Human Resources Today

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master brand


Why Employer Brands Need Personal Brands

When companies think employer brand, they’re thinking big picture. They start by trying to get a sense of their reputation in the marketplace. What do job seekers think about their employment opportunities and the employment experience? Most employers look for a story to create (and hint, it’s usually the one they want to tell.) But Oscar Wilde once said “society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.”  He’s right. That’s the real employer brand story.It’s the story of the thousands of individuals that are your workforce. It’s their commonalities, the values they reinforce together, the shared goals.

It’s also about self-selection—it’s enabling those individuals to ensure they share the same vision as the company does. And that’s where personal brand comes in. As talent acquisition and human resource leaders we’re so focused on the amalgamation of our employees it’s easy to forget they’re individuals.

So maybe we should start thinking about personal brands and employer brands together? At the Fall ERE Expo I’ll be giving a workshop on just this topic: the connection linking an organization’s master and employer brand and each employee’s personal brand.

It may seem hard to connect personal and employer brands. After all, personal brand is always seen as individual—how one person gets ahead, how one person defines his reputation. The company’s role is to support that through the performance review—guidance on how the employee can and should get ahead and correct areas of development. It should be so much more than that.

Great employer brand engagements always start with the individual—the employee. They break the workforce apart to find out what makes it tick only to tie the themes back together to help tell the brand story. Because each employee has to understand the role they play in supporting a consistent employer brand message, if the themes accurately reflect who they are, it’s not hard to be a brand ambassador.

However, employees also have to find a place for their own unique talents and experience: their personal brand. And that’s more than a performance conversation. It’s teaching employees how to become self-aware and then what to do exactly with that self-awareness. It’s helping them to balance the “what do I have to offer” with the “what I want in return.”* That becomes a litmus test for brand ambassadorship. When employees feel like they’re offering more than their getting or getting more but not using their talents, they won’t be advocates.

If you’re interested in how personal brands are developed—and what role they play in the employer brand, I hope you’ll join me for Fall ERE Expo.  There’s new territory to be discovered here—let’s do it together.

*The "what do I have to offer" and "what I want in return" are from my Kaleidoscope Career Model(C) from The Right Job, Right Now (St. Martin's Press, 2007).



45 Seconds to a Great Employer Brand

Today, my former team at Marriott International won "Best Employer Brand" at the Recruiting Excellence Awards--part of ERE Expo. (Congrats team!) The awards are a great way to keep tabs on what's happening in talent acquisition and recruiting and what might work for you. It's conference season after all: "more best practices, please." At the kickoff of the last Recruiting Innovation Summit, I put up a slide that said "don't replicate what you learned today." Then I did a mini-case study of My Marriott Hotel(TM), the social recruiting game I worked on while I was there. But don't copy it. Don't copy anything you see actually. Think bigger picture. What are the lessons you can take away from a conference? What can you tell your boss when you return in 45 seconds to prove it was worthwhile?

Hmm. 45 seconds. I've never said anything in 45 seconds or les. But I love a challenge....

Let's say you're rethinking your employer brand. You know it needs work but you don't know where to start? Here's 45 seconds of boss-worthy strategy you can take away to spur getting started.

1) Know your master brand first.

If you don't have a relationship with your CMO or marketing, get one. Learn their craft and the ins and outs of your master brand. You can't create or evolve an employer brand unless you know how it fits into your larger master or consumer brand. Plus you'll need a good partnership with marketing to make your employer brand work.

2) It's employer brand, not employment brand.

Sure, the brand is about the employment experience. But you're choosing to work for an employer and you might have multiple employment experiences within the context of one employer. Focus on the bigger picture first (and #1) and then connect to the actual process of employment.

3) Strive for alignment.

Global company, employer brand created and only used in North America? Nope, won't work. You've got to have a common thread of alignment first, from master brand to employer brand to employment experience. Then, you can begin to differentiate by geography, discipline and level. But align first.

4) Bring in tools and execute last.

Don't start your brand with product creation. That's like producing a commercial for cereal before you know what it tastes like. If you're in the early stages of building an employer brand, you shouldn't be talking to execution, technology, or social media vendors. Yet. They'll be more effective partners if you have a strategy in place first.

There 45 seconds to get you started. Now use the best practices to get inspired.