How to be Your Brand, on Purpose
“What you do, do it well. Do it well so when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others, and show them how well you do what you do.”
I love the work that I do, however, if someone had asked me over 20 years ago what career I wanted to do when I grew up, I doubt I would have said employer branding. Back then I’d just been told that the scores for the ‘test’ I’d just taken indicated that I was best suited to a career in law or as a florist…enough said there. In 1996, employer branding didn’t exist, yet today it’s increasingly becoming one of the most important parts of any organisation’s talent strategy.
The digital revolution has driven a culture of convenience that wasn’t there just 10 years ago, and our expectations of services are therefore higher than they’ve ever been before. The moments where ‘consumers’ meet your brand have increasingly become more and more important. We’re living in the age of the ‘experience economy’ where what people know, or experience, when it comes to your brand will shape their desire to engage or disengage further. And if you were asking yourself the question ‘why we need employer branding’ then I’ve just answered your question.
British workers will spend an average of 3,515 full days at work over the course of their lifetime (accountancyage.com) and in my opinion that’s too long to spend your time doing something that you don’t enjoy, and that’s why employer branding has become so important. True, it can help to increase the quality of your candidate pool, lower your cost per hire, increase the number of job offer accepts, aid retention and even add to your bottom line if your vision goes that far (and it should!) – but for me the most important ‘value add’ offered by employer branding is helping others to find the right fit for them, where their skills are well matched and they are able to work passionately towards a purpose.
Here I share 3 ways in which you can ensure your employer brand connects with, engages and inspires the next generation of your workforce to hit ‘apply’.
1 .Build an Authentic Employer Brand
“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
Building trust is an important part on the quest towards creating an influential employer brand that is memorable, and which drives candidates towards the action of applying to join you. After all, 87% of ‘customers’ want a meaningful relationship with brands (McVoy, 2018). As a result it’s important to be authentic, the importance of which when it comes to the role that employer branding plays in bringing to life an organisation's EVP should never be overlooked. Trust is at an all-time low globally, against the rise and popularity of peer-to-peer recommendations. As a result it’s no longer what you do, but how you do it that matters the most. A positive, bold attitude where risks are taken has become an important part of change. Emotive brands which invite their audience to collaborate and be ‘part of something’ are winning the race. The race to thrive, rather than survive. I’ve recently been enjoying reading the best-seller from Michelle Obama ‘Becoming’ where she makes the observation about her time standing by the side of the last POTUS Barack, worrying about the way the world perceived him, that encapsulated my thoughts around authenticity perfectly: ‘Are you what you appear to be? Do I trust you or not?’
Authenticity adds value and goes beyond a transactional approach when it comes to engaging your audience in early careers – Generation Z do not trust easily. Exploitative, selfish, arrogant, greedy, cheating, untrustworthy. Just a few of the words that have been used to describe corporates today. Emotive brands are challenging the stereotypes being thrust upon them by harnessing the power of storytelling – explaining to their audiences why their brand exists, driving a desire from them to ‘dig deeper’ and find out more. But before you get to that point it’s important to understand the language they are speaking – do not underestimate ‘the gap’.
2. Mind The Gap
“If you acknowledge that you will never catch up by being the same, make a list of ways you can catch up by being different”
The emotional connection you seek with your audience, in order to build trust will rely on your ability to have a solid understanding to who you are trying to speak to, and more importantly why. Just because you want to speak, it doesn’t mean that somebody is ready to listen. To make the right connection you need to start thinking about what you offer that nobody else does. Who are you aiming to serve. Speak to them. Pinpoint their pains, triggers. The things that they need help with in order for them to do things differently. Make it entertaining, and easily consumable too. Not so easy when the number of platforms on which one can have a voice appears to be growing every day. If this is the case then the final part of the puzzle becomes the importance of being consistent in your approach.
3. Be Consistent
“When you say three things, you say nothing”
Attention spans are shorter than they have ever been before. For Gen Z you have just 8 seconds to stop them in their tracks; down 4 seconds from their predecessors the Millennials. Couple that with the reality of a rising apathy towards brands in general (74% of consumers wouldn’t mind if a brand fell off the face of the earth) and it’s become important to have brand messages that not only build affinity but which also deliver a clear message, consistently to help encourage your target audience to dig deeper, regardless of where the initial interaction with your employer brand started. Your ability to deliver upon and protect your messages as they spread are key to maintaining brand clarity and will add or detract from the overall strength of your brand advocacy. 95% of Gen Z will share their experience, good or bad, this can have a real tangible impact to the success of your campaigns and your bottom line. The smartest brands have realised this and are already tailoring their core messages to suit the different platforms upon which they are delivered.
Are you Gen Z ready?
Originally published as part of the Springpod ebook entitled ‘How to attract, engage and hire Generation Z available to download here.