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Your Brand Should Not Only Be External (Part 2)

Cai Yuqian

May 22, 2020

Part II: How to Build a Strong Brand Internally

In the previous article, we discussed why a company’s brand also matters internally, and mentioned several benefits a strong employer brand can bring to an organisation. In this article, we will discuss how you can build an employer brand that ultimately helps you attract and retain talents.

Create an emotional connection with your people

Every marketing professional will tell you the importance of having your mission, vision and values as the backbone of your brand. The same goes for your internal brand because you want consistency between the two.

“A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product.” — Scott Bedbury

A strong employer brand serves to fulfil an employee’s inner passion: people are more motivated by the why, not the what. Connecting with your people emotionally drives them to contribute more and perform better. When you build your employer brand, always keep in mind three key things: company values (which guide people on how to make decisions), company culture (which tells people the way to do things), and company communications (which align and connect everyone together). Having only a well-furnished office space may be regarded as window dressing by your employees if the other elements are missing.

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

Ask yourself: how do you want your people to feel when they wake up/enter the office building on a new working day? Do they feel empowered by the company and cannot wait to contribute to its big audacious goals? Or do they feel drained and meaningless, having no choice but to drag themselves up to be ready for another seemingly endless day? Employers should never neglect the psychological impact the company’s brand brings to its people.

Map out the employer journey

“Customer journey” is an important concept in the marketing world. A customer journey encompasses the complete experience a customer has with your company in order for them to achieve a goal (i.e., purchasing a product/service to fulfil a need). There are abundant resources on the Internet teaching people how to map out the customer journey, and we think it can also be applied to building an employer brand — that is, mapping out an employee journey that includes all the touchpoints where your employees interact with the company: from job hunting, interview experience and onboarding, to become a strong performer and finally leaving the company.

Once you have visualised the employer journey with your company, the next step will be to understand each interaction point in order to identify the barriers that arise from it. These barriers stand in the way of an employee with his/her intended goals. What is the experience like in each stage of the employer journey? If there’s data that describes the performance of each touchpoint, analyse it and find out what causes problems such as an expensive cost per hire, high turnover rate and low rating of your company on Glassdoor.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Inspire them every step of the way

After understanding the pain points, your company should address them and ensure that each employee is inspired by the brand throughout his/her journey with the company. Again, your employer brand should be infused with your company’s mission and vision, and the company values, culture, and communication should also be taken into account. Here, we list out stages that are common across all companies, as well as some important aspects to consider:

Researching and job-hunting

How do you position yourself among other employers in the market? Does your marketing team actively monitor your company’s social media profiles and job reviews portals? Your company website and social media profiles are the primary destinations job candidates visit when researching your firm. Hence, having a consistent, relatable, and positive employer image is important even before an employee joins your company. According to Brandon Hall, author of The True Cost of a Bad Hire, organisations investing in their employer brand are 3x more likely to make a quality hire.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Onboarding

Just like many software product companies have a well-designed onboarding process for its customers, every company should have a thought-through onboarding process for the newcomers. However, it’s not easy to design a great onboarding process, or companies do not pay much attention to onboarding. The State of the American Workplace Report by Gallup suggests that 88% of employees think their employer did a poor job with the onboarding process. Besides the normal bread-and-butter documentations and papers distributed to them, what welcoming activities and support are in place for your new employees to adjust and adapt to the new working environment more easily and effectively? If your team is distributed, the onboarding process becomes even more critical as face-to-face interactions constitute a core element of team bonding. An effective onboarding process should let new employees feel an atmosphere of the company values and culture right away.

Working

Day-to-day work covers the longest period of the employee journey. Employers should create a consistent and culture-aligned experience for their people such that they feel motivated and committed in the work they do.

This concerns with many aspects: the design of the workspace (enclosed office cubicles and open space suggest completely different company cultures), office rules, training and development programmes, recognition and rewarding processes, and coping mechanisms during a tough period like COVID-19 (employees look to leaders and the company to make a difference), just to name a few.

Details matter, so does your employees’ feedback. If you are not sure about your employees’ working experience, conduct an employee survey to give you insights about your employees’ sentiment.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Leaving

This tends to get ignored by many companies, as they think their former staff would be of no value to the company any longer. However, that’s not the case. How employees are treated when they leave the company signals strongly what the employer brand is like. The existence of many job review websites such as Glassdoor sends a strong message to all employers: people do talk about your employer brand even after they have left. Nearly 60% of candidates have had a poor candidate experience and 72% of them shared that experience either online or with someone directly.

Companies with a strong employer brand take care of its people even as they are leaving. The COVID-19 crisis has seen many layoffs happening in many companies, including Airbnb. Different from the detached, cold, and quick way of telling people they are laid off, Airbnb took a transparent and compassionate approach, with the company’s co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky’s posting a note to the whole company as well as the public:

“Today, I must confirm that we are reducing the size of the Airbnb workforce. For a company like us whose mission is centered around belonging, this is incredibly difficult to confront, and it will be even harder for those who have to leave Airbnb. I am going to share as many details as I can on how I arrived at this decision, what we are doing for those leaving, and what will happen next.”

Following that, he explained the details of how the decision was made, how reductions would happen, and what is the support offered to those who would be leaving, which includes a public-facing Alumni Talent Directory and an Alumni Placement Team dedicated to helping the former staff land another job.

Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

Strategic organisations also know that maintaining a corporate alumni network helps them recruit the best talent. Thus, many of them have an alumni programme for former staff to keep in touch, share insights, and even help them land another job — that’s the power of networks. For example, McKinsey has an online database of more than 37,000 former consultants. It’s also a win for the consulting firm, as it’s better able to serve the needs of current clients through tapping on the knowledge of its former staff.

We hope that this two-part series can help to get an important point across: it’s more important than ever to look at your brand — both externally and internally. A business exists to satisfy its customers’ needs, but in order to do that, it needs a strong team behind to power it. At the end of the day, people need a compelling “why” to believe in their decision to either purchase a product and become a loyal fan, or join a company and become a top team player.

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