If you’ve been following us for a while, you may know that we’ve been working alongside R&D, a group of independently owned (and minded) agencies from across the full spectrum of marketing expertise. Within our network, you’ll find digital expertise, behavioural scientists, internal comms experts and people who are just amazing at strategic brand thinking.
The great thing about the group is the breadth of thought, the energy around brand thinking. Tonic’s the only agency that puts people at the heart of the brand, rather than product or service, and that’s why we’re a match made in brand heaven.
For us, one of the main benefits is the exposure to how brands are thinking outside of recruitment, retention and performance. It allows us to think about how employer brands could make massive strides forward. It also allows us first-hand insight into how infrequently marketing thinks about employer brand, but that’s a different story. It allows us to influence the brand conversation from the inside out.
One of the thoughts we contributed to the group last autumn was the observation that not all brands had performed equally during the pandemic. Some had suffered terribly, some had succeeded and others had trod water. It was clear also that those brands that had performed less well, had less good results as businesses, and that those who had performed well had succeeded.
No doubt, you’ll have your own examples of organisations who are more or less attractive now than they were. Perhaps they treated their customers well, perhaps they didn't? Perhaps they treated their people with care and attention, perhaps they ignored them. Perhaps they profiteered. Perhaps they did the best they could. Perhaps they froze and management failed to make any decisions.
Which one are you? We’ve written elsewhere about the three groups EB’s have fallen in to, but perhaps the step is to evaluate what has happened to your EB since the start of 2020; are you in a worse place? A better place? Pretty much the same? Is that good enough, and what can you do about it?
In our opinion, it's now time - the perfect time, perhaps the last chance before the economics speed up - to take a clear-eyed view of the effect of the last year-and-a-bit on your people, and how they feel about working for you? Many indicators and commentators suggest that we’re teetering on the brink of the biggest economic boom since 1948 so it’s time to be proactive about employer brand management - rather than waiting to react beyond the moment as the recovery runs away - and so do your people.
The critical question is perhaps how your brand can tap into the change in candidate expectation and the power of authentic brand purpose to provide something that is fundamentally different or better than before. How can you leap from good enough to best?
For employer brands, this means identifying how they can lead with proactivity. Working out how you can use your influence, behaviours, resources and capabilities under the umbrella of a big idea to navigate the phases and roadmap of recovery.
To work out how you can bring that idea to life through the employee value proposition (offer, benefits, L&D etc) and the candidate experience (touch-points and interactions) as well as your marketing campaigns. This will unite people inside and outside of the brand through shared purpose. Get this right and you’ll benefit from brand preference, relevance, loyalty and advocacy far into the future.
How do you make this happen? Alongside our partners in R&D, we think that there are six steps, run in a series, that will help develop thinking and planning:
1. Figure out what your leap is. What barriers do you need to overcome, how can you pivot and around what, and how can you use momentum to gain a competitive advantage?
2. Out of the blocks thinking. Set out a proactive perspective for what you can do to make something fundamentally different or better than it was before. Define the big, organising idea that will drive narrative and action. Ideally, this is an ongoing ambition for your employer brand - years ahead, declared today.
3. Input/Output. The flywheel is driven by what customers value today and tomorrow. Undertake an analysis of brand tracking data that identifies the drivers of preference, choice and use today.
4. Set the Mood. Creating a sense of optimism and positive mood is a key driver of relevance, and alignment both inside and outside your organisation.
5. Candidate experience. How people experience your branding, marketing, products and services is indivisible now. And these experiences form the underlying principles of the employer brand.
6. The Marketing Flywheel – the brand roadmap: what are the actions we can take to give the brand real energy and relevance - in offerings, interactions, communications - set around a central narrative that brings the organising idea to life?
We use this framework to inspire confidence, to define the mood for your brand, perhaps even to deliver fame and glory, but more than anything to identify what your people will value in the near future, and further ahead.
Whatever’s happened to your employer brand since the spring of 2020, the time is running out to repair, gain or maintain your employer brand position. If you’d like to find out more - or if we can help - find a time to talk with us here.