There is no doubt about the importance of having a strong brand; a brand that is well known, that tells a strong story, that is relevant and that will ultimately be counted among the brands that target buyers will perceive as an alternative to buying. Higher spending on brand development, promotion, tracking and evaluation is common for large companies and is becoming increasingly important for medium and small companies as well. A brand should thereby stand out from its market and maximize its brand value.
Over the past decade, with the Millennial generation joining the company’s purchasing teams, brands have evolved to position themselves clearly beyond their products and traditions. People have come to appreciate brand history; what it stands for, what position it occupies and what level of responsibility it assumes for the environment and society, especially where it has a significant influence on it (e.g. energy, chemicals, food). This has never been more evident than it is today.
The behavior of companies has become visible in their responses to the COVID pandemic, and this will undoubtedly have an impact on future brand perception, not only for customers but also for employees and future employees. Reputations could be built up and destroyed by measures taken during this difficult time, which in turn can influence the brand’s image in the longer term.
Attention to the employer brand
While a lot of attention is paid to the brand by the external stakeholder, the situation is different with the internal stakeholder. Figuratively speaking, he is the stepchild who pays little attention to the employer brand. It is often overlooked that this could become a brand that existing employees are proud of. A brand that promotes loyalty and commitment, attracts future employees and makes them strive to become part of the company.
It is part of the everyday business of a company to focus its strategic attention on the effectiveness and performance of its brand in order to increase customer loyalty and ultimately purchasing power. However, it is less common to see the brand as a way to attract, hire, and retain skilled employees. Jenni Field, President of the Institute for Public Relations, says …
“You are starting to pay more attention to [the employer brand] as it has been recognized that you need to focus more on the people. This was neglected for years. This topic is not new. It is no longer in its infancy, but it is also not yet fully developed ”.
There are sufficient studies on the existing relationship between employees who are both convinced of the brand and committed to the company and good business development. It is therefore surprising that few companies have an existing employer brand development and measurement program in place. What is meant is a program that, unlike the satisfaction measurement, does not focus on employee performance and loyalty to the workplace, but is linked to the external brand measurement program.
Time to act?
A significant number of large companies are currently unable to go about their day-to-day business. Activities are stopped due to state regulations, employees work from home, are sent on short-time work, are on leave or are supported by the state. This could therefore be a good time to look into how the brand is perceived as an employer.
A deeper understanding of the brand as an employer and not as a provider of products and services will enable the company to align its branding strategy with its internal communication strategy. This also includes the question of how the brand message is integrated into all activities related to the organization, particularly in terms of recruiting, development and training, employee empowerment and the way in which employee performance is recognized.
Survey of current and future employees
When you hear people talk about their work and their employer, it is most impressive when they are impressed by their own employer; if they express a passion not only for their work but also for the employer and are proud to be employees of this brand.
It leaves a strong impression that can make you enjoy working for this company yourself.
So if we seek the opinion of employees rather than just focusing on performance in terms of brand attributes and associations, we need to understand what exactly they would say and do if asked about their employer brand. This is expressed on 4 levels: the functional, the behavioral, the emotional and the passionate level.
The more positive the comments are at the top of the triangle, the stronger the employer brand. Conversely, negative comments indicate a bad employer brand.
Limiting comments to the lower part of the triangle: the more likely it is that the employer has a weak and insignificant brand.
The different levels relate to answers related to the level of experience with the brand. The table below gives some indications of the questions that can be answered in the respective categories.
|Functional||What is your company doing?
What is it about?
|Behavioral||What do you do for a living?
How do you work?
What’s your contribution?
|Emotionally||How does it feel to work for BRAND X?
How are you valued?
|Passion||What do you like about working for BRAND X?
What would you miss if you left the company?
Make a start …
It should be taken into account to what extent the survey should take place. Who should be included – current employees, new employees, recently retired and terminated employees, job applicants? Most companies will start with existing employees, not least because of the ease of access.
Likewise, there is no shortage of methods by which existing staff can be interviewed; digital media are leading, as social distancing measures limit direct access to face-to-face methods such as focus groups and individual interviews. Workshops can be conducted online with good results. Online surveys, online focus groups and chat platforms are used every day and are very easily accessible, especially for employees who work from home.
Regardless of which methods are used, the freedom of the respondents to answer confidently and anonymously, openly and honestly must be taken into account, especially when qualitative methods with a small sample size are used. For this reason, external independent research institutes can be commissioned to carry out the survey.
Realize the benefits in a post-covid business world
A positive employer brand is critical for companies to attract the most talented and capable employees. Recruiting may not be high on the agenda after the Covid pandemic. The main advantage of a positive employer brand, however, is its ability to engage and empower employees to move the organization forward and respond to the challenges the Covid pandemic has brought for companies. This challenge is to reorganize in a changed society.
The current era is an opportunity for companies to better understand the brand experience of employees and ensure that it aligns with the experiences of customers. Without this congruence, delivering a compelling and positive customer brand experience will always be in question.