• Transform magazine
  • May 24, 2019

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Brand new thinking: Employer brand delivery

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Phil Owers, managing director, Papirfly

Employer brand delivery is the engine room of employer brand strategy. It’s in the delivery that all of the meetings, research, creative and design come to life. At Papirfly we are at the sharp end of employer brand delivery and I thought I’d share some thoughts about key delivery themes that experience tells us make the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Just as a clearly defined corporate brand outlines the organisation’s mission, culture, vision and values, the employer brand should reflect these too but with a subtle difference. The focus of the brand messages is different, and as a result the messaging changes accordingly. Many still argue that employer brand is a mere function of corporate brand but I disagree. Rather than a parent-child relationship, it is healthier to think of them as dancing partners, one leading, one following, but both still contributing individually to the overall experience.

Employer brand delivery definitely means consistency at every touch point, but beyond that there is an influencing element that has an impact far beyond great visuals, slick videos and compelling proposition; that is authenticity. I think most employees accept there is occasionally a gap between the presentation of an organisation and reality. But the emergence of social media has meant those gaps will be identified and highlighted, and that will be beyond your control. All communications must have authenticity as the primary driver, anything else will just leave you exposed to ridicule or a PR nightmare. It is said consistency is king, if so authenticity is the ace up your sleeve.

If we live by the axiom, ‘Identity is a local issue,’ then there is a balance to be found between the goals of the global employer brand and the need for local identity.

Naturally global brand consistency needs to be at the very heart of brand delivery, but wiggle room must be there for the local markets to reflect the authentic employer brand in every country.

Practically, that means deciding which parts of the employer brand are fundamental and locked in place, like logo, fonts, colour palette. The parts up for negotiation become where the local market identity is delivered, for example images, content and language. Empower local market users to take control of the market-dependant elements. Allow the shaping of a local market identity, while still retaining control of the integrity and activation of the brand as a whole. This is the key to first-rate employer brand delivery.

Never has a concept crossed so many departmental lines as employer branding. Traditionally the responsibility has fallen on a blend of HR and marketing with corporate comms thrown in, but the impact of the employer brand is felt across every department.

Thus, it makes perfect sense to bring the HR, marketing and communication functions much closer together, for each to recognise and complement the other’s expertise without defining lines between departments. Ideally, a company will develop and assign a dedicated ‘super team’ with the right strengths to devise and deliver a compelling employer brand strategy.

Employer brand is a niche offering, yes it is influenced by the corporate and product brands, but it needs to be its own entity in order to influence the career choices of target talent. Corporate and product brands are just not going to achieve that, and neither should they, that is not their function. I’d recommend to be as highly niched as possible ̧ but have multiple niches where necessary. It doesn’t really matter how you chose your niche, what’s important is the talent in the niche recognise you are communicating directly with them.LinkedIn reports that only 25% of employees are actively seeking a new role. With such a high percentage of passive job seekers, companies have an amazing opportunity to use social and professional networks and brand ambassadors to articulate their employer brands, making it possible to hire talented individuals who are otherwise unobtainable.

Phil Owers at Papirfly is moderating a panel discussion on creating an employer brand that works internally and externally at the Transform conference. Speakers on the discussion are Andrew Farmer, employer brand manager, IHG and Neil Daly, employer brand manager, EDF. To see more about the conference click here.