I have helped many organizations cultivate their employer brands. There is no specific recipe for success but I possess a handful of beliefs that are the core that influences branding activities. Before I get to them let me clearly say that you do not want to indulge in regular self-promotion. Your credibility instantly takes a blow if there’s any hint of self-promotion. We’ve all been there where you read or watch something and you instantly roll your eyes… “pfft yeah whatever, that was a load of b.s.” Eventually if you continue tooting your horn so much nobody will believe anything you say or do, regardless of how great it really is.
Social media and the online world has drastically altered the importance of branding. Before the web was created conversations were basically one way. You had a messenger and a captivated audience who listened — television, radio and print ads, all aimed at telling an audience what they wanted them to hear, see and feel. Of course you still had word of mouth, but we all know how slowly word of mouth travelled before the internet was born. Fast forward to today and a single tweet can reach all 4 corners of the globe and reach million of people within seconds. Needless to say, every single move and activity that an organization undertakes has a significant impact on the perception of their employer brand, for good and for worse.
Another way of looking at this is called “information symmetery or asymmetry” (btw you should read To Sell is Human by Dan Pink). Simply put, the concept is the information balance between buyer and seller. Take the example of buying a car. During pre-internet times information between buyer and seller was imbalanced, or asymmetrical. Nowadays, most buyers know more about the products than the car salesperson. Why? The internet and the information that a buyer can access. This is an example of the shift that we have seen in all facets of business when it comes to information symmetry. The same concept goes for employer brand — job seekers have more information at their finger tips than ever before, and the insights they obtain before walking into an interview is incredible.
Just like anything in life we need balance. The same goes for employer brands — diversify activities so that we are being relevant to the target audience. Below are specific things that I believe strong employer brands do.
- Add Value – offer invaluable content to your audience. Draw them in with things that they can use to be more successful in their work. Your brand will be sought after for its expertise. Examples: The Muse, Ultimate Software, Lever, Netflix, Reddit and more.
- Focus on Education – highly connected to #1. People love to learn and are extremely favourable towards brands who take an education-first approach, versus a self-promotion approach.
- Engage – for social media enthusiasts, you know what the “push-pull” approach means. Not only do you push content out to your audience, you need to pull them in too. Pull activities is another way of saying engagement. You know… actually talk to people, share their content, comment on others’ content and posts, etc…
- Be Humble – Too much self promotion can be perceived as arrogant, cocky, pretentious, sleazy, salesy, etc…
- Align to Your Values – It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if you’re who you say you are. Most organizations publish their values on their website, or even post them on the walls in the office. Whatever you do, make sure your actions match your words — your behaviour online and offline to should match what you say you are trying to be. Misalignment can be catastrophic.
Branding is all about perception. What one perceives is reality because they feel it. What your audiences think of you is reality, so be sure to balance, and diversify, your marketing strategy. And for all you horn tooting, overly loud, me me me me types… dial it back a tad. You may even be surprised that saying less is actually doing more.