Monthly Archives: December 2009

Happy Holidays

What Would Your CEO Say?


Branding, just as any other strategic endeavor, is about bottom line business results.
A brand makes attracting new customers and holding onto current customers cheaper.

Employer Branding does the same thing. It makes attracting talent cheaper and inspires turnover-cutting loyalty. Suddenly HR looks like a moneymaker.

So what would your CEO say to that?
“Why does our company need more than one brand?”

The answer, of course, is that you don’t.

The finer points of how the brand is communicated obviously differs from consumers to employees, as do the specific value propositions, but the core of the brand does not. It’s the still the same personality, the same voice, the same values.

HR is merely one of many stakeholders in an organization’s overall brand. It’s their role to communicate the brand in a compelling way to current and potential employees. Similarly, the CFO’s role as a brand stakeholder is to communicate the brand to the financial community. Marketing communicates the brand to consumers. PR communicates the brand to the media. But you never hear terms like “financial brand,” or “PR brand.”

Does HR really need its own term for this responsibility? I can deal with it if you can, so long as we don’t lose sight of the fact that it refers back to the same brand that everyone else in the company is talking about.

If everyone is striving for profitability then having just one brand is only natural. Just ask Phil Knight or Steve Jobs. Nike and Apple, two of the most desirable places to work, don’t do “employer branding.” They don’t have to. Their brands are so well integrated throughout every department that employees and consumers alike are attracted magnetically.

Whether you call it employer branding, employment branding, or just plain branding, your CEO still only wants to know how it can save money or make money for the company.

For more perspective, call BRANDEMiX.

Who Wants to Work For Tiger?

Recruiting through Disaster- 7 Ways to Improve Your Employer Brand.

Maybe your firm was recently rescued from the abyss by the US government. Perhaps your CEO was photographed having breakfast with Bernie Madoff. Or your boss, one of greatest sports figures who ever lived, the face of your brand, has been caught playing in cars and courses he doesn’t belong in.

As your best laid recruiting plans crumble, current employees might linger longer at interview lunches and critical openings go unfilled. The open EXIT door seems to beckon even you.

But don’t despair. Though your task may seem impossible, armed with a plan, you can assuage a publicity crisis and accomplish recruiting objectives with a bit of skill, planning and diligence.

Here are 7 things you do:

1. Be honest and authentic. The chances are, it was a lack of honesty in the first place that got your organization in the mess, so now it’s time to come clean. Be candid and transparent about your situation and you’ll have a good shot at earning back the trust with current and potential employees.

2. Hold town halls, focus groups and monitor web chatter. The conversation is happening around you so get in on it. Take two Advil and get a firm grasp of exactly what potential and current employees think of your company and see what the damage really is.

3. Dust off your employer value proposition. Get back to the basics of communicating your fundamental differentiator as an employer. Theoretically, your intrinsic value as an employer is still intact so take the focus away from ancillary distractions and drive home your core value proposition through recent actions and examples.

4. Fight the battle on your own turf. Ubiquitous social networks mean more opportunities for social humiliation. Armed with insight, mitigate the issue by providing details and counterpoint on your website or vanity landing page and post comments and links to drive traffic to that page.

5. Revisit your workforce plans. One positive to situations like this, is that it gives you carte blanche to rethink certain strategies or processes. Do you still want to hire the type of employees you did 2 months ago? This could be an opportunity to bring in new blood and grow in directions you never before considered.

6. Refresh all your online recruitment messaging. Last week’s job postings won’t help you through yesterday’s disaster. Build brand equity quickly and inexpensively with current messaging that show people you know what they’re thinking, and what you think about it. The opportunity for swift change is the beauty of our digital world.

7. Create and promote an employee recognition program. Recognize and publicize the talent you have, and show the world that human capital still remains your strongest asset. Featured professionals will appreciate the kudos and can become the face of your recruiting efforts, featured in blogs, videos and printed materials. Potential recruits will be reminded of the brain pool they have an opportunity to be part of.

While we can’t always plan for future disasters, a properly executed disaster recruiting “plan-in-the-can” when your Tiger tanks is as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.


Keep It Simple Stupid.

Believe it or not, branding is supposed to make things easier…for everyone.

“What has become the science of pontification was once the art of simplification.”

Remember that a brand is really just a shortcut. When we see a logo, we can make assumptions about the product that bares it. If you don’t know anything about aspect ratio or refresh rate you can just buy a Sony television because you know it will be quality. If you don’t want to spend your weekend comparing the price of Frosted Flakes at every grocer in town, you can just go to Wal-mart because you know they’ll have the lowest prices anyway.

Imagine a world with no brands and only products. You’d have to laboriously balance the pluses and minuses of every product for every purchase. You could have no preconceptions or expectations. You could make no assumptions. You’d have analysis paralysis every time you went to the deli.

Sadly, this is what job-hunting feels like a lot of times. You’re forced to form an opinion of a company based solely on the few tangible benefits listed in a job posting. A brand should replace this process of rationalizing and help create an emotional connection (or not) with the company and the culture.

However, too often employer branding is used as just another rational benefit – another “plus” on the old strengths vs weaknesses scale. Your employer brand is not just another reason to believe. It’s the reason to believe. It’s the higher order that supersedes all the rational benefits. So if you spent the time, money and effort to develop a brand, but continue to base all your communications around the same old rational benefits, then you’re spinning your wheels.

Google’s recruitment Youtube video says nothing of pay or benefits – it talks more about the cafeteria and the culture. This is with good reason – for many technical positions, Google pays less than Microsoft does, but Google is the heart’s desire for young engineers not Microsoft. Google has taken the side-by-side comparison out of the equation replaced it with brand.

Or, look at the recruitment ads for Southwest Airlines, one of the strongest employer brands. Absent are the bulleted lists of good reasons to join the company or an “about us” paragraph touting the company’s prestigious history. Instead they seduce you with brand identity.

You’re brand should take the guesswork out of joining your company. It should let people put away the scale and listen to their gut. Just as shopping for clothes is as much emotional as it is rational, so too is shopping for a job. So allow your brand to pull its weight. Allow it to make things easier for jobseekers. Allow it to simplify your communications. Allow it to simplify your recruiting strategy. And if you don’t have a brand, call BRANDEMiX.

Going Global With Marylou Ponzi Kay of Benetton USA

HR Directors Work Hard to Create Global Companies

Marylou Ponzi Kay, Human Resources Director for Benetton USA, has her hands full. Literally.

As you can see, she’s holding the Employer Branding Workbook from BRANDEMiX‘s recent SHRM workshop on Employer Branding.

In the room with Ponzi Kay during the HR Connections gathering, which is sponsored by the University of Miami’s School of Business and Aflac, were representatives of German, French, Finnish, American, British, Swiss and Japanese companies. Each, according to their human resrouces executives, is finding its way in balancing the need to preserve its core values, which are often rooted in culture, and becoming truly global, which can work at odds with those efforts.

Read the full article here.

Ask for your own BRANDEMiX workshop on Employer Branding here.

Employee Engagement- the Dilbert View