‘It’s your employer brand that drives your brand, not the other way around’
Not strictly true if you are Nike, Apple, Porsche, or Mulberry, whose unquestioning fans obligingly fall line behind the products they covet as a means of demonstrating global savvy and contemporary style. And in so doing sustain and even enhance the brand, its supposed values and ethos. And assume that the company has to be a great place to work – just because its products are so cool and ‘make me feel and look good’.
But it absolutely IS true if your organisation is not led by a high profile product, range of products or brand with which the above people have been encouraged to identify and believe in.
What about companies that sell sand and bricks?
Or those that develop chemicals for use in other products – invisible things that no one will covet due to lack of display or ‘brand’ value?
Or companies that produce or package food products which on their own, lack any form of ‘must have’ appeal but are essential ingredients for almost every meal?
The likes of Dyson have been very clever about this. They’ve turned something as mundane and unglamorous as a floor cleaner into something that every fashion-conscious thirty-something absolutely must have. Why? To ensure that every aspect of their life, even the boring bits, is supported by the latest item whose identity helps create and sustain their own. (Do they really care about all those purple wizzy cyclone things that enable it to pick up more dirt and dead flies than any other sweeper? Particularly when they’ve all got highly polished wooden floors that are better serviced with a brush…)
Lesser known organisations with names that are largely invisible to the avid consumer of stuff, and products that are of no interest until they become essential, absolutely have to be led by the employer brand. It is that which determines how the organisation communicates to all its audiences, all the time, not just its employees. How its employees behave and the way in which they deliver to their customer (for every organisation has customers somewhere) will determine, at the very least, whether or not that business can survive and, at best, whether it can flourish. Yes, price, delivery capability, product range and quality all come into it, but over and above all of that it is the people that make the difference because the people are the brand… people really do make the difference and create the identity.
So let’s not be under any illusions about that.
If you don’t know your people and you are not clear on what they think about you as an organisation and as an employer, your ‘employer brand’ will be far removed from what you believe it to be and any attempts at ‘employer branding’ (ie: badges, taglines and aspirational statements) will be little more than myth. Lucky Nike, Apple, Google etc; their brand identity encourages an ongoing sea of enthusiasm – free marketing – that puts those organisations at the top of some pretty suspect employer league tables.
Others don’t have it so easy – they have to do it for real.