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Building a Compelling Employer Brand

Building a Compelling Employer Brand

June 23, 2009

Talented individuals, who have a choice of employers, behave like consumers selecting products, and employer branding is the method by which you attract and acquire them.

People have affinities for brands. People who use Apple computers, iPods, and iPhones respond to the brand’s hip image. You feel different driving a BMW than a Hyundai in part because you associate yourself with the brand, and that colors your experience. Employees respond in a similar way to the organization where they spend 40 to 60 hours a week.

An employer brand is the full physical, intellectual, and emotional experience of employees who work there, and the anticipated experience of candidates who might work there. It is both the vision and the reality of what it means to be employed there. It is both the promise and the fulfillment of that promise. The employer brand radiating out of your organization’s name inspires loyalty, productivity, and a sense of pride . . . or it doesn’t.

In marketing terms, a product’s brand image is grounded in three dimensions: Functional benefits (“This Canon digital camera is easy to use”), emotional benefits (“I feel proud sharing this beautiful picture of my kids”), and reasons to believe (“CNET.com rates this camera #1”)

A solid employer brand is grounded in the same dimensions:

1) Functional benefits. Tangible rewards of working at the employer: salary, health care, a clean, safe workplace, and a convenient location; for example: “XYZ Co. has great compensation and has a beautiful office near my home.”

2) Emotional benefits. Intangible rewards: mission, pride, status, job satisfaction, companionship/collegiality, belonging to a “winning team,” and so on; for example: “I’m proud to work for XYZ Co.—my pals and I make the best widgets in the world.”

3) Reasons to believe. Validation of the employer’s claims; for example: “my friend says XYZ Co. is a great place to work” and “the local news station calls XYZ Co. a hot company for talented people.”