What is an employer brand, and how do you create one?
Most of us are acquainted with the basics of branding, at least the customer-facing variety. But how many of us have done much thinking about the employer brand. Adam Fridman has, and he delineates “3 Essentials to Crafting a Thriving Employer Brand,” in a recent article for Branding Strategy Insider.
Pointing to the power of customer experience to “snowball and reach millions over the course of a few hours,” he notes that “branding now requires attention from the inside out.”
A company’s employer brand must be as strong as its customer-facing brand. That is, its reputation as a place to work and its employee value proposition must be as carefully thought out and consistently executed as a brand targeted at customers.
A healthy employer brand is built on three essentials:
Simply put, purpose is not about the corporate mission statement, to which many employees pay scant attention “because it has nothing to do with the day to day operations of the organization.” Purpose, Mr. Fridman says is an intrinsic motivator that transcends profit. His example is Apple, whose purpose is to think different, to be all about being the best. Purpose drives inspiration, and inspiration is why employees do what they do, day in and day out.
If purpose is foundational to the employer brand, values build on purpose and provide a framework for the decisions that organization leadership—and by extension, employee—make. Values are not the same as business objectives, but they influence them and keep an organization moving in the right direction. For example, maximizing profit can be a company’s objective, but the underlying value could be “Yes, we want to be profitable but not at any cost.”
At the bottom of the pyramid, but by no means inconsequential, are habits. As Mr. Fridman puts it, “If a company’s mission statement isn’t authentic, true to its purpose, this is where the hypocrisy is exposed.” (I’m betting that every reader of this post can come up with an example here.)
So, what are habits? They’re the micro-actions that comprise daily operations, and they’re an essential target for the employer brand. Mr. Fridman comments that the micro-interventions used in positive psychology are a scalable way to establish and maintain an employer brand. Properly chosen, they can resonate across an entire work day, even though they take only minutes.
I’m from the era where people hired on, got a fast review of benefits (and maybe an employee handbook), and then plugged into their positions. Clearly, some companies were better than others to work for than others—and the word got around—but the concept of an employer brand didn’t seem to get that much thought. With the ubiquity of social media and the empowerment of the individual communicator, times have changed. Organizations would do well to make sure that their internal branding and employee perceptions of it are in sync. Because employees are, after all, customers, too.
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