If you’ve ever had an experience with a brand employee that felt so on-brand that they could have personified it… that was employee branding in action.
Building a strong brand today is not surface level work involving logos, fonts and colour palettes.
It even goes beyond the brand strategy techniques of positioning, messaging and storytelling.
To build a brand that is truly aligned, it needs consistency and coherency from top to bottom from inside to out.
Employee branding is a critical cog in the brand machine.
In this article you’ll learn what employee branding is and how to create an employee branding process for your business or your clients.
What Is Employee Branding?
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What Is Employee Branding? (A Definition)
The modern brand has many touch points across the customer journey from digital to voice, to face-to-face interactions and everything in-between.
To achieve an aligned brand, every single touch point requires consistency and coherency so a digital website engagement looks and feels as close to a point-of-sale engagement as possible.
As humans, the more we see consistency, the more we can predict behaviours and ultimately feel safer. This is a primitive survival instinct.
This feeling of safety builds trust in the idea that the brand is what it says it is.
Any inconsistencies can have to opposite affect leading to distrust and damaged reputation. If a person is unpredictable we struggle to trust them. This is also a primitive survival instinct.
Here are eight behaviours that build trust over time.
Employee branding is the aligned on-brand experience through the direct or indirect engagement of brand employees.
It aims to align the brand internally so the employees live by the intended nature, values and purpose of the brand, communicating alignment from top to bottom.
Employee Branding Begins With Employer Branding
When we think about the reputation or perception of a brand, we immediately think of that perception from the consumer’s perspective.
Of course, the brand exists to serve those consumers and without them they’d cease to exist. But brands are perceived in many ways, through many experiences and by many segments of the industry.
A quick look at Glassdoor, the employer review site can uncover gaping holes in a brands desired perception and it’s actual perception amongst employees.
Such a misalignment of a brand message is an indication that a brand is not what it says it is, can quickly spread and grow into damaged reputation and distrust.
For employee branding to be effective, that brand needs a solid employer brand and thriving brand culture. Without it, employees simply won’t believe in the message.
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Employee Branding vs Employer Branding
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve come across the term “Employer Branding”.
In order to appeal to the most suited employees to represent the brand (i.e. become an employee), the brand must paint an appealing picture of what it’s like to work there.
This employee-facing reputation building exercise is called employer branding.
Once the brand has secured the employee’s contract, they then work on educating that employee on “the way of the brand” so they can represent it in the most effective way. This is “Employee Branding”
The fundamental difference between the two, therefore, is that employer branding aims to appeal to the employee while employee branding aims to train the employee to appeal to the consumer and the wider public.
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How Can Employee Branding Enhance Your Brand?
When employer branding is successful and the brand has a strong reputation as a great place to work, demand for an opportunity to work there increases.
This advantage provides a brand with the opportunity to cherry pick the best talent within their industry and an aligned brand would then educate that talent on the brand they’re representing and how it should be represented.
Employees with a sense of fulfilment who are aligned with the brand they are representing can more effectively communicate the brand’s aligned message.
Strong company culture therefore sets the tone for strong employee branding which in turn communicates and aligned and healthy brand.
Employee Branding Examples
Let’s take a look at some examples of brands that display alignment through their employee branding.
Employee Branding Example: Zappos
Leveraging a more focused audience increases the cost effectiveness of marketing as audiences have more attention to offer brands with highly tailored messaging.
The opportunities that exist for cross promoting between brands further increases efficiency and effectiveness.
How Zappos Built Their Employee Brand
Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh understood the value of brand culture. He understood that if he could create a brand that was happy on the inside, they could create a brand experience that was remarkable on the outside.
Every employee is indoctrinated into the brand through four weeks of training with a focus on the brand vision, the 10 core brand values and critically, their customer service.
On the other side of this extensive training, each employee understands what the brand is about, why it exists and more importantly, how to communicate the brand message.
Through their employee branding process, Zappos has become a brand that their audience feels a human connection with.
Employee Branding Example: Salesforce
Salesforce are on the cutting edge of employer branding. A quick look at their linkedin page and you can see what’s going on.
With over 2.5 million followers on Linkedin Salesforce uses the platform as somewhat of a career hub posting job availabilities and insights into the lives of the Salesforce staff.
Salesforce even have a section on the platform called “Life”, highlighting the “Meaningful Work” and “Unparalleled Rewards” of the “Good People” who work there.
This good feeling, satisfaction and fulfilment permeates from Salesforce employee’s not just through Linkedin and promoting the employer brand, but at every single touchpoint from customer service calls to highly engaging social media channels.
How To Create An Employee Branding Processes
So now you can see why employee branding is gaining traction and becoming the modern brand approach, how do you go about creating an employee branding process?
Step 1: Align Employer Branding and Employee Branding
Employee branding works on the idea that the employees within the brand feel connected to it and they communicate what they themselves experience internally.
You can’t expect your employees to communicate the world that your brand believes in “Wellbeing” or “Kindness” is they’re regularly expected to put in overtime or deal with inconsiderate management.
Whatever the brand says it is externally must align with how the brand operates internally.
A strong reputation as a great place to work is the starting point for a strong employee brand.
Step 2: Develop Hiring And Recruitment Program
As the reputation of the brand grows as a great place to work, desire to work there also increases.
As these hopeful prospects come looking for an opportunity, a hiring and recruitment program with an eye on their engagements with the outside world makes al the difference.
Provide exercises and ask questions to better understand who they are and what they believe to identify the right fit for your brand.
Step 3: Educate Your Employees On The Brand
As successful applicants come through your doors, you don’t simply throw them to the front lines.
Before they can represent the brand, they need to understand who the brand is, what it stands for, what it’s values are and how to communicate all of this through front lines engagement.
A strategic brand is built with many elements from Purpose to vision, mission, values, position, personality, tone of voice, language, messaging and story.
Remember Zappos. Their training program is a full 4 weeks of indoctrination into “The Way Of The Brand”.
Identify the key categories of the brand your employees need to adopt and communicate and build a program to make it happen.
Step 4: Incentivise Alignment Initiatives
Many businesses and brands reward their staff for performance related metrics that are often directly related to a sale.
Employee branding works differently. Although “Branding” and “Sales” share similar goals (i.e. to grow the business through customer acquisition), they both go about it in very different ways.
A brand with aligned employees who communicate the brand values and message through their day-to-day engagements won’t produce a tangible ROI you can point to though the impact is unquestionable.
Incentivise your employees with brand alignment and communication goals and grow your brand culture as you do it.
Step 5: Analyse The Effectiveness Through Customer Surveys
Putting in place an employer and employee branding process is great but it’s not enough to just set and forget.
You need to have your finger on the pulse as to what is working and what’s not.
Regular surveys from small segments of your audience will provide you with the feedback you need to understand the effectiveness of your processes.
Structure your questions in a way that the answers will illustrate how they’ve experienced the brand and whether or not that experience is in line with the strategy.
Over To You
The concept of employees aligned with the brand they represent is a no-brainer.
If they feel connected to the values, inspired by the purpose and dedicated to helping the people the brand serves, they’ll communicate that externally.
The more connected, inspired and dedicated people within an organisation, the healthier it is on the inside and the more believable it feels on the outside.
If you want to build an extraordinary brand, start on the inside and build outwards.
Comment below if you agree or to share your thoughts or experiences.
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