It’s continually talking to me. It evokes me. It promises me a better way. It appeals to me emotionally and spiritually. It’s not until I stop and think about it that I realise I’m being seduced. By who? A brand.
Tracking me everywhere I go it wants to be my best buddy. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company is right when he points out that “a brand has to feel like a friend”.
But from my perspective, I’ve got enough friends and really don’t need any more. Which means brands have to work hard to get through to me. And indeed they do - crafted messages stalk me, informing me how much better my life would be if only I’d trust them and allow them into my world. I can’t visit the gents these days without being exposed to a targeted message above a hand dryer.
Why is it then that the world of recruitment has only recently ‘woken up and smelt the coffee’ in relation to employment branding? Sure, many companies talk a good game and pretend that they have an employer brand. But in reality, there’s a big difference between running a campaign of advertisements that have the same strap- line, and a carefully thought out creative strategy based on research. Such an investment ensures that your resourcing communications follow one common theme which is targeted and predominantly based on the thoughts of talent that matters - your employees and potential candidates.
It’s important not to underestimate how vital brands are about to become. Blue- chips are starting to admit there are little differences between themselves and their nearest competitors, which means selling their culture and their beliefs through their brand is becoming ever more important.
The deciding factor of how good your employer brand is, depends on how well your business competes in the ‘talent war’. It may also force the HR Director without an employer brand to speak of, to reach for the Valium!
But it is time to realise that gone are the days when you could just place an ad in the press and expect the guru of your dreams to strut through the door with industry- leading solutions. Placing ads willy- nilly does about as much for your brand as the Dome has done for British tourism. What’s more, how do you expect to force the candidate you’re looking for to leave the security of their current job, when the first piece of contact you have with them is a quarter page in the local freesheet asking if they would like to, ‘Make the right move? ’
Brand awareness has to play as important a role in your creative strategy as the message targeting a particular skill set. You don’t become an ‘employer of choice’ by allowing a line manager to write their own headlines.
If forecasts come true, HR teams will need to reach for the tin hat, dig in and put together a pincer movement on the competition just to find junior recruits.
It may well be a worrying thought, but the candidate rules and you have to be targeted, consistent with your message and trusted like a friend if you’re to attract and retain the experts your business needs to succeed. As Karl- Heinz Kalbfell, Global Head of Brand and Product Strategy for BMW Group put it, “We will want brands which offer fun, comfort, satisfaction; we won’t just want to work like hell ”.
So come on, you know how many businesses are enticing the same talent that you are after. It’s time to make sure your employer brand is defined, attractive and extremely seductive.