Simon was Chairman and founder of the consultancy People in Business (PiB) which he sold to a private equity owned US group in August 2007. He retired to focus on his new interests in 2012.
The first academic paper on the Employer Brand was written by Tim Ambler, Grand Metropolitan Senior Research Fellow at London Business School and Simon Barrow and was published in 1996 in the Journal of Brand Management. Simon had earlier created the concept of the Employer Brand when his brand management experience with Knorr and later Colgate came face to face with the different challenges of managing a large team. The authors described the concept in these words:
We define the Employer Brand as the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company.
The main role of the employer brand is to provide a coherent framework for management to simplify and focus priorities, increase productivity and improve recruitment, retention and commitment.
In 2005, Wiley published the first book on this subject ‘The Employer Brand – bring the best of brand management to people at work’ written by Simon Barrow and Richard Mosley.
This led to numerous speaking events globally for the authors and prompted intense competitive activity – always an encouraging development. In December 2014, a Google search revealed that there are 446,000 pages on the subject of the employer brand. The main themes focus on the identity and communications of an employer as a place to work ie the ‘Branding’. It is our view this is only a part of brand management which is to ensure that all the elements which make up the employment experience are in place if the business objectives of the organisation are to be achieved. In our view these start with the attitudes, values and ambitions of the senior management.
We hope that this reaffirmation of ‘real’ brand management will again change the priorities in this field not least in M&A transactions which are a ‘torture test’ for any employer brand. Of the 40 transactions on which we have worked only two have failed to achieve their objectives.