors and its employees.
So where do you start if you want to attract and retain staff via your Brand Essence. Well, first you need to answer some of the following questions:
Question 1: What do we stand for as a brand and what are our values? Is our employer brand in tune with our customer brand values?
Question 2: How are we different from our competitors as an employer? What makes us unique for the people that work here and do we communicate the above both internally and externally?
Question 3: Do we have an advertising, marketing and PR strategy around recruitment that supports and enhances our ‘Employer Brand’ position?
Question 4: When we recruit do we utilise a value based recruitment process and do we stick to it?
Question 5: Do we review the brand perception regularly, both internally and externally, to ensure that we are consistently emanating the right Employer Brand message?
We will take a look at all these questions in the coming weeks in our series entitled ‘Creating a Brand That People Believe In’.
Today we will be looking at question 1:
What do we stand for as a brand and what are our values? Is our employer brand in tune with our customer brand values?
As business owners and managers we can feel pretty confident about what we think our brand stands for and what our brand values are, but this is usually only in terms of our outward facing customer brand. However, if your staff are going to believe in your brand and advocate it, they need to feel that you live your brand values throughout the business. So how do you do that?
We recommend that you document your Brand Values and then create your own internal Core Values that are fully aligned to, and that support those brand values. Your Core Values should become part of the DNA of your business. Staff assessments and reviews should be linked to them, and rewards and accolades should be attributed to star performers. Display the brand and core values everywhere you can; ideally in a staff handbook, on your website and around the business. But a few words of caution – make them real, don’t make them up. Workshops with key stakeholders in the business can be a great way to find out from them what they think the core values of the business really are, and you might be surprised! Whatever the result, for a brand to be really successful, the employer brand has to be in tune with the customer brand. If these two elements are not aligned there will be a total disconnect between what you say you do and what you actually do!
The top brands in the world talk up their brand, but more important than this – in most cases the staff believe in the company that they work for, what it stands for and on a personal level feel proud to be a part of that brand’s journey. To illustrate the point, we interviewed a number of brand specialists to get their thoughts. We asked them all one simple question:
“What three things are most important when looking to create or develop an agency brand that people trust?”
Andy Dougan, Brand Director at G2 says:
1. Seek to banish all physical signs of an agency hierarchy. The agency model is changing rapidly and it requires not only to be populated with multi-faceted people but also with people who have no ego’s, no expectations about what they should/shouldn’t have to do etc and are happy to work/mix with anyone, anytime.
2. Be completely and utterly transparent - on everything. Too many agencies work on a ‘need to know’ basis. This creates uncertainty, nervousness, an us vs. them silo mentality and a general lack of ownership & belonging.
3. Be a very social agency - most of us came into the agency world because we get a buzz from the creative challenges AND because we want to have fun/enjoy ourselves creating great work. I often look at individuals in agencies who seem to be far too serious, frown upon socialising during the day, hate loud music and dress like they have an interview with Barclays and wonder if they simply forgot to get off the tube at Canon Street.
Andy Annett , MD of Ink Ltd and former CEO of Woo Communications says:
1. Make sure that your team/staff believe it. Ultimately your internal team are going to deliver on the brand promise or the brand experience. If they don’t know about the brand and believe in it, it will never be delivered effectively or trusted by the audience
2. Make sure your team/staff live it….always. Again, there is no point in your team believing in the brand promise, if they don’t live it and deliver it in every interaction with the audience. If the audience sees one thing (the promise) and experiences another (non delivery) then that is the surest way to lose trust
3. Make sure the brand promise is credible and relevant to your audience. Often brands are developed with an internal focus with lip service paid to the target that they are trying to impress or influence. A brand will never be trusted if it is myopic and doesn’t answer a genuine need of the audience.
Jonnie Jenson, MD of To Be Social says:
The biggest testimony for any employer is a passionate employee. It’s all very well to have a great office and fabulous package of benefits but when someone has an almost ‘odd’ over enthusiasm and loyalty for their work then it says something special about the company.
1. Communication – everyone is listened to and knowledge is shared
2. Integrity – the company behaves in manner consistent with their products and services and recognises and fulfils on their promises to customers and employees
3. Empowerment shared goals and celebrated success – opportunities to make decisions are available to each and every member of the team. This leads to a shared commitment from all levels. Success is shared in the organisation then everyone feels valued and their hard work rewarded.
Creating a strong employer brand will save you money, management time and drive longevity of staff retention – good luck!
Don’t forget to follow our ‘Creating a Brand That People Believe In’series