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Employer Branding: The latest fad?


For those of you able to access the New York Times website (great site once you’re registered), a recent article on Brand Loyalty Among Employees extols the virtues of using brand loyalty as a means of retaining employees in times of recruitment difficulties.

To quote the article

Instead, many companies are undertaking large-scale campaigns to identify their corporate culture and to impress it upon the minds of those who work — or might one day work — for them. Their efforts are aimed at creating a brand message for employees, just as they create one for consumers; not surprisingly, the phenomenon has come to be known among many as employer branding.

Now the purpose is to recruit and to retain and to have employees embody and exemplify the brand promise to the ultimate consumer

Now, I may be getting long in the tooth, but it does strike me a little that this is pretty similar to having employees believe in high quality customer service.

It worries me a little that marketing people and PR people, once an internal, advisory, staff position, has become much more a core line function and spreading influence across the organisation. I can hear the cries of marketers already saying that by definition their role is cross-functional, permeating the organisation.

I just have this niggling suspicion that we’re seeing a modern tendency for marketing and PR functions to have a disproportionate influence on corporate strategy. Let’s face it marketing and PR activity is primarily measured in terms of expenditure not revenue.

The message from these folks seems simple enough, make your staff feel good about promoting the company culture and extra business will flow. The rationale continues that making people feel good about the company is a marketing and PR function that an Employer Branding campaign is the forthcoming corporate saviour.

Some salient points are conveniently put on the back burner though.

  • Revenue is, and always will be more important than expenditure for organisations. It represents the ‘now of business’ rather than the ‘might be in the future’.

  • Branding is about positioning suppliers of goods and services in the consumers mind.

  • Customers buy from three motives:
    • recency,
    • frequency and
    • potency.
    In other words the object of purchase has been in the mind of the consumer recently, or is in the mind frequently, or has a strong image in the mind.

    How do you create these mental ghosts of the product or service? Well, yes! You need a good value product with high quality service – and that includes your customer care programme!

Let the marketing and PR folk concentrate on the consumer, and let the ‘people’ people in HR and Development work with the employees!

One Response

  1. Is it really that latest fad?
    I think the writer is behind the times questionning if employer branding is the latest fad. I think many progressive organisations have espoused the concept of employer branding without even knowing it. Surely culture is really employer branding, and what successful organisation has managed to have a different set of values internally to those marketed externally. People are people whether they are inside or outside the organisation, if PR and marketeers are able to help an organisation communicate effectively internally – why not use them? It is all too easy for HR to say that only they have the key to how people think at work. Why not use marketing skills internally – and why not use HR in marketing certain aspects of the business externally – no one function has a monopoly on certain skill sets!

    Any feedback on this?

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