When working at Virgin circa 1993 I recall the marketing director of Virgin Games, Tim Chaney, claiming that the Virgin brand was one of the most recognized brands in the U.K. At the time, Richard Branson was building his empire on service/product promise, savvy advertising and word of mouth — well before PCs on desks with Microsoft Word and Google was commonplace. The realization of that time: the Virgin employer brand naturally inspired acquisition of talent, retention and loyalty of employees, and communicated a clear vision to optimize performance and engagement.
Everyone wanted to be a “Virgin,” and when they joined, they were loyal even after leaving the company.
It was my first experience of working for one of the pioneering companies that understood how to work on an employer brand through leadership, vision and product delivery. The lesson I learned from this experience: marketing, the C-team and human resources all really need to work together when it comes to effectively creating and implementing an employer brand.
For corporations, a positive employer brand is an essential component to attract and retain top talent. Sourcing and keeping talent is one of the biggest challenges global corporations face today. According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review, 36 percent of global employers report talent shortages, and that today’s workforce lack key skills to sustain competitive growth. With the skills gap widening in the competency areas most difficult to train, there is a shortage of qualified candidates. In recent years, the concept of the employer brand has become a specific focus among global corporations. There is a growing awareness at the top management level that companies not only need to manage their public image among consumers and stockholders, but also the “word on the street” among talent. Reputation management has become critical to succeeding in the information age for both individuals and corporations.
But it is deeper than managing the employer branding, it is also about defining what the company stands for as a corporation, and defining core values. There is an understanding that achieving the vision at an organizational level requires a well-functioning company. Critically, this success is created with strong functioning employee relationships and leadership. We keep seeing examples of how companies are as effective as the sum total of the people who work for them; including the quality and effectiveness of the management team. Proactively and consciously defining your corporate culture is the jump off point. It’s about what the leadership team want to collectively accomplish and it’s about a mission that is actually much deeper than the word brand has come to imply.