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What is the real power of a brand in recruiting staff?
By Ben Fletcher
Ben is Professor of Personal & Organisational Development at the University of Hertfordshire
The pulling power - leveraging your brand image for recruitment
Some cynical commentators say that a brand is nothing more than a misleading signpost: brands differentiate when products and services may not, and in some cases, cannot. A brand announces - it provides an advance calling card for the customer. It tells the marketplace something that might otherwise be hidden, or might take time to find out. In a fading brand it can say things that are no longer true. Brands attempt to take the choice out of choosing.
Make no mistake - 'brand power' is worth real money to an organisation. Indeed, for some, it represents the real value of the company. All companies that wish to grow want the power of their brand to grow at an even faster rate - brands propel growth more than any other company growth hormone.
Brands get you noticed. Brands help to make choices. As the number of possible choices customers can make become even greater in the consumer and business marketplaces, and as globalisation impacts more and more, so the power of a brand can get stronger and stronger. It is absolutely necessary in a global market to have a brand image. It is also necessary to deliver to that image. It is not a luxury in the corporate world - the brand is an imperative, strategically as well as operationally.
A brand should give trust, understanding and certainty of product or service. Brands have rational and emotional dimensions and this is why they are powerful as marketing devices: they cut out much of the need to educate the market.
There is another dimension to brand power, however. The brand provides advance information to the prospective candidates for any job opening in your organisation. That means they have expectations that need meeting. This is why a strong brand can be a poisonous, as well as a golden chalice.
Brands act as psychological triggers in candidates' heads. These are very powerful triggers in the job market and can play a key role in candidate's job choices. Candidates see the brand has value to them too, and will often weigh it heavily when choosing from alternative positions - a more highly paid, or a more senior job with a weaker branded company, may not be as attractive to them.
This powerful brand trigger can hold a loaded gun, too, in the job market stakes. The expectations the candidate has of the job need to be made compatible with the organisations expectations for the role. The brand power can distort this if it is not managed appropriately in the selection stage. That is why it is important to sell the job with the same integrity as you sell the products and services of the company to customers. Otherwise the successful person is likely to be disappointed and may leave prematurely, or perform less well to re-establish psychological 'equity' in the exchange. The brand impact is wide and deep, and acts internally as well as in the customer marketplace.
It is also essential that the image that is portrayed reflect how things are done in the company too. It is no good if management have aspirations or fantasies about the company brand that are not realised internally - the way things are done internally needs to reflect the operational realities of the brand. That is why the brand power has to have an effect and influence within the company too. The brand needs to be a reflection of everything the organisation does in the external and the internal marketplace.
It is this internal dimension of brand power that is often neglected by the powerfully branded companies. All aspects of company strategy need to be aligned with the brand, including the very important processes of staff recruitment, staff development and training. If the wrong seeds are sown at these points - especially at the more senior levels - the outcomes can be very negative indeed. The stronger the brand in the external marketplace, the more erosion is possible of the brand via apparently innocuous and unconnected internal processes. Think of your organisation as an expensive stick of rock and the brand as the name that goes all the way through it - wherever you cut it the name should appear just as strongly. It is not just at the ends where the customers nibble. Lever the brand at the recruitment stage and you are enhancing the brand at all levels. That is worth money.
(c) Professor Ben (C) Fletcher, 2002.
This is a series on 'The HOW, WHAT & WHY of Business and Management?' written by Professor Ben (C) Fletcher.
Ben is Professor of Personal & Organisational Development at the University of Hertfordshire. He is the founder of FIT Science which has taken over 20 years to develop. He is an Oxford doctorate, a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, a Chartered Health Psychologist, and was previously Dean (Director) of one of the larger UK University Business Schools for 6 years. He is on the Board of several companies, including being a founder director of The FIT Corporation Ltd. - the commercial arm of FIT Science. He is a member of the IOD. He has published extensively and lectured worldwide.
Ben can be contacted at email: [email protected].