We are discussing here at length branding issues:
How to communicate to a targeted clientele, how employees are the best brand’s ambassadors, as well as the complications to avoid at all costs.
At the end of the day, a brand is not necessarily how the marketing department defines it, but how the final customer understands it.
It goes down to perception; regardless of how well designed a brand communication is, or how well a new campaign is organized, the final decision belongs to the customer:
Did they pay attention to it? Did they like it, hated it or ignored it?
In other words, were they attracted to it?
As discussed before, brands' first customers are the company’s employees.
The same applies to be recognized as a ‘preferred employer’.
Any company will tell you that they want to attract and retain the best talents.
Therefore, they need to attract them.
To do so, they need to brand themselves as ‘best employers’.
To get this envied title, firms need to look in detail at their internal (towards their workforce) and external (directed to targeted clientele) branding.
Being labelled as best employer is more than another award to add to a collection; it is a powerful competitive advantage:
According to a 2016 Gallup study, sales increase by 20% when companies pick up top candidates.
How does it work?
Brand is the first thing that comes to mind when employees think about a company.
Even in this challenging economic environment, best talents know that they are first in line to get a job; hence, they can afford to be picky.
Therefore, before accepting a job offer, they look at the brand of the potential company and see if their communication addresses positively questions such as:
Is the hiring firm innovator in their field? Do they have an aggressive development strategy that will allow me (the candidate) to grow and develop? Is the working environment great? Will it enhance my personal branding? Are the benefits good?
Of course, during the recruitment process, the recruiter will paint a positive image of its company.
In this day and age, no one needs to take the words of a company’s officer for granted:
Branding is now more than color codes, storytelling and a great logo.
A wise candidate will challenge every company’s statement against branding perceptions as expressed in social medias by customers and employees.
Only then will they know if the brand perception addresses their own ‘best employer’ criteria.
Branding success is not only about creating an image.
It is to see how well that image performs against ‘real world’ wear and tear!
Best talents are very much like customers:
They know they have options – why should they join an under-performing company? If they got hired, why should they stay with a firm that doesn’t deliver up to its promises?
Hiring and retaining best talents is a serious business that requires a lot from a company from pre-recruitment throughout all the steps of the associate’s life cycle.
Employees are a brand best – or worst – ambassadors.
If they believe in the company’s brand, they will spread the word and top talents will eventually hear about it and will do whatever it takes to join.
On the other hand, if they don’t believe in their brand, the will also spread the word and every recruitment campaign will turn into a nightmare for lack of good candidates.
To ensure that the company’s brand is seen positively internally and externally, firms need to develop an attractive Employee Value Proposition (EVP).
To summarize, an Employee Value Proposition is the unique set of benefits which an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities and experience they bring to a company.
An EVP is about defining the essence of the company - how it is unique and what it stands for.
(Read more in detail about EVP here)
EVP can take many forms and shapes.
Let’s look at the most common proposals picked from few of the world’s most successful corporations:
Own your career
Career development is a personal journey that starts with your enthusiasm and desire to learn about the possibilities. No one knows your career goals and aspirations — or how best to meet them — better than you. Only you can own your career, and it’s up to you to take an active role in your development. So, when you’re ready, take the first step. Talk to your leader about where you want to go, and how you need to grow.
Unleash your potential
We believe you have many special talents to share. Growing a career with us means you’ll have the opportunities you need to realize your potential and meet your goals, whatever they may be. Whether you’re a sales associate, a supervisor or a manager, we’ll help you unleash your potential, so you can help others unleash theirs.
We’re partners in your success
We believe career development is a partnership between you, your leader and your organization. As your partners in the process, we’re committed to helping you grow your career by giving you the tools, resources and support you need to realize your potential and meet your goals, whatever they may be.
Your responsibility is to take the necessary steps to move forward by learning about the world of possibilities around you.
Our future depends on you
Today we’re at a crossroads. The world of business is changing dramatically. Our ability to respond to new challenges depends on how well we develop the core of our business. With this in mind, we are committed to a culture of development. We’re working harder than ever to improve the way we grow careers.
We want to develop our brand with you
Branding starts by expressing our organization’s commitment and purpose. Building a development brand is inextricably linked to our business, so the entire company needs to be on board with the message. It demands involvement from three critical stakeholder groups: senior leaders, managers at every level and, more importantly, you.
These companies spell it out in various manners, but it all goes down to one conclusion:
EVP is the only way to attract and retain best talents who are the roots and cause of company’s long-term success.
Therefore, firms must place the Employee Value Proposition scheme at the heart of their business strategy, and provide resources and organization to support it.
On the other hand, managers are a very sensitive link to the success of a brand and EVP.
They are the face of the organization to their employees and customers.
They have the power to enhance a brand.
Or to kill it.
I recently had a long conversation with a manager whose position is crucial to the success of his company.
During this exchange, he revealed a strong negative attitude, refusing to implement an EVP program aimed at improving associates’ revenue and long-term development.
He didn’t have any valid argument to sustain his position, refusing to look at the future and strongly remaining in the past.
Why such a negative attitude?
By embracing the new scheme, he would be forced to leave his (denial) comfort zone and be constrained to be an active agent of change.
Unfortunately, this stance is common to too many managers of that company – even at the highest level.
It means that despite all efforts made to improve the brand and its communication, this firm’s management is actively working hard to ensure that it’ll fail (certainly without realizing it) – shooting at the same time their own feet; go figure!
An Employee Value Proposition is very important to a company’s long-term success, to be labelled as ‘preferred employer’, and therefore attract and retain the best talents.
Unfortunately, the best plan in the world is not enough; it is subject to the good will and support of the firm’s top management in the long run – success does not happen overnight -, and of course middle management active back-up and dynamic implementation.
The above example shows that it is a real challenge as it forces all (associates included!) to move from a usually complaining and whining comfort zone to a more challenging and positive mindset:
It is so much easier and ego-rewarding to complain and block change processes than work hard and build!