Saturday, January 9, 2010

Employer Branding, Step 4: Communication Material

Do your employer branding ads show a good looking, welldressed person smiling at the camera, placed just above some text that is ended by your logo down on the right side of the page? This is the old way of doing ads. Today, in order to become an ideal employer, companies have to build consistent materials and differentiate not only their brand promise, but also the way they communicate it.

The aim of this step is to dress the chosen employer branding proposition in the correct words and pictures. The entire employer branding effort could falter if the communication materials are not created in a way that will achieve the desired effect among the targeted groups. A large portion of the employer branding budget is usually spent on this step. Spreading your communication material through diverse channels involves heavy investments, and is a crucial step in the process. The same way that you need to invest in advertising your products or services, you need to invest in the communication of your brand.

Coherence to previous steps crucial
It is essential that the communication material is in line with the communication channels and communication aims designed in previous stages. If you have information that print advertisement is not an effective way of communicating with certain target groups, it is obviously unnecessary to spend time and resources thinking about such a campaign. If you decide to use social media as a way of brand building rather than brochures it will have an obvious effect on the way you develop your website and the material used for other web channels, e.g. movies (

Moreover, coherence of previous steps can save companies from the trap of thinking employer branding is all about producing communication material. Not seldom, when asking companies why they decided to produce a certain brochure, I often get an answers like ‘all competitors are also doing brochures,’ or ‘we had nothing else to take with us to this career fair.’ So, think for a minute before you decide to produce your communication material. If it is not thought through properly, the result can be a confusing picture of the company.

Dare to be different
I know that it is increasingly challenging for companies to differentiate their message to current and potential employees. This is one of the drivers behind the reality of focus on employer branding. The need for differentiation among hundreds of detergent products that all do the "same thing" was the reason why marketing became a profession. I have already spoken about the need for differentiation in step 2) - the chapter on employer value proposition. However, it is far from enough to have a differentiating employer value proposition if you are not communicating correctly. Your communication material needs to reflect the feeling that you want to convey about you as an employer, not only the facts and not only the general statements. I suggest a simple test. Compare the advertising material used for employer branding by you and your closest competitors. Does it look different or similar? Take out the names of the companies and show it to a random group of current employees – if they can single your material out, you have done well. Conduct the same test on external population – if you get the same results, congratulations.

It is possible to differentiate. If people can differentiate between 20 different mobile phones or jeans brands, then something as complex as an employer value proposition must be possible to differentiate. Remember though that not only the tangible aspects of your offer should be used to differentiate. Use emotions to convince your target groups that you are the right choice for them.

The ‘global’ vs. ‘national’ challenge
One of the considerations growing in importance for many companies these days in the work with communication material is the balance between one centralized message – with a same proposition independent of location – and the local cultural differences that affect all communication. Universum’s ( strong recommendation is that your choice should follow the choice you have made for your corporate branding and strategies. If they are global, you should aim at getting your employer branding to be global and vice versa.

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