BRANDE : blog archives for March 2014

March 28, 2014

An Internal Communications Guidebook Will Save Your Culture

Internal communications can be challenging for large organizations. It’s sometimes difficult to speak with one voice and reflect the organization’s mission, vision, and values when corporate communications are created by many different people, sometimes in locations scattered around the world. Internal communications reinforce the business strategy to all employees, enhancing and reflecting the culture, so it’s important that they’re consistent, effective, and on-brand.

The solution for many organizations is to create a communications guide or toolkit. Sometimes called a brand book, brand equity playbook, or internal communications guidebook, it’s a compendium of guidelines and templates that’s continually updated to reflect creative components, copy and design specifications, and identity guidelines that make up the company’s brand assets. It helps any team or person painlessly refer to and create communications that properly reflect the appropriate style and messaging.

That’s how a communications guidebook can save your culture. It simply has to contain the following content:

Overview of the Brand

An employee can’t write something that reflects the organization’s brand if they don’t know what it is! The first part of any guidebook should include the company’s mission, vision, and values, as well as its employer branding. (Don’t have an employer brand? Start here.) This will give anyone creating HR communications a foundation for their material, ensuring the information matches the company’s organizational culture and outlook.

Development of the Creative Brief

Creating internal communications is harder than it looks, and some employees will be unfamiliar with the process. I recommend breaking down the creative brief to show the value of each step. These include:

– Identifying objectives, which helps determine what the material will say, who will receive it, and at least one metric for measuring success.
– Clarifying the message, to focus on exactly what the material will say.
– Preparing the budget, since a text-only email has a far different cost from a full-color brochure.
– Planning distribution, whether it’s electronic, “snail mail,” or posted on employee bulletin boards.
– Developing a baseline for scope, schedule, and cost, to get agreement among all stakeholders  for the project’s purpose, requirements, and deliverables.

Visual Identity

Internal communications should match either the organization’s consumer brand, or its employer brand, or sometimes a seasonal or event brand such as “Countdown to Summer.” A guidebook should include a section that covers the identity and style for all types of communications. Sections often include:

– General design guidelines that explain the unifying characteristics of all communications.
– Logo guidelines, with approved and unapproved examples.
– Color palette, with official Pantone colors for print and their web equivalents.
– Typography, listing the organization’s official fonts.
– Imagery guidelines, such as photos of actual employees vs. stock photography.

Copy Voice and Tone

Equally important as the look of an HR communications project is its sound. If an organization has an official style guide, it should go here. I also recommend providing a list of the most common rules and terms, such as approved abbreviations and acronyms. Often, words from the company’s values or guiding principles make their way into communications, so that “providing customer service,” for example, is always written as “providing fanatical customer service” (the word choice of Rackspace).

This section should also include the proofreading and editing process, as well as guidelines for establishing how different drafts are labeled and approved.


As clear as a guidebook’s instructions may be, nothing beats seeing actual examples. The last part of the book should include images and templates for every type of communication, from employee newsletters to recruitment materials to websites.

Improving internal communications requires careful thought, detailed planning, and creativity. A good guidebook improves the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization by creating increased cohesion among employees. It arms them with all the information they need to create compelling, memorable, and easy-to-use HR communications. The effect on the organization’s culture is profound; in some cases, a strong communications guidebook really can save a culture from apathy, low morale, or competing visions.

At Brandemix, we’ve created guidebooks for all types of organizations, from global corporations to non-profits. If you’d like our expertise in creating your own communications guide, contact us. Or add your comments with links to samples of ones you’ve created.

March 24, 2014

Why Chipotle Careers is a Social Media Recruiting Superstar

Jobvite just released its 2014 Job-Seeker Survey, speaking to more than 2,000 people both in and out of the workforce. It found that social recruiting is on the rise: 85% of job-seekers are active on Facebook and 40% are active on Twitter. LinkedIn came in at just 36%, meaning that smart companies have to look beyond the “social network for professionals” to find top talent. I’m always searching for brands that are recruiting in innovative ways, such as Ann Loft and Amtrak. My latest find? Chipotle Mexican Grill, the restaurant chain with more than 1,500 locations in the US, Canada, and Europe. Here’s how they attract and workers who are so engaged and talented that nearly all the company’s managers are promoted from within.

Friendly Facebook

Chipotle Careers has more than 50,000 likes on Facebook. The company posts its open houses and hiring events as Facebook Events, which allows job-seekers to actually RSVP and share the invitation with friends. A simple idea, but you’d be surprised how few companies do this; they usually post hiring events as status updates, which alters how the content can be shared. The “Jobs at Chipotle” tab is powered by Glassdoor and combines all the company’s social recruiting channels — it lists current opening in one section, most recent tweets in another, and provides a large window for its YouTube videos.

Chipotle Careers also uses its Facebook timeline to present short interviews with employees, from the cooks to the C-suite. The timeline is updated in real time as new positions become available. And let’s not forget interaction; the recruiters behind the account are quick to answer questions, celebrate new hires, and respond to complaints. As far as I can tell, very little “censorship” takes place on the page, which allows for an honest but respectful atmosphere.

Chipotle Careers on Facebook

Tuned In to Twitter

Chipotle Careers on Twitter has a small but growing audience. Just having a recruitment-specific account shows that the company is committed to recruiting socially. The recruiters who run the account respond to just about anyone who mentions working at Chipotle, whether it’s a question about resumés or an announcement that they just got hired. This cultivates an important relationship between the chain’s recruiters and job-seekers.

In addition, the account tags its job openings with specific locations, such as #Massachusetts and #Denver, along with #jobs — another simple recruiting tactic that not all companies follow.

YouTube? You Bet!

Some of the videos on Chipotle Careers’ YouTube channel have tens of thousands of views.  One video, A Day in the Life, shows what it’s really like to work in a Chipotle restaurant; another showcases the company’s career advancement opportunities, since the chain boasts that 97% of its general managers started by rolling burritos on the front line.

Chipotle Careers has cross-posted these videos on its Google Plus page — an easy but often overlooked step, since an account on YouTube creates a G+ profile with very little action on the user’s part. This dual presence on Google products helps the company’s SEO and shows it’s prepared for the 37% of job-seekers who are cialis online 20mg active on Google Plus, as the Jobvite survey found.

Chipotle Careers on YouTube

It’s worth noting that none of this social media talent acquisition detracts from Chipotle’s fun and informative careers site, with its clever “Get Rolling” branding and surprisingly candid compensation information. The site hosts both employer videos from the YouTube channel and educational videos about the company’s commitment to organic ingredients. “Brows Jobs” links can be found in several places around the homepage, making it easy for job-seekers to get started.

With a great careers site and powerful engagement on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, I name Chipotle Mexican Grill a Social Media Recruiting Superstar. The company has even expanded to another online channel, as someone recently posted 13 Reasons to Quit Your Job and Work at Chipotle on BuzzFeed.

March 14, 2014

How 25 Years of the Internet Has Re-Shaped HR

The internet is celebrating its 25th birthday this week. 1989 was also the year the Berlin Wall came down, protests rocked China’s Tiananmen Square, “The Simpsons” debuted on TV…and HR was changed forever.

The internet has transformed employer branding, internal communications, and talent acquisition in ways we hardly imagined in 1989. Many of the changes — even the beneficial ones — were disruptive, forcing HR professionals to alter how they operated. In honor of the internet’s silver anniversary, I thought I’d look at the challenges brought about by two-way computer revolution — and how HR has adapted.

Employer Branding

Before the internet, employers could brand themselves pretty much however they wanted. If a company wanted to portray itself as, say, “a culture of innovation,” it only had to put those words on a brochure. Job-seekers, employees, and alumni might think otherwise, but what were they going to do about it? Send a letter?

The internet took much of that power away from employers. Sites like Glassdoor and JobeeHive let current and former employees anonymously describe the real perks and pitfalls of their workplace. Last month, when a disgruntled Apple contractor quit what had been his dream company, he arguably undid decades of carefully cultivated employer branding. These days, if an employer brand doesn’t match the reality, the public will know about it. And people will see the company as disingenuous at worst and oblivious at best.

Luckily, HR has adapted to this new reality. Smart talent acquisition managers read the anonymous reviews and enlist agencies (like ours) to discover what employees, executives, and customers really think about a company, using honest insights to create an employer brand that’s transparent and genuine.

Internal Communications

Before the internet, internal communications was relatively simple. There was a weekly or monthly newsletter, delivered to on-site mailboxes or employees’ homes. Events could also be announced on bulletin boards around the workplace. Want to join the company softball league? Find the sign-up sheet.

The internet allowed for much more interactive communications — for better or worse. Suddenly, the IC department was charged with creating an intranet, which required design and content and continuous maintenance. HR professionals couldn’t wait a month between updates. Paper newsletters became emails, which a single employee could leak to the world with one click.

But you can’t keep a good department down. Employers of choice have created beautiful, informative intranets, or outsourced to applications like Yammer, letting employees collaborate and converse in ways better than email. Brandemix has had the opportunity to create some intranets for our clients, and we’ve found that employees are far more informed and engaged than they were during the monthly newsletter days.

Talent Acquisition

Pre-internet, recruiters placed job ads in the newspaper (a single Sunday ad often costing as much as a new car) and job-seekers mailed or faxed paper resumés and then waited by the phone. That was pretty much the extent of the interaction until the recruiter called a candidate in for an interview. Then it was back to silence after the interview was over.

The internet opened up the communication on both ends. Now, recruiters can proactively pursue top talent on LinkedIn. They can also let candidates know their status through dynamic career portals that update information as the candidate moves through the process. On the other end, job-seekers now look up potential employers on social sites. They expect answers to their questions and the ability to apply from their mobile device.

That means forward-thinking companies must have a robust social presence, whether it’s GE on Facebook, Taco Bell on Twitter, or Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest on Pinterest. Talent acquisition departments now need a dedicated social media manager with the power to respond to questions and complaints quickly, lest the employer brand suffer (as described above). Some companies draw back the curtain on the hiring process by giving recruiters their own individual social channels, letting job-seekers get to know them before they write a single word of their cover letter.

No headcount for social recruiting? Brandemix can help.

Looking back at the world of 1989 shows how much the internet has changed virtually every HR interaction. Each HR professional must now cultivate an eye for talent, a nose for content, and an ear for questions. While they come with their own perils, these challenges have only made the department stronger and crucial to the success of a company.

I’d love to be part of that success. If you’d like a second opinion on your employer branding, internal communications, or talent acquisition, contact me.


March 10, 2014

Social Media Lessons from the Oscars

You’ve already heard about the Coke logo snafu, but the 2014 Academy Awards provided other useful social media lessons for those of us in the branding, marketing, or recruiting fields. From the meticulously planned to the completely unexpected, a few Oscar moments had enormous effects on Twitter, driven by brands and the public.

Planned Product Placement

Samsung paid several million dollars for five minutes of product placement and other consideration during the broadcast. This came in the form of host Ellen DeGeneres using a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to take photos and check Twitter during the ceremony.

Samsung’s involvement hit its peak when Ellen announced she wanted to take a photo and make it the most tweeted image ever. Though she seemed to want only Meryl Streep in the photo, soon a gaggle of nominees and past winners huddled around her, and Bradley Cooper — chosen for having the longest arms — took the group’s picture with the Galaxy. Sure enough, it quickly became the most retweeted tweet of any kind in history, with 3,331,527 retweets at last count. That easily dwarfs the previous champion, President Obama’s re-election tweet, which topped out at a paltry 781,298.

The most retweeted tweet ever - the 2014 Oscars

However, Ellen somewhat undercut her Samsung promotion by tweeting backstage photos to her personal Twitter during the broadcast from her iPhone. This may not have made Samsung happy, but it’s keeping with Ellen’s personal brand: she frequently touts the iPhone on her talk show and has even featured it in songs and comedy sketches.

The lesson: Examine all the angles. Anyone at Samsung who watched Ellen’s should have known she might use her own phone backstage. Consider the big picture when sponsoring, hosting, or participating in a live event.

Unexpected Opportunities

Many brands and their marketing teams were watching the Academy Awards, waiting for an “Oreo moment” — a incident, somehow related to their product, which could be exploited via Twitter. For Oreo, it was a clever graphic and tagline tweeted during Super Bowl XLVII’s power outage, which garnered almost 16,000 retweets. But just as that electrical failure was completely unforeseen, brands had no idea what to expect during winners’ acceptance speeches or Ellen’s impromptu escapades, such as the group photo mentioned above.

Ellen ordering pizza seemed like just such a moment. When she joked about it early in the broadcast, Pizza Hut seized on Ellen’s remarks and quickly tweeted, “Did somebody say pizza? We got you.” The chain got a pretty good 974 retweets for their speedy reaction; my cursory research finds the best Pizza Hut posts seem to get 100-200. But the spotlight only lasted until a delivery man for Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria showed up and Ellen started handing out slices.

Pizza Hut's 2014 Oscars tweet gets 974 retweets

Miller Lite also jumped at an opportunity when Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor. During his speech, he said his father was probably in heaven, “with a cold can of Miller Lite, and he’s just dancin’.” The brand quickly tweeted, “Miller Lite. The official beer of award winning actor’s dads [sic].” At last count, that post had more than 2,000 retweets.

The lesson: Oreo’s tweet last year has probably changed live events forever. From now on, your brand should watch major live broadcasts — award shows, sporting events, political debates, and maybe even the Rose Parade — and try to find something they can tie into a clever tweet.

Total Insanity

Possibly the most talked-about moment was, like the Super Bowl blackout, an accident that had never quite occurred at an Oscars broadcast — or never quite like this. When John Travolta introduced Idina Menzel, performing Best Song nominee “Let It Go,” he inexplicably mangled her name, calling her “Adele Dazeem” (spellings differ, for obvious reasons).

Twitter exploded. Half a dozen Twitter profiles with the name “Adele Dazeem” sprang up immediately, though only one seemed to get any traction and probably won’t last long. It was such a strange incident that no brand could find a strategy to exploit it. What could they do? Maybe Warby Parker could recommend Travolta come to them for corrective lenses or LASIK could volunteer their services? That might have drawn the ire of people with actual vision or reading impairments. So perhaps brands were smart to stay silent.

Parody Adele Dazeem twitter account created right after John Travolta's mistake at the 204 Oscars

Though brands couldn’t capitalize, many experts thing that Menzel is the true winner. Karen Post, author of Brand Turnaround, told the New York Daily News that the name game could be the best thing that ever happened to her.  “After 43 million people witnessed Travolta’s gaffe,” the Daily News reported, “Menzel’s Twitter following began increasing rapidly.”

The lesson: Be prepared for anything during a live broadcast…but know when to show restraint.

Will brands be ready for the next big live event? Will another unexpected moment join the “Adele Dazeem” in the Social Media Hall of Fame? Stay tuned…

March 3, 2014

Social Recruiting Is Still The Next Big Thing

Jobvite recently released its 2014 Job-Seeker Survey, speaking to 2,135 adults both in and out of the labor force. I’ve read the report and discovered that social and mobile recruiting are still trending upwards,just as they were in 2012.

So who is looking for work? Everyone. 35% of respondents said they change jobs at least every five years. Only 47% have stayed at a job more than 10 years. In addition, 51% of employed workers are actively seeking or are open to a new job. That includes 26% of workers making $100,000 or more, proving that no one is safe! All together, Jobvite considers 71% of the entire American workforce to be “on the job market.”

College grads go to the following places to vet a prospective employer’s company culture: 23% LinkedIn; 19% Facebook; 19% Google Plus; 16% Instagram; 13% Twitter. It’s hard to believe, but this is one of the few categories LinkedIn actually wins.


Image courtesy of Jobvite

For example, 40% of those surveyed found their “favorite or best” job through a personal connection. The next biggest category was social media but Facebook comes in first at 10%, followed by LinkedIn at 6% and Twitter at 5%.

Facebook virtually ties LinkedIn in the social network used by job-seekers to look up contacts that are employees of a prospective employer.

76% of “social job seekers” (those dependent on social media for job searches) found their current job on Facebook. Almost the same percentage shared an opportunity with a contact, or had a contact share one with them, on Facebook as on LinkedIn. This has to make LinkedIn executives scratch their heads.

It gets worse for LinkedIn. While 94% of recruiters are active on the network, only 36% of job-seekers are. In fact, the social site specifically designed for professional networking comes in last of the four major social channels: 83% of job-seekers are active on Facebook, 40% on Twitter, and 37% on Google Plus. 

Not to pick on LinkedIn, but it loses in the mobile category as well. 12% of job-seekers said they’ve search for a job on Facebook using their mobile device. Only 7% have done a mobile search with LinkedIn.

Image courtesy of Jobvite

Let’s talk about mobile for a moment. 43% of job-seekers have used their mobile device to engage in some type of job-search activity. (Perhaps the biggest indication that times are changing is that 17% of full-time workers have searched for job on their phone at their current workplace.)

This carries over into the application process as well. 27% of job-seekers say it’s “important” to be able to apply for a job directly from their mobile device. 55% say it’s “important” that they’re able to view job listings without having to register first.

It seems that job-seekers are wising up, as well. 93% of recruiters say they’re “likely” to look at a candidate’s social profile (whichever one they can find). In response, some job-seekers have untagged themselves from photos, deleted specific content — and 17% have actually deleted a social media account.

Image courtesy of Jobvite

You can see that social and mobile recruiting aren’t fads, and they’re moving from ancillary tactics to being full partners in an integrated online strategy.

But even with all this data showing how much job-seekers use Facebook, only 65% of recruiters are active there. Are you ready to create a careers portal on Facebook? Want to improve your LinkedIn presence? Do you see the lower numbers for Twitter and Google Plus as an opportunity to stake a claim? 

Brandemix has a long history of social media recruiting success, and we’d love to help with your social and mobile campaigns. Contact us for more information.