Candidates today want more than a job that fits their skills and decent salary. They want a job that fits their goals, values and vision for their lives. Millennials, set to dominate the workforce by 2025, are particularly interested in the opportunity to make a difference and forge meaningful work relationships according to Forbes, while nearly 80% will look for “people and culture fit first, followed by career potential” according to Glassdoor.
It goes even further according to people and culture experts ThinkChangeGrow. “A company cannot thrive without its people and culture” assert co-founders Hiam Sakakini and Monika Gisler. “People are every organisation’s most valuable asset and the key to success for every business, big or small. No matter how great your product, or how innovative your idea, without an inclusive culture, collaborative teams and highly self-aware leaders and managers, your business is unlikely to succeed in the long run.”
Culture has become a competitive advantage and, similar to marketing a product, organisations (and their leaders) need to be able to market themselves effectively and authentically.
Most organisations grasp the importance of a brand strategy to promote products and services. Increasingly, however, there is an awareness of the role branding plays in successfully positioning oneself as an employer of choice. The term “employer brand” was first defined in the mid-1990s, denoting an organisation’s reputation as an employer as opposed to its more general corporate brand reputation. Times have changed, with the world more connected and transparent than ever before. As Harvard Business Reviewreports, employer branding is becoming strategically more important as we head towards 2020 and is now inextricably intertwined with consumer brand strategies.
So… what is a brand anyway?
More than just your name and logo! Your brand represents your identity – who you are, what you do, the values you stand for – and is the connection between who you are and who people think and feel you are.
A strong brand is built over time, communicating your value consistently over and over again until repetition becomes recognition, and recognition becomes reputation. It is part of every single activity and customer touchpoint. It is your promise – and it must be believable. It will influence people’s decisions to work in your organisation, to buy from or to partner with you.
3 steps you can take today in developing your brand:
- Know your purpose
- Define your organisation’s core values
- Understand the value exchange
The role of strong leaders in driving a strong brand
Once you have specified the key elements of your brand, the task at hand becomes how you manifest them in a real-world setting. For example, the colours you use, your tone of voice and language, the messages you put out, the actions you take. The best way to approach this is to consider how you want people to feel after dealing with you. Will you have had the impact you desired or left the impression you intended to make?
As the well-known proverb goes “a fish rots from the head”, typically laying all responsibility for an organisation’s ill fortune at the feet of its executive leadership. For example, if your culture is unhealthy or broken the argument is that only effective leadership can fix it. To keep the fish from rotting, the head has to be self-aware and savvy enough to look at what it’s doing (or not doing) and take remedial action.
Your brand will offer powerful scaffolding, but to effectively drive it through your organisation, leaders need to step up and lead from the front. Your team, current and prospective, will be looking to you to model the values you claim your organisation espouses. This affords leaders a huge opportunity to mobilise and inspire their workforce, creating positive workplace cultures that power growth. For Robbert Rietbroek, former PepsiCo General Manager Australia now GM of Quaker Foods in the US, this meant asking “leaders to leave loudly”in order to champion the company’s family-friendly flexible work polices – “because if it’s okay for the boss, then it’s okay for middle management and new hires.”
Congratulations! You’ve successfully attracted the right talent, but the game is still afoot. Your brand must align with your organisational culture but also with employee experience. There will be an expectation to deliver on it beyond the recruitment stage, and a golden opportunity to turn new recruits into delighted and engaged contributors who ultimately become advocates and referrers.
Sonja van den Bosch, Twinlife’s Founder and Managing Director, says “marketing can create energy and focus to lead your business and team in the direction you want to head. Don’t underestimate the value of your staff, they can be your best brand advocates. If they’re enthusiastic about working for your organisation, this will come through in their productivity and engagement, but also through all the incidental interactions with people outside of the workplace, championing your cause far and wide.”
Revere your employees as you would a VIP customer:
- Sell the benefits
- Engage on the basis of values-alignment not just skills and expertise
- Understand what’s important to them, then craft messages that will resonate
- Nail your onboarding program to welcome them
- Create effective internal communication that reflect your culture and values
- Recognise, reward and appreciate
- Survey for satisfaction
- Develop and invest in them
If long-term growth and prosperity is your destination, then building a strong brand and employing effective marketing techniques to attract – and retain – the right people is the express train that will get you there.
This article was originally published in full on the ThinkChangeGrow blog. Read the full article here. ThinkChangeGrow is on a mission to bring positive change to workplaces across the globe and we had the pleasure of working with them on their marketing strategy earlier this year.
Tags: branding, business growth, culture, leadership, marketing, purpose