Employer Branding – The things people are getting wrong…part 3

by in Employer Branding, Recruitment, Recruitment Marketing

Sorry for the delay – been on holiday! Read part 1 and part 2.
Here’s the third instalment of what I think will be a 6 part guide. Could be wrong. Anyway, some people have said I’m being a bit miserable with all my rants and that I should be more positive. To set my stall out, this guide is trying to help people recognise some of the things they shouldn’t do. I’m not doing everyone down that’s trying to develop their brand. In fact I applaud you for trying. So sorry if I’m coming across a bit grumpy, I’m not really like that in real life…well not always. Anyway, here goes.

Lack of creativity

My biggest gripe. Following directly on from the last blog…

On an international level, we have different cultures, languages, climates and attitudes. On a seniority level, the thoughts and motivations of a Director is different to the guy/gal in the postroom (do they exist anymore?), on a discipline level what gets the software developer up in the morning is different to what floats the sales manager’s boat. So what makes you think that one message that has to be published GLOBALLY will appeal to all those people? Is the penny dropping yet?

How do you expect to attract the best available talent, if you’re hamstrung with the global brand? Too many brand managers are getting too caught up with the restrictions of brand guidelines to allow flexibility in order to communicate the key messages to that set of individuals to persuade them to apply. More often than not, unless if you’re a superbrand, candidates are attracted to the job first, not the global brand.

Lets just think about this for a minute. If you want to attract your target talent, for say a really tough role or roles. What do you want to do? You want that candidate to look at the advert, the career site, the social media channels, and feel like you really want them. Like you are recruiting for just that one person. It should strike a cord, the tone, the visual, the candidate experience. You want to show the candidate that you ‘get them’, you ‘get’ what motivates them, because it motivates you as an employer too. Do you really think at that point, they are going to notice the border is 3mm from the headline? (Apologies to everyone in our studio who absolutely would notice that – that’s what our clients pay us for :-))

So one step further, and think what do candidates think of your one size fits all employer brand messaging? Now bear in mind, that employees* are now expecting more flexibility in terms of work/life balance, a greater fit with their company, and a level of transparency when it comes to performance and transferable skills. How does your rigid template look? How does the corporate stuffy copy (or worse, copy and pasted job description) sound on your site? How does the vague catch-all social media updates impact on your brand? Get my point? So in actual fact, trying to appeal to everyone you’re actually putting off the exact type of people you want? Or do you want bland, vague and non-committed candidates – if you do great, carry on. But I doubt you are. For me, it shows a lack of flexibility and that if you join that company you’ll be made to fit into their way or it’s the highway. Maybe that’s extreme.

*I’m referring to the digital generation here, not necessarily the baby boomers, and gen y employees, who have different working ethics – and yet another reason to allow some flexibility in the values you promote.

Let’s leave employer branding for a moment, and think about commercial brands and marketing. When BMW want to sell a car, their marketing campaign communicates the values, for example, the Ultimate Driving Machine. That’s the first objective, let people know it’s BMW. Secondly, the model they want to sell will only appeal to a certain audience.  So the campaign will look like a BMW advert, that’s the brand guidelines at work. But and it’s an important but, the content of the campaign will be aimed squarely at that smaller specific audience, the content of which will be based on the values that the target audience will resonate the most with. Back to employer branding, think of your employer brand, as something that you’re selling to all the people who’s values match yours, (i.e. all the people in the world you want and like the idea of the Ultimate Driving Machine in BMW’s case), that’s the brand. Now you want to sell the specific job, bearing in mind the variants to your ‘product’ such as: region, country, city, seniority, discipline and key skills to name a few off the top of my head. Now you can put your campaign together. Whatever the employer brand is, or the EVP says, you must allow this flexibility.

Please please please, don’t let creative die for the sake of a rigid brand guidelines booklet.

As ever, more thoughts, comments and opinions welcome, if I’m wrong tell me. Read Part 4