May 19, 2016 | Kelly

Recognition of Real Employer Brand management

Andrew Thomas introduces the Awards

There is something very special when you see an idea you have long cared about moving closer to what you originally envisaged for it.

I felt this, on the night of 26 April in London, whilst attending the first Employer Brand Management Awards hosted by Transform Magazine with over 300 in the room.

Some background first. The idea of the Employer Brand was sparked when, as an ex Colgate Brand Manager, I came face to face with the challenges of leading a large group of people. What I pondered were the commanding heights of the brand management process and why were these not being applied to the sprawling world of work?  After all, does not a team of colleagues deserve the same research, planning, innovation, engagement, coherence, leadership and rigorous measurement?  Add to that the mutual trust and respect between team, and leader and you are creating a solid brand equity.

Employers quite quickly picked up on the recruitment benefits of developing the right communications with, ’Employer Branding’ taking over from the old, ‘recruitment advertising’ description. However, it is the actual experience of what makes up the product or service that counts for more. As JWT’s Stephen King, the founder of advertising planning, memorably said, “advertising exists to push people further down a road on which they are already proceeding.”

The truth of that statement is never in doubt for any group of employees — no spin about their organisation will ever work for them because they will know the reality. An employer brand is built on their working experience and is changed for the better by tangible improvement to it.

Andrew Thomas and his team from Cravenhill Publishing (titled, ‘Communicate’ and ‘Transform’) deserve praise for planning and managing this event to recognise excellence in Employer Brand Management.

Here are some specific positives I noted:

  1. Substantial organisations entered including— Aldi, BMW, Fitness First, Deutsche Bank, VSO, TfL, SAP, GCHQ, EON, Odeon, Avon, Dixons Carphone and Hyundai.
  2. The teams there that night included many functions and line management people not only HR. Brand management needs a broad church.
  3. I met one CEO, Oren Peleg of Fitness First, an ex McKinsey leader with a record in the Private Equity world who clearly realises how essential senior leadership is in EB Mgt (just like it always has been in Product Brand Management). Maybe there were others and it is a sign of this message getting through.
  4. Judging. There was joint agreement among the Judges (who included people from Aviva, Ciena, IHG, Avon, The Crown Estate, Vodafone plus me) about the entrants who majored on creating the right employment experience plus how that was measured and managed versus entrants who over relied on external communications. The latter is a part but not the heart. Looking to next year maybe there are some new categories worth developing like, Entrepreneur driven businesses (which can include both the best and the worst employee experiences), Division and Business Unit leadership, An Employer Brand CEO of the Year? Best Employer Brand metrics? and Employer Brand Management post major corporate change (e.g. M&A)?

The evening also made me think of several outstanding companies who might consider entering in the future e.g. Unilever, Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal, Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Hiscox, Mercedes-Benz, Chanel, Timpson, Rolls-Royce,  among many more. Finally, I can think of some fund managers and City analysts who would have found this evening compelling.

If Brand Equity and value are driven by the ability to be an outstanding employer of talented people — they need to do more than just study the financial numbers by looking at the people and information just as carefully. They may need to pressure management for this but the output will lower the barriers, which currently prevent investors understanding such a key determinant of future success. 

Simon Barrow