Employer brand is both critically important to organizational success and largely misunderstood. Like anything in life our own personal experiences influence what we think of everything, even if what we think is as far from the truth as possible. Case in point is employer branding. During the course of my career I have heard hundreds of eyebrow-raising myths about what employer branding is and is not.
Myth #1 – It’s Too Expensive
If someone said this to me in 1985 I could see a point, but it’s now 2015 and with full accessibility of social media and other cost-effective (FYI most of them are free) online tools this is as far from the truth as you can go. Just walk into your local mobile store and pick up whatever smartphone you prefer, likely for nothing, or close to nothing, sign up for a monthly plan and you’ll have instant access to incredible tools to capture, share and curate content. If you’re one out of 5,000 employees in your organization just think about all of the awesome content that could potentially be floating around cyber-space at any given time. Finally, if you can connect and link all of this awesome content to a simple and easy-to-understand employer brand strategy the company you work for is well on their way to building an incredibly strong brand within the global marketplace as an awesome place to work. Still not convinced? Just ask Zappos, Adidas, GEICO, VMWare, JOEY Restaurants, Shopify, Vend and many more.
Myth #2—“If You Build It They Will Come”
This is like saying once an organization has built a glitzy new careers site, created a new Facebook page and created a fantastic looking Linkedin presence talent will start throwing themselves at you in droves. Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. Sure you may see a spike in short-term web traffic and engagement on your shiny new social profiles but I would argue this is due to a spike in curiosity and interest. This “build it and they will come” approach is not sustainable over the long-term because it misses the biggest ingredient to a strong employer brand, which is ongoing communication and engagement. Building a strong brand takes hard work, dedication and an ongoing commitment to nurture every single relationship within each channel your brand touches. If this ever-so important engagement doesn’t live up to the hype of your shiny new careers site you will have wasted virtually every single penny spent on building it.
Myth #3—Leaders Define the Employer Brand
Wrong, your employees and external audiences do. Leaders can influence a desired employer brand but they do not themselves define it. This is an important myth that negates anything an organization does with their employer brand. A leader can’t force their employees and external audience to feel a certain way about what it’s like to work for their organization. These feelings are natural, and are based on the collective experiences of their target audience. Once a leadership team understands this they can more effectively and successfully build the organization they dream of. Until then they’ll remain at the starting point for the foreseeable future.
Employer branding is meant to be a strategic business imperative that requires the involvement of everyone within an organization. It’s multi-faceted with many channels playing a role in influencing it. It takes time to build a strategy, roll it out and deliver on brand promises. The good news is it can be a lot of fun, and, if done right can play a huge role in building a world-class and engaged organization.