Why Building a Talent Brand Is of Critical Strategic Importance
Strong Talent Brand Requires the Right Behavior and the Right Marketing
June 21, 2016
This guest post was contributed by Marie-Claire Barker, Chief Talent Officer, Global, at MEC. This post is part of our coverage of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which takes place June 18-25. Our coverage will focus on the themes of Talent Brand and the Future of Marketing.
You certainly don’t need to be reminded about the importance of marketing and brand building; it’s what you do. However, when was the last time you stopped to think what your organization stands for? What are the brand messages being sent out to current and new employees? With the flurry of activity focusing on talent retention and acquisition, and as companies struggle to differentiate, building an attractive employee brand should be of critical strategic importance, and one not just left to your HR team.
As industries are clambering for the best talent, and trying their best to set themselves apart, the words “authenticity and trust” are the two most important ones in building your brand as an employer. But isn’t authenticity the most overused word in marketing and communications? It is if your authenticity stretches as far as the words you use in your messaging and social outreach. One thing to bear in mind is that you no longer own the words associated with your brand. Social media and user-generated content has taken that control away from you. Authenticity in your brand as an employer must come from the actions and behaviours of the people who chose to work for you.
Think about it: brand reputation can be lost in a moment, from Tiger Woods reversing into a tree and seeing his reputation unravel to The New York Times last year reporting that Amazon employees had stated it was a “’brutal work environment” to say the least. True or not, these examples show how easily a reputation can be lost, if there is not authenticity and trust at the core and in how people behave.
An employer brand, or talent brand, should set its sights on two core things: 1) the attraction of great talent, having a strong external voice, and 2) the commitment of current employees, derived from quality leadership, the internal community and the environment allowing people to do their best work — consistently.
My advice for ensuring a strong employer brand:
- Don’t just leave it to the HR team. Getting the brand messaging right takes partnership and a collective perspective on culture from top leadership, marketing and HR.
- Be clear on what the culture is that you are trying to demonstrate. Don’t overpromise on things you cannot deliver. For example, don’t say you are a family friendly organization if parental leave does not form part of your benefit programme.
- Get your employees aligned and advocating on your behalf. Let’s face it, they are all on social media: what are they saying about you?
- Take a regular pulse check on the organization to assess levels of engagement. This can be done as simply as sending out a short Survey Monkey every quarter.
- Understand what the talent you need wants from an organisation, and make sure your brand promise is appealing to them, and not just the folks making the decisions.
- You must have the right leadership in place —your brand as an employer will be compromised if your leaders do not live up to the behaviours you value.
- Remember, your employer brand is not only a marketing strategy and a positioning, it is also who you are and how each of your employees represents you.
- Stand out, dare to be different, demonstrate innovation in your talent practices. People are attracted to the possibility of creating great work and thriving in a fun environment.
- Think about experience. Employees now will compare one company against another in terms of the experience they will gain. Your promise can no longer just stand up on the traditional career path model.
Overall, remember, be true to what you stand for, and hire people who align to that vision. That’s how you build a strong corporate brand.
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