There is an increasing body of evidence that makes the case for solid employer brand management. From an organization’s point of view, an employer brand encapsulates the key qualities current and prospective employees associate with you as an employer. These qualities can be economic (remuneration), functional (training and skills) or psychological (such as a sense of identity or status).
As an organization, whether you’ve taken the time to define it or not, you have an employer brand. What are the benefits of building a good employer brand? Three benefits that have been identified in studies that make a case for employer brand management are enhanced attraction, increased retention and greater engagement with staff.
In essence, this means attracting better quality candidates at a lower cost, more effective and proactive employees and, ultimately, increased revenues.
How does one reach the heart of employer brand management? The answer to this question is that the key principles for employer brand management are much the same as for regular brand management. Whoever is tasked with developing the employer brand needs to spend quality time and effort defining the key components of the brand. This definition is characteristically encapsulated by a model that defines how you’d like the brand to be received by the target audience (which in the case of an employer brand is prospective and current employees). This model will provide the starting point for your brand strategy.
There is an implicit danger in this approach however as one needs to be cognizant of the fact that just defining the vision of the brand is not the brand itself. This is merely the way you’d like people to perceive the brand. The real brand lives in people’s everyday experiences of the brand and the perceptions and associations they have in their heads about your organization.
People have a tendency to become cynical of brands which promise a great deal, but under deliver. To bridge the gap between the perception of a brand and the brand reality, many top brand-led companies create two definitions of the brand: one that enshrines the brand as it is currently perceived and experienced, and the other describing how the company would like the brand to be perceived.
There is a delicate balance between these two definitions. On the one hand, organizations should be striving for the latter, but change too much about the former and the brand may lose focus, change too little and the brand may lose relevance.