Employer brand

ikea-job-interviewThe NHS has been much in the news recently following reports into failing hospitals which identified poor standards of care.

This is particularly shocking as we expect our doctors and nurses to have a sense of vocation, an in-built value-set at which “care” should be at the core.

So I started to think about “employer branding” as a way of addressing some of the problems, given that it is such a popular concept amongst the HR community.

What is employer branding?

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘employer branding’ describes how an organisation markets what it has to offer to potential and existing employees. Marketers have developed techniques to help attract customers, communicate with them effectively and maintain their loyalty to a consumer brand. Employer branding involves applying a similar approach to people management.

And again from the CIPD:
“Our Guide to employer branding suggests the following definition of an employer brand: ‘…a set of attributes and qualities – often intangible – that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture’.

And finally from the employer brand consultancy Universum:

“Employer Branding is a logical process through which employers strive for one main goal: to have a strong appeal on their future and current ideal employees.”

Oh dear.

This seems to me to fundamentally miss the point of the branding process.

You cannot separate people strategy from market strategy. We all know that a brand is a promise kept and how you deliver that promise is critical to the consumer experience and loyalty.

“Living the brand” is a cliché, but nonetheless true – a successful organisation must align its brand proposition, core values, customer service, staff training and staff recruitment strategies in the same direction so that the brand promise can be kept.

Your people strategy then becomes clear and the values inherent in your recruitment strategy are taken from the overall brand proposition – there is no separate “employer brand”.

Now, if someone, somewhere, could get the NHS off its bureaucratic merry-go-round and get back to the basics of what the organisation is there to do, who it’s there to serve, what core skills and values are needed to deliver it, and an HR strategy which recruited and trained to those requirements we might start getting somewhere….

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What is value?

There was an interesting discussion today on Linkedin about value.

It was said that one of the biggest challenges for businesses and brands today is the creation and delivery of value to the all-powerful modern consumer – but what is value and how do you define it?

People don’t always act rationally and determining value is an emotional as well as an objective process. If we pay a higher price for something seen to be fashionable, is it that we aren’t being value-conscious, or is it that we “value” being associated with the brand?

So what is value and how do you define it and communicate it? What do we mean when we say companies/products are “adding value” during the manufacturing or distribution process? What price can we put on value?

When I was at Kraft some years ago, it was felt that people bought advertising as much as they bought products, and that a successful campaign could add pennies to the price of the product. Is that adding value?

It seems to me that defining “value” is like trying to define “quality”.

Both are them are very much in the eye of the beholder and good or bad value/quality are down to the mind-set of the individual or decision-making unit involved in the purchase.

Both terms could be defined as “meeting specifications” i.e. that mix of intensity of need, performance, price, brand reputation and availability which underpins most purchase decisions.

One of the most difficult variables in this mix is brand reputation and how much “value/quality perception” is added by the brand into the overall purchase decision.

But “meeting specifications” is a good starting point, even if your reason for buying Gucci sunglasses is to look cool…!

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College marketing network

I spoke recently at the summer conference of the College marketing on “Why strategic marketing?”

It was a great experience, not least because having to provide a rationale for something I’ve lived and breathed for 30 years was quite a challenge!

Feedback from the conference was:

“Very good day. Useful strategic level context.”

“Great conference, picked up some useful ideas to take back to my college and was interested to hear about other areas of business that I don’t deal with.”

“Useful to hear others colleges’ experiences.”

“Really well put together and varied content. Fast paced and interesting.”

I’d like to thank Rachel Smith at CMN for the invitation to speak

Details about the day can be found at:



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