The 3 Rs of a Great Employer Brand
For all the Ponzi schemes and absolute debauchery that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street is involved in, one of the remarkable aspects of his organization, Stratton Oakmont, is the unwavering loyalty that it commands from its employees. While the values, the brand that Jordan and the firm espoused are downright shady (which makes for a great movie plot!), the org leadership’s ability to articulate, live and celebrate them is what created the cult, the tribe of Stratton Oakmont. They guided the culture, actions and decisions of every employee on a daily basis.
This last quarter, we tried to explore the different facets of an org’s brand, its impact on culture, and how people enact that culture in their behaviours.
Our conclusion: For an employer brand to resonate and be sustainable over time, it needs to be real, relevant and relatable.
Given that the organization you work for is your ‘space’ for a large portion of your day, you would like to work for an org whose culture and values you can feel & experience consistently. But values do not automatically flow through the organization just because they are listed in the vision or mission statement. Instead, the values need to resonate through actions, processes and decisions taken on the ground. It’s only then that the brand becomes ‘real’ to the employees. One great example is US-based outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, which lives up to its promise of work-life integration through measures such as paying to send nannies on business trips or providing childcare facilities at the workplace (which is not mandatory in the US).
It is only if your audience (whether your customers or your employees) can relate to your brand, that the influence of the brand is likely to extend beyond the time and geography that they dominate. Such brands stand the test of time since they are closely aligned to the core values of their audience. For instance, IKEA’s vision to ‘create a better everyday life for people’ is something that is very relatable (and appealing!) to their customers and employees. Organizations also need to give tangible cues for making this relation. For example, does your org celebrate and reward their employees when their actions are in line with the culture and stated values of the organization?
The most important quality that a brand needs to have though is relevance. If there is no alignment between the stated employer brand attributes and the stated business goals, then it becomes largely irrelevant. Apple is an example of a company that recognizes and emphasizes the relevance of Diversity in today’s hyper globalized state, and its impact on their product design. The company is constantly tailoring its perks and benefits as per employees’ needs rather than simply following industry best practices.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is not just a poster line anymore. It’s the holy grail of organizational growth and productivity.
The buzzwords of today’s corporate vocabulary are ‘Ownership’, ‘Accountability’, and ‘Impact’. The only way these behaviours are realized and enacted are when there is a clear articulated culture, a #brand, for the employees to guide them. This means that everyone, right from the top leaders to the company receptionist to the salesperson in their retail store must align to and exhibit those #brand values.
We would love to hear more about your thoughts and about your organizations #brand, and culture!