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Businesses have discovered the truth about branding: It has ramifications far beyond attracting consumers. In fact, developing a strong brand can help woo and retain talent looking for the perfect work-life culture fit.
Automation company Siemens presents an excellent real-world example of this type of branding in action. Instead of leaning on its impressive legacy to grab great new hires, the organization hired an employer branding expert to join the C-suite. Her many responsibilities include ramping up Siemens’ relevance — not just for buyers, but also for job browsers. Ultimately, Siemens is reinventing its personality to appeal to up-and-comers who aren’t impressed by just heritage or global recognition.
Welcome to the age of talent-driven branding.
Hitting the ‘Refresh’ Button
Modern career hunters are less concerned with company name recognition than they are with value alignment. They want to invest time and energy in business environments that dovetail with their personal beliefs and professional goals. In other words, they want their employers of choice to operate, inside and out, like Patagonia.
Long known as a place where working hard, playing hard, and stewarding natural resources are key beliefs, Patagonia’s external brand matches what happens internally. As a result, the organization’s corporate turnover stands at an enviable 4 percent, compared to 15.6 percent for the retail industry overall.
Most employers are nowhere near being as balanced as Patagonia. A joint KRC Research and Weber Shandwick study found that only 21 percent of American workers strongly agreed that the their company’s public image aligned with what employees experience. That disconnect drives people out the door — if they decide to enter it in the first place.
Getting Branding Right
Are you losing the branding battle to competitors who are snatching up the best job candidates? Try revamping your employer brand, starting with these four strategies:
1. Offer experiential interviewing.
Talk, talk, and more talk: Most interviews are filled with it. But is it really a good indicator of how an interviewee can perform? Probably not. A better method of testing the waters is to turn the interview into a real-life chance for applicants to experience your brand in action: Engage prospective new hires with your current team members using a practice assignment.
The Wintrip Group, a consulting firm, designed this type of real-world role playing for one of its clients, developing a challenging scenario to see what interviewees would do. Not only did an initially unpopular candidate prove her mettle in this atmosphere, but she was also offered the position that day.
As you design your upcoming interviews, include experiential and participatory aspects. Have candidates answer a staged customer call or give them a task to perform on the spot. Let them show — not tell — you what they can do.
2. Treat job candidates and employees as guests.
Technology is an increasingly critical component of the candidate experience, from social recruiting to video interviewing to gamified onboarding. But don’t forget the importance of technology’s physical presence in wooing candidates and delighting employees. Things like welcoming lobby fixtures, reminiscent of a hotel or museum, signal that your company is unique, inviting, and engaging. Best of all, it indicates your team hasn’t forgotten about the experience it provides.
Scott Schoeneberger, managing partner at experiential marketing agency Bluewater, has seen the value in integrating media into architectural structures and forms. “The lobby in your office plays an interesting role. It’s both the first thing visitors see and the last thing they will experience when visiting,” he explains. “It can set the tone for the experience that day, and it can provide a final touchpoint in creating lasting brand awareness when your visitors leave.”
Your company may be able to integrate media and technology into your physical spaces to send a welcoming message to employees and recruits. Consider telling your brand’s story with an interactive timeline or personalizing your signage with guests’ names or recent employee achievements. Regenerative motion visuals can even use company data to create compelling digital artwork for your visitors to enjoy.
3. Pour resources into personnel and personal development.
If you want to put your money where your brand’s mouth is, don’t skimp on employee development. Job seekers look for training opportunities that show you care about their growth. Remember that your best players may not come to you with all their skill sets solidified; if you invest in their growth, you have a better chance of earning their loyalty and doing what your competition can’t.
American Express’ chief diversity officer, Sonia Cargan, has raised the branding bar at her company by offering mid-level multicultural female employees the chance to advance their careers by going through the Transformational Leadership program. The program uses mixed-media and virtual training to professionally enrich and embolden females across the middle ranks of the corporation. This program aligns with American Express’ professed values of inclusivity and gender equality.
Dig deeply into your own organization’s core beliefs. You may just find springboards for training and development coursework — maybe even certifications that fill gaps and engage workers.
4. Make use of internal storytellers.
Who could be better advocates for your company brand than satisfied employees? Identify your strongest internal fans, and work with them to add a much-needed drop of humanity and personality to your corporate brand. You may find they provide a more irresistible draw for potential candidates than any perk could.
The Heineken Company, for instance, has propelled employee-driven branding with its Go Places campaign. Story after story of Heineken workers’ lives keeps content fresh and the company’s brand story alive in localized detail. It’s a mix of authenticity and behind-the-curtain advocacy that works well to breathe excitement into the Heineken name.
To generate the same level of authenticity — but with a more reasonable time frame and budget — simply add employee posts to your current content calendar. Consider featuring your employees’ stories on your corporate blog, and invite them to do day-in-the-life account takeovers on social media.
You may have assumed your branding was rock-solid. Chances are good that it needs a bit of tweaking to meet modern working-world expectations, whether or not you’re ready to hire someone to manage your employer branding. Consider it a worthwhile challenge to align and refine your branding in an effort to grab attention from all sides, including from exceptional workers open to a change of pace.
March 8, 2019 at 05:10AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs