The marketing world is abuzz about “branding.” You know you need to define your brand to let your customers know who you are and what to expect from you.
“A company’s brand is the illicit promise made to customers,” says Tim Gibbons president of Level2 Communications, a Tampa-based brand communications and new media marketing company. “Brand represents every facet and dimension of who a company is in the minds of its customers.”
In the quest for talent, you’ll need to convince the best and brightest why they should come work for you. If you have a poor workplace brand image, you could struggle to collect enough applications. But if you separate yourself as an employer of choice, you’ll have the ability to pick and choose exactly whom you want to fill each role. You have the choice invest in a great brand image now or struggle to meet your human resource needs later.
Smart Business asked Gibbons how businesses can craft brands that support their work force objectives.
Why is having a brand strategy important?
A brand strategy is important because a brand is what differentiates one company’s products and services from another’s in the minds of customers and employees. Basically, brand is what separates a company from the rest of the pack and gives prospective customers a compelling reason, or set of reasons, to choose their brand over a competitor’s brand.
Your company’s brand should clearly communicate to prospective buyers and employees not only what products and services you offer but also how you deliver those products and services. Job seekers will draw answers to these types of questions from your brand: Do you have a fun and creative atmosphere? Do you value work-life balance? Do you reward employees for outstanding performance?
Having a strategy helps you craft a consistent message that communicates what you want people to think about you. This in turn helps ensure that you attract employees that will fit in with your company’s culture and values.
What determines a company’s brand?
It's important to know that companies don't ‘own’ their brand image their customers own it. Companies can only develop a brand identity strategy, and then hopefully execute an effective implementation of that strategy. But ultimately, the brand image and its relative perceived value are in the individual and collective perspectives of customers.
That means, don’t ask yourself about your brand. Ask customers, job seekers, and other key groups of individuals what comes to their minds when they think of your company. You may believe you’re sending one message, and people outside your company may receive a completely different one. Marketing and work force development professionals can help you come up with techniques for discovering how people truly perceive your business.
How can companies develop and implement a new brand?
Companies must first fully and deeply understand who their primary customer is and what that individual needs and wants from their company. Then develop a strategy for delivering on those needs and wants in better, more resonating ways than their competitors.
To have a demonstrably different ‘selling’ message, businesses must really understand their competitors. This critical knowledge allows them to create a message that better speaks to their customers. Flashy advertising only works if the message behind it meets a client need. And if flashy advertising doesn’t appeal to the ideal customer or employee, it will actually push away the people you want to attract.
How can work force organizations help with this process?
Today, there is heavy competition for great talent. Human capital is often the tipping point between being an average and a good company, and a good and great company. In this market, many companies compete for human resources as aggressively as they do for new customers. It's important that companies view potential employees as a key audience. They need to realize that effectively building and communicating their brand can have a huge impact on a job candidate’s choice of employer. Brand sells far more than just a product or service; brand sells a company in the eyes of the work force. Local work force organizations can help integrate brand strategy as part of the overall recruitment strategies to compete for the most valuable employees. Remember that one of the first things people share with one another is where they work. A strong brand will speak to your employees now and to future recruits. Employees who feel great about where they work will be your best recruitment tool for attracting and retaining future leaders.
TIM GIBBONS, president of Level2 Communications, works with Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance on brand strategy. Reach him at (813) 956-8950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.