Why you need to live your brand: 4 tips for employers
David Partington, Brand Strategist at our office in Amsterdam was asked to write an article about Employer Branding for Dutch magazine Fonk. Here’s the full article about “Why you need to live your brand”, including some tips for success!
In 2011 a directory and media sales company in California announced a recruitment drive. Nothing special you might think. It wasn’t heavily publicised, nor was the package surprisingly generous. But in the first week alone, over 75,000 people applied. So what happened?
It was called Google. A business that has regularly ranked as one of the best places to work. Now that’s not to say that every company should have a conference bike, ice cream store or a cable car as a meeting room. But we all want to be inspired and engaged by the places we work. A recent survey by USA Today found that trust, pride and camaraderie were more important to most people than salary.
What’s more, creating the right culture is not just good for recruitment. Google knows that their biggest asset is knowledge and you can’t cultivate interesting people by keeping them in beige cubicles. Their way of working is part of their strategy for productivity. And it works, the average profit per employee is estimated to be $336,297 per annum.
So what can we learn from this? The first thing we need to realise is that culture is not something random. Buying a few bean bags and calling it a ‘break out zone’, won’t change the way you work. It has to be rooted in something you believe – and this is where knowing what your brand stands for is important. It’s your belief, philosophy and way of doing things. Done properly it’s about actions and not words. Done badly, it’s just type on a page. The truth is, if your brand lives on paper (however beautifully written, well crafted and eloquently sold by a well heeled consultant) – you’ve failed.
Take for example Orange. Back in 1994, they believed technology was over complicated and confusing – so they set about changing it. Their idea wasn’t just an advertising campaign, it was lived and breathed by everyone who worked there. Boardroom attire was jeans and t-shirt and big pow wow meetings were held at the ping pong table. It was a revolution in telecoms that started with the people who worked there. And within two years they became the youngest company to enter the UK FTSE 100, with a valuation of £2.4 billion. What Orange did was build a brand from the inside out. Whereas most companies try to build a brand from the outside in.
So what are the tips for success?
1. Have a cause. People won’t follow you unless you stand for something – and most companies have long forgotten what they set out to achieve. Consider that over 90% of CEO’s come from an accountancy background. It is then no surprise that when you ask them what the business stands for, you’ll likely get a financial ambition. The trouble is, this doesn’t inspire people. The Dalai Lama summed this up when he said “to state that the role of business is to make profit makes as much sense as to say that the role of a person is to eat or breathe. If a company loses money it dies, as does a person without food, but does that mean that the purpose of life is eating”? The first thing that any company should do is believe in something. Orange believe in ‘optimism’. And it comes through in everything they do, from how they work to the way they communicate. They even publish an internal newspaper called the Optimist that only tells good news. To them, the future is bright.
2. Forget everything you’ve been told about business. From an early age we’re filled with bad advice like “work is serious” and “don’t mix business with pleasure”. The truth is, work should be fun.
3. Recognise that not everything in life can be measured for financial remuneration. I dread the ROI question. I dread it because it says something about a companies commitment to its people. And I dread it because it’s almost impossible to answer. If I spend x on an internal engagement, how much will that improve the profitability of my business? Gallup in the US estimate that employee disengagement costs the economy $300 billion annually. But every company is different.
4. Don’t expect a quick fix. Most internal engagement projects lose momentum after 12 months. Make it a long term strategy. Keep listening, keep responding and empower employees to take ownership of it. Remember a culture is easy to kill and hard to build. But done well it can be one of the most powerful assets your business has.
David Partington, Brand Strategist at Design Bridge.
This year Design Bridge will be trying to raise the debate on internal engagement. As part of this we’re going to be inviting a number of businesses to give us their views on the opportunities and pitfalls. So if you would like to know more or get involved, call us on +31 (0)20 520 6030.
In: Brand communications, Brand Experience, Brand Strategy, Careers, Corporate Identity, Employer Branding, Insights, News, Recruitment, Viewpoints · Tags: Culture, Employer branding, Fonk, Internal Engagement, ROI, tips