Monthly Archives: October 2013

Why Ann Loft Careers is a Social Media Superstar

The latest Jobvite survey shows how important social media has become for talent acquisition: 78% of recruiters have made a hire through social, 33% say it decreases time to hire, and 49% say it increases the quality of candidates. Most impressive is that 20% of recruiters believe social media’s value is at least $90,000 a year.

Who is leading the trend in social recruiting? I’m always searching for brands that are use social channels to engage job-seekers in clever ways. Joining recent honorees Amtrak and Taco Bell is the latest Social Media Superstar: Ann Loft Careers.

This iconic fashion line is active on seven social platforms, reaching out to job-seekers with compelling and unique content. Here are some highlights.

A Facebook Page With More Content Than Some Websites
Ann Loft Careers has a very robust Facebook page. Recruiting channels for Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube each get a tab, and there are custom tabs for internships and for the company’s charitable giving. On average, Ann Inc. posts twice a day, and responses to timeline questions are prompt and sincere — one query was answered in just 12 minutes and another was answered after 9:30 at night. Best of all, there’s a custom tab just for the employer brand, “Fit Is Everything,” that includes the company’s mission, vision, and values.

Ann Loft Careers’ custom Facebook tabs

Reaching Out Through YouTube
There are 29 videos on Ann Loft Careers’ YouTube channel. These brief, well-short videos show what it’s like to work in a store or at corporate. Several showcase the internship program, while others explore the company’s green initiatives. Ann Inc. even charges headlong into what can be a touchy topic — the condition of the foreign workers making their clothes. But it’s communicated as ResponsiblyANN: Supporting Women and shows all the company is doing to improve women’s lives around the world. My favorite videos are instructive, such as The Perfect Interview Outfit and How to Apply at AnnCareers.com

Showing Off On Pinterest
Fashion is visual, which may may explain why Ann Loft Careers has a jaw-dropping 9,000 pins collected into 56 boards. And yet a number of boards have nothing to do with clothing. Along with boards offering great job-search advice (“Fall Interview Outfits,” “Attention-Grabbing Resumes”) there are some galleries that are just plain fun, such as a board devoted to breast cancer awareness month, one for Halloween treats, and one for “must-read” novels. Taken together, these boards add up to more than a look at Ann Loft Careers; they convey the Ann Inc. lifestyle. It’s a brilliant way to communicate the company’s culture and to help job-seekers self-select.

One of Ann Loft Careers’ 56 Pinterest boards

Putting It All Together
But what if a job-seeker wants to follow all of Ann Inc.’s recruiting channels? The company’s recruiting team has put together a web page like I’ve never seen — a three-column live-stream of all their posts, from Instagram photos to tweets. It allows job-seekers to get a snapshot of what Ann Inc. is posting without having to follow all seven platforms. But even with all that information, the page is as clean and eye-pleasing as one of their fashion ensembles. It’s like a Tumblr or Storify just for Ann Inc. talent acquisition, but it lives within anncareers.com. 
Ann Loft Careers combines authenticity with whimsy, and education with fun. It’s reaching job-seekers in lots of visual ways and giving away important information on the job search and the interview process. And it aggregates all its social content into one convenient stream. It looks like Ann Inc. is in an enviable position as it prepares for its 50th anniversary in August 2014.

For all these reasons, I declare Ann Loft Careers a Social Media Superstar!

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Internal Communications Best Practices from Thomas Cook

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, show how organizations can use Thomas Cook’s philosophy in engaging employees during a re-branding.

To learn how Brandemix can help you with employee engagement and internal communications, visit our website.

Five Things You Can Lean About Internal Communications from the Thomas Cook Re-Branding

Thomas Cook is the world’s oldest travel agency. But after surviving wars and natural disasters for 150 years, the company was in real financial trouble in 2011. 

Marketing magazine listed the problems: “Emergency loans, travel-agency closures, job cuts and profit warnings,” and about $786 million in losses in 2012. The company closed 200 of its agencies and shuttered its publishing arm, which had produced 300 travel guides.

But with new CEO Harriet Green, Thomas Cook reorganized and stabilized. And then it needed what Head of Communications Vicki Burwell called “a face and personality to the body that we have worked so hard to make fit and healthy again.” That is: a new brand.

With input from stakeholders across all its divisions around the world, on October 1 the company changed its logo from a blue sphere to a “Sunny Heart” and trimmed its lengthy tagline from “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it” to simply “Let’s go!”

Thomas Cook logo change

But how to roll out this new branding to 27,000 employees at offices all over the globe — some of whom worked at home? What followed is a case study in smart internal re-branding. Here’s what Thomas Cook did right:

Supporting managers first
“We first unveiled the Sunny Heart to our Leadership Council, 140 senior managers from across the Group,” Burwell told All Things IC. “They then owned the rollout to every single employee over a two-week period” in the run-up to the official launch. Rather than a single directive from the CEO, which wouldn’t have been customized to each division, Thomas Cook let managers lead the way. And even better  they gave the managers a launch kit with videos and slide shows to communicate a consistent message across all departments.

The importance of employee buy-in
Thomas Cook could have rushed or overlooked the employee roll-out; after all, the branding was already done, so who cared what the workers thought? But Burwell saw that it was crucial to have employees on their side: “For them to understand why this is so much more than a new brand image, and the role that they have in our ongoing transformation, is vital for them to deliver our all-important brand promise.” Spoken like a true brand advocate!

Employee trust
The agency unveiled the branding to employees first, so there were 14 days where one leak, anywhere in the world, could have diminished the public unveiling. “We trusted them with all the detail and asked them to keep it under wraps until launch day so we could maximize impact,” Burwell said, “and it really paid off.”

Thomas Cook employees heart

A “carnival” kickoff
Anticipation and secrecy made for a very fun day when the branding finally went public. Burwell said, “There was quite a carnival atmosphere on launch day. Lots of people chose to come to work with heart or yellow-themed clothing and there was a lot of social media activity with photos and reactions being posted on Facebook and Twitter. There was a great sense of anticipation and much celebration on the day. When employees are actually celebrating your brand, you’ve done your job.

Maintaining momentum
The launch is over, but the excitement goes on. Burwell explained how the internal communications team is keeping employees engaged and involved: “We’ll be using [a re-branded intranet] as a primary channel to keep the brand alive and to encourage even greater ‘Groupness,’ a term we’ve adopted across the company over the past year. We’ve asked for feedback and ideas on all the Sunny Heart activity and will be using this to help further shape our ongoing plans.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Through all phases of this transformational initiative, Thomas Cook did everything right. Take a look at their new website and see for yourself.

Is your organization looking for a new brand and greater “groupness”? Let Brandemix be your travel guide.

Brandemix Bonus Reel: The Importance of One Brand

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, explains why it’s important for organizations to integrate their employer brands with their consumer brands — and shows how to do it right.

To learn more about employer branding, download our free strategy guide or contact us.

One Brand: Part 2. Building a Brand Fortress Through Integrated Employer Branding

Employer branding has been heating up. According to a 2013 LinkedIn survey of recruiting trends, recruiting leaders are fearful their competitors are investing more heavily in employer branding than they are. No surprise. Employer branding done well brings in qualified candidates that are pre-sold with your organization’s mission, vision, and work rewards, making a recruiter’s job much easier. For larger organizations, having a well-articulated employer brand architecture ensures consistency or messaging- where everyone, from employees to recruiters, is singing in one voice. 

There is one question that gets asked repeatedly, in every employer branding workshop that we hold. “But where does our employer brand fit with
our corporate brand?”

It’s not unheard of for some companies to create an employer brand slogan that lives only within HR, and more specifically recruiting. Often, against best practice, it has no bearing on a true employer value proposition, one that is based upon the unique elements of your culture and workplace, resonates with the people you would like more of, and integrates with the same value proposition to your consumer base.  But this should change.

So why should you do it?
Integrating your employer brand with your corporate brand will build a brand fortress: a talented body of people working together to support the same corporate goals and achieve positive outcomes from their efforts. There are demonstrated financial rewards with having an engaged workforce of people who truly believe in what the company is trying to achieve and how they deliver on the corporate brand promise.
 

How can you do it?
The marketing department is your friend. Talk to them and find out what information they have on hand. You might get consumer surveys, industry trends, and if you’re really lucky, the brand book.  Along with logos, color palettes and typography, the brand book should contain the brand position of your organization, what your organization is and what it stands for.

These words and phrases sum up your company’s vision and customer promise, and might also define how the brand is brought to life. Everything you do in communication and action needs to support that statement, including your employer brand. 

2013 LinkedIn Global Recruiting Survey

The consumer brand will be your guide to how your company wants people to feel about the brand and the overarching business objective you want to achieve. And that’s where the workforce enters.

Look closely at that statement. There are emotional qualities embedded within in it. “Confidence”, “passion”, “determination”, and “diligence” enjoyment may be some of the feelings it tries to evoke. Those feelings are what the employer brand has to align with.

What are the demonstrated experiences from your workplace that bring those emotions to life? What need to change, if anything, to keep those emotions true through the pre- and post-employment cycle? Think of the potential talent that you are looking to hire. Can they buy into that emotional space?  Do your business goals resonate with them, or is it simply a good job fit?  

Finding the true brand ambassadors through your employer branding will have a positive impact on culture, performance, recruitment  and retention. You’ll find after time you’ll have employees who come, stay, grow and recommend others committed to the company’s success.

And that’s the ROI of branding done right.

One Brand: Part 1. Extending Your Brand Through Internal Communications

Does internal communications matter to consumer branding?

You bet it does. Are you a retailer rolling out a brand positioning about knowledgeable salespeople helping customers navigate a myriad of product choices? Better make sure your knowledgeable salespeople stay that way.



Branding for financial services? A Forrest research report reveals that mergers and acquisitions have hurt customer relationships and advises a refocused attention on customer service. You better bring some TLC to your call centers.

What about an admired airline promising an incredible experience and having it come crashing (sorry) down when the baggage is stolen, lost, or delayed through poor handling? 

While there are a variety of factors that influence public brand sentiment, your communicating to your consumer brand  to your employees is one that is easy to get right.  

1. Roll in your brand.
Let your employees in on the big reveal before you launch your new campaign. 

2. Show the relevance.  
Now that you have articulated your brand values internally:

  • Who needs to do what differently?
  • What do they need to change?  

3. Communicate your brand inward.

  • Look at your internal communications and the audiences you reach.
  • Where are the best places to infuse your positioning? 

Think about hosting a brand training event so sales people know what the customers will expect from them. Recognize and reward great customer service, and encourage testimonials from happy customers. Make sure your employees know how they are responsible for the success for your business and reap the rewards from a singular brand outside and in.

We welcome your input and are here for your help.