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BRANDE : Employer Branding

April 5, 2017

Activate Your Brand Internally

You’ve done it. You have a stellar consumer brand. Your career website tells the story you need to—about your culture, the talent you are seeking and the opportunities you have for those that are more than a culture fit, and are a “culture add.” You’re getting resumes from the right candidates for the right jobs. Things couldn’t be better. But aren’t you forgetting something?

Once your exciting new candidates are new employees, is your talent brand holding up internally? And just as importantly, do your existing employees feel like they are a part of the story?

Now’s the time to take the principles of your talent brand and make sure it applies internally across all your communications touch points from your intranet to your training programs. Here are some tips on where to begin.

Create Internal Awareness of Your Talent Brand
As you developed the brand architecture for your talent brand, you likely shared it with and sought input from your senior leaders, key HR stakeholders, your communications teams, and hopefully some influential hiring managers. Now it is time to go further. Consider creating an eye-catching, one-page overview of your talent brand and what it is trying to achieve related to your culture and working at the company. Share it with all your people managers and give them key points to share with their employees—an appropriate time to launch might be in conjunction with a milestone of your performance management cycle, merit increases or bonus payouts, or when the company releases its yearly goals or strategy.

Once you have communicated your talent to employees, get them involved. And I don’t mean just in your employee referral program. Consider tactics such as employees creating personal statements (with photos) like “I’m proud to work for my company because…” or “I enjoy coming to work every day because…” and having them share on your intranet or internal social media channels, such as Yammer. Consider partnering with your external communications teams to share the best ones on your corporate social media channels to furthering our your corporate reputation and employment brand.

Take Stock of Internal Touch Points
Are various touch points across the employee life cycle telling the same story as your talent brand? Is your talent brand coming through in your internal communications?

Take the time to look at some of your internal processes to ensure that they are reinforcing your talent brand and that your new hires and existing employees hear the story that is being told externally living up on the inside.

Some key areas to look at that may need updating or refreshing to match your talent brand include:

• New hiring onboarding and orientation

• Learning and development programs/training (especially training for new people managers, inclusion and diversity          seminars, rollouts of the code of conduct, etc.)

• Performance management process (Did you promise ongoing feedback during the hiring process and are you living up to it?  Are your people managers equipped to do it?)

• Talent management and succession planning (Are you honoring the tenants of your talent brand as you evaluate the future  talent plans of the organization?)

Review all your internal materials from top to bottom—from new hire paperwork to benefits brochures, to your intranet platform, to signage around the office. Does everything support the talent you want to keep today and the talent you want to inspire tomorrow? Each piece of your internal communications should support the story you want to tell about who you are as an employer—from attracting new talent to keep your best talent. Now may be the time to embark on that communications audit you’ve been avoiding.

Need help reinforcing your talent brand internally? Let us help.

March 1, 2017

Moving Past Culture Fit To “Culture Add”

people-diversity-700x467There is so much out there about cultural fit. And it does have its place. We all want that perfect candidate. The one that can live up to all the clichéd buzz words — “hit the ground running,” “add value,” “contribute right away,” and of course “fit in.”

And yet, at the same time, we are looking to build a culture of diversity in backgrounds, thinking and experience. We are looking for people who can bring something to the table versus just bring themselves to work. That’s why I think it is now time we move past culture fit and embrace a new term — “Culture Add.”

Why culture add?

When you are only thinking of culture fit, I think there is a good chance you are hiring people who think and act alike. In today’s world of speed, innovation, and adaptability, you might just need different talents around the table to progress as much as you need to. When you consider if a candidate is a “culture add” then you are looking for candidates to bring in new ideas, a different point-of-view, and bring out different traits in others in a collaborative, positive way. Ideally, this person will fill in what you might be missing to give you that competitive edge for your products or services.

The 3 Es of culture add

Employees: If you embrace this concept of culture add, I urge you to be clear with your existing employees that the next new team member will be great — but may not be just like them. Emphasize the benefits of collaboration among diverse teams, and when those benefits happen celebrate them.

Employer brand: If you want to go even further to embrace the concept of culture add, take the time to look at your employer brand — from your website to your internal materials. What would you need to do to refresh or enhance it to speak more broadly to the qualities of your culture and how prospective employees can add to it? Decide if it’s an option or an imperative and make your choice known.

Expectations: Provide change management training so hiring managers know how to talk with candidates and to help managers understand there are expectations they’ll need to meet. Offer them training so they don’t fall into a bias trap.

And above all, remember that when you hire for culture add you’re not just adding to the culture but adding to the bottom line as well.

Need help with defining your culture? Try Brandemix Rapid-Cycle Talent Branding.

February 1, 2017

Yes, You Can Do a Communications Audit.

brandemix communications audit

Don’t Fear It—See It as a Tool of Empowerment

Don’t be threatened by the idea of an internal communications audit. It’s not something that will undermine the great job you are already doing as a communications professional. You do a communications audit because it will showcase and help you prioritize the great work you are doing and to help give you more time for the projects you want to focus. If you are working on a branding or rebranding initiative, this is the perfect time to embark on a communications audit and tie the two events together.

Do a communications audit because you are a leader and want to show it—to your team and your boss. This is your chance to do even more—despite what I know are your limited resources and lean staff.

Ready to get started? Read on for communications audit tips, so that you can do your best work yet.

Set a Goal and a Timeline

Set some deadlines around when you expect to start and end your communications audit—meaning when will you start it and when will you present your overall findings. Does your mid-year or annual performance review make sense? Should your summary be timed with a business priority such as having it completed before you begin the annual planning or budget process? You may identify projects that need a complete overhaul that warrant a separate timeline, and certain activities that you think can stop may need wind down time.

If you have a team, this is the time to engage them in the overall vision for the audit and let them know they will be a part of the process—and the decisions.

Block time on your calendar to work on the audit. Even if it is just an hour a week or part of the time of your weekly team meetings, dedicating focused time to it will make feel like the priority it needs to be—but not overwhelming.

Gather What You Have

You have more than you think to get started. Here is a short list of items to start assembling.

• Annual Editorial Calendars

• Communications Plans for specific groups/departments

• Individual Project Plans/Trackers

• Schedule for Compliance and/or Routine/Repeating Messages

• Company Events Calendar

Pull the Details and Dive In

This is where you are going to roll up your sleeves and pull the details on your projects—the brochures, the intranet stories, the postcards, the email messages, etc.

You will want to put together a grid for each project that outlines the following:

• Goal

• Channels used and effectiveness

• Gap analysis (What could we have done better? What should we try next time? What audiences were reached well? Who wasn’t? How can we be more digital?)

• Writing style (What was it? Did it work? Should it change if the project comes up again?)

• Tone of voice (Was it effective? How should it evolve?)

• Branding and Design (Did it follow the guidelines? How did it fit with other materials? Did it all work as a campaign?)

• Message consistency

• Make a recommendation: Does this project stop? Can the communication be combined with something else? Does it continue in a similar way? Does it need to change significantly?

This is a good place to do a “client” or “stakeholder” review and evaluate your relationship with those you are creating content for and what feedback you may need to share with them to have an even better outcome next time.

Some thought starters:

• Did they clearly articulate their goals and objectives?

• Did they own their subject matter and give you the facts/content you needed?

• Did they give you enough lead time?

• Did they meet the review deadlines?

• Did they take the time to review the results?

What Can You Stop?

The only way you can go further on your priority projects is to stop doing some work. Use the facts to back you. Find ways to combine or streamline messages. Or maybe it just means YOU need to stop doing it—but it’s a great learning opportunity for someone on your team.

Where Do You Need to Go Further?

For campaigns that need a revamp, you’ll need to set aside time separate from your communications audit to evaluate how you will make these projects sing through the channel, voice, tone, branding, design or writing changes and where they fall on the list of priorities. This is a great opportunity to look at the workload of your team and redistribute work so that high-potential team members have stretch opportunities or the visibility they (or you!) need.

Share Your Results and Put Them into Action

I know you know this but before you make a lot of changes run it by whom you need to—your boss, your boss’s boss, etc. Get agreement and have an action plan for going forward for what you will stop, start and continue, and when you will be talking to your stakeholders.

Still need more help? Let us do it for you.

December 9, 2016

Employer Branding Resources

December 2, 2016

What Is Brand Research? (And Why Should You Do It?)

So you’ve read my post “Four Signs You’re Ready to Rebrand” and answered “yes” to one or more of the questions. Time to design a new logo, right?

 

Wrong. The first step in the process, and the most important, is conducting brand research. 

What Is Brand Research (And Why Should You Do It?)

Before you can embark on the exciting and sometimes painful process of re-branding, you need to go beyond theory and acquire actionable knowledge- game-changing insights that can steal market share and drive sustainable business results. That requires brand research. 

It’s safe to assume that in your personal or professional life, you don’t make important decisions without doing  due diligence, so why should your brand deserve anything less?

Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid. Don’t rely on a one-rat lab study. Put together a solid plan incorporating some of these tried and true techniques:

 

1. Qualitative Research (aka “Qual”)

Bring in a small sampling of the “right” types of people and do a focus group, or in-depth interview, online or as a telephone campaign. The questions are open-ended and the answers are subjective. A trained moderator (like me) will probe for deeper perceptions, opinions, and feelings about your topic. Emotional drivers, not rational ones, are what we’re zeroing in on since branding is all about creating emotional connections. We recommend 360 branding that involves both external (consumer) and internal (employee) elements, so you’ll want groups of consumers, vendors, employees, and senior leadership in the mix.
 

2. Quantitative Research (aka “Quant”)

This is most effective when used to validate the findings of your qualitative study. It’s much more objective because well-crafted questions deliver unbiased answers. You can conduct some quantitative research surveys through online tools like SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang. But the trick is getting the right analysis from the data. Make sure that you get a good sample pool by surveying across geography, age, incomes, and skill sets (for employee research).

3. Ideation Workshops

These are useful in creating corporate mission and purpose statements, launching new products or product extensions, or simply taking research findings to the next stage of development. It provides a structured forum for collective brainstorming (where there are no bad ideas!) and can be augmented with trend-panels and outside thought-leaders. Invite 10-20 of your closest multidisciplinary stakeholders for an off-site retreat and let the brand games begin. 

Don’t Try This Yourself

I recommend bringing in an outside party to conduct any type of research. For qualitative, it helps to have an outsider who isn’t afraid of the truth, and who can turn negative discussions into positive opportunities without feeling personally attacked. For quantitative, it helps reassure both internal and external participants that the results are anonymous. Conducting the research off-site also helps persuade subjects to be completely honest instead of just reciting the party line.


Evaluating It All

Since it’s more art than science, analysis is where real branding experts really shine. (There are three sides to every story.) Agencies like Brandemix use the latest tools and technology to analyze the data to create unique messaging and marketing plans that resonate with fragmented groups. It takes experience, insight, and creativity to turn research into tangible business results.
 

Goals

• The first goal is to simply get to truth. How do people really feel about your brand?

• The next goal is align the findings with your company’s mission, vision, and values. If it’s an employer brand, you want to align it with your consumer brand.

 • The third goal is to find your niche, your “white space,” where you can deliver something that no one else can. Again, this applies to both internal and external branding.

 • Another goal is to look at your “As-Is,” your current situation, and to find what opportunities are available to you. Also, what can you learn from your “wannabe’s”? If you “wannabe” like Starbucks, in what ways can you emulate their successes?

In Conclusion

Brand research professionals have more tools available now than ever before. There is no best way to craft the perfect research plan. It’s through careful consideration of objectives, timeline, and budget that a sensible plan emerges. The answers can be painful, and every answer can lead to two more questions, but every question can lead to new opportunities to capture market share in ways never before considered. 

That’s why we do it! Let us do it for you.