Who’s Steering the Corporate Ship

A leader is a tone-setter, responsible for bringing people together and setting a model of attitude and behavior. It’s the reason social movements form around charismatic luminaries, and the greatest football teams always have headstrong quarterbacks. Without a CEO who lives and embodies the brand, customers will not buy into it.

So if a CEO is the figurehead of a company’s brand, who is the figurehead of a company’s employer brand? You might guess HR or Marketing, when in fact it is again, the CEO.

Whether you subscribe to BRANDEMiX “1 brand” theory of corporate strategy or not, any branding initiative, regardless of target audience, needs to be inspired by the CEO. Employees will not rally around a brand unless a company’s culture and personality are defined at the top.

Without top down inspiration, the brand can flounder like a ship lost a sea.

So what’s HR’s role? First Mate.

HR must take the captain’s orders and radiate the brand out to the labor market and to the internal employees. Just as marketers have insight and knowledge about communicating to consumers, HR should understand better than any department how to talk to jobseekers and employees.

Figuring out the brand is the easy part – you already have it – communicating it is the creative part. It takes a constantly evolving understanding of the people you’re talking to.

As HR people do we spend enough time understanding the attitudes and behaviors of jobseekers, and more importantly our own employees? When’s the last time you did employee focus groups? Have you surveyed jobseekers? More importantly, how have you implemented any findings into the usual course of your communications? Answering these questions needs to be HR’s responsibility as part of the CEO’s marching orders for the brand.

Marketers have always relied on their ad agencies for this insight and expertise in communicating with consumers. Now HR has a secret weapon too.

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