Building your brand from the inside out
After a decade of working in employer branding and evangelizing why our work is important to marketing, communications, the C-suite, and even HR, I’m thrilled to say the time has finally come: the conversation around investing in developing a strong employer brand has shifted from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘business imperative.’
Not only are we in the trenches of a war for talent, but there’s also an understanding that the best brands are delivered from the inside out. This means that you need to hire and retain the right people, who are also engaged in your business, in order to deliver on your brand promise.
We often think that a product’s success comes down to differentiation, also called the unique selling proposition (USP). But here’s the thing – USPs today are basically hygiene factors. This is because most organizations target the same customers as their competitors, which results in a very similar customer value proposition and similar products and services. So, what creates true differentiation?
In today’s world, the lines between product and experience are becoming increasingly blurred. As a result, customer experiences can be leveraged to achieve differentiation. These experiences are directly or indirectly provided by your employees, the people who represent and shape your brand. The facts speak for themselves: improving customer experience from average can increase revenues 30-50%.
The challenge lies in that most product and marketing strategies are developed in a board room, without consultation or alignment with HR or the people agenda. This creates a gap in business aspiration vs. reality. And if that gap is not bridged quickly, there’s a risk of brands not delivering on their promise.
This might be the point where you think, ‘our marketing strategy is baked’ or ‘marketing won’t let us be part of those conversations.’ And, while I appreciate that can often be the case, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a defeat.
As you look to build or refresh your employer brand to align with your changing business, I invite you to think beyond this being an HR initiative. Your employer brand is the articulation of the brand promise to both the people you employ as well as the ones you want to. It’s the give, or what the organization has to offer, and what each individual employee gets in return. The EVP is built upon many of the things that make your organization unique, such as behaviors, values and guiding principles, to ensure the right people are able to fulfil the brand promise.
As you enter planning mode for 2019, I encourage you not to be hyper-focused on the latest technology or innovations that can take over your whole budget (and not necessarily deliver ROI). Instead, think about developing a strategic proposition that links the people agenda to the corporate agenda, a robust EVP. If you get the foundations right, you’re in a much better place to market yourself to the right people, engage your current workforce and ultimately drive business performance.