Why Talent Brand Is a CMO’s Business

June 9, 2016

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity takes places June 18-25 in Cannes, France. The festival, which bestows the venerable Cannes Lions awards on deserving copywriters and designers and directors, is a celebration of creative and innovative talent in business, particularly in advertising and marketing.

Increasingly, businesses are realizing that they need more than a smart strategy to survive; they also need smart people. They need talent — creative and otherwise —to make that strategy a reality. The goals of attracting and keeping talent are why Silicon Valley corporations have billiard tables, free lunches, generous stock packages, and unlimited vacation.

The concept of “talent brand” — what employees and potential new hires say about your company when you're not in the room — is rising in prominence. Companies with strong talent brands spend 43 percent less per hire and lead to 2.5 times more applicants to job posts on LinkedIn, according to this blog post. Critical aspects of talent brand are employee value proposition; company culture; people (current employees, customers, alumni); and candidate experience. Talent brand is a concept and a metric that CMOs should be playing close attention to.

Some of the world’s most recognizable brands are using their marketing to attract talent. General Electric, which is battling Silicon Valley for computer programming talent, launched its “What’s the Matter with Owen?” ad campaign last year, which uses the tagline, “The digital company. That’s also an industrial company.” The spots feature a software developer, Owen, who goes to work for GE, puzzling his friends and family. Owen explains, “Yes, GE makes powerful machines, but I’ll be writing the code that will allow those machines to share information with each other.” The ad closes with a line that speaks directly to the talent pool: “Get yourself a world-changing job.” 

Owen and "The Hammer"

Risk and HR solutions company Aon is another corporate giant that has spent big chunks of budget on talent brand. In this case, Aon invested in sponsoring the Manchester United soccer club. The sponsorship helped boost Aon’s brand awareness from 39 percent to 56 percent between 2005 and 2015. But perhaps more importantly, the sponsorship helped unite the employees of Aon, which is in 120 countries. “We have grown through (more than) 400 acquisitions over the last two decades,” Aon Global CMO Phil Clement told Crain’s Chicago Business, “and we were looking for a platform that would unify the firm, create a common message around the firm, actually unite the firm. Aon United has been our theme around it.”

But this concept of talent brand and marketing to employees and potential new hires isn’t limited to giant corporations. Marketers at companies of all sizes and kinds are embracing the talent brand concept. “This is a hot topic,” said Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group. “I have been using this line that ‘HR is the new marketing.’ The thinking goes like this: Happy customers are created by happy and engaged employees. Brands are realizing that their communications are more effective, more authentic, and more engaging when they come from employees instead of coming from ‘the brand.’ This extends beyond ‘marketing’ and into the ideal state of employees sharing stories about what a great place to work their company is.”

Software company MongoDB is boosting its talent brand with support of CMO Meagen Eisenberg and the marketing team in partnership with the company’s HR staff. “We believe one of the best ways to build a talent brand is through our talent and their stories,” Eisenberg said. “Nothing speaks louder about a company’s culture and why it is a great place to work better than the people who work there.”

In addition to encouraging employees to post on sites such as Glassdoor and promoting employee accomplishments internally and externally, MongoDB has created a Twitter handle @MongoDBCareers to communicate with potential employees. Below is a typical Tweet from the handle.

Nick Panayi, Head of Global Brand & Digital Marketing for CSC, is another believer in the power of talent brand. “To me ‘talent brand’ is relevant for the new talent you are trying to attract but critical for the talent you are trying to keep,” he said. “It’s a transparent and genuine set of beliefs and emotions that talent has about your brand. The pre-requisite, of course, is that you have a company that truly cares for and nurtures good talent. Assuming you have that, and once you have a truly authentic ‘talent brand’ then you want to package it up and get it out to the marketplace as unspoiled and untouched as possible.” 

It’s clear that talent brand is only going to become more critical. And it’s critical that CMOs and the marketing team get involved in amplifying their strong talent brand in the marketplace.

The LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog will have a team on the ground at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and we'll be covering the concept of talent brand, the future of marketing, and other topics at the event. To make sure you don't miss any of our exclusive coverage, subscribe to the blog today!

Photo: Stefan Jurca