You may have never heard of employee branding, but experts are saying it is one of the top content marketing trends of 2013, so it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. You can find dozens of definitions of employee branding out there, but what it all boils down to is that employee branding is using the positive connection between a company and its employees to extend a favorable brand image and experience to customers. If you need real life examples of employee branding, think of Wal-Mart as having a terrible employee brand and Zappos as having a great one.
Why employee branding is important:
First and foremost, employee branding sets your company apart. It sends a powerful message to customers saying that you are not just another company, but a company with such great personality, values and standards that employees are willing to tie their own reputation and lifestyle to that of the company. Why does this matter? Because people don’t trust companies. People trust other people.
Employee branding also helps you maintain a competitive work force. Think about companies like Facebook, Google, or Apple; without ever visiting their offices or meeting an employee, most people can tell you what the office environment is like and what traits the employees have. This defined culture leads to making better hiring decisions. As an employer, you are immersed in the brand culture every day and will be able to quickly identify if applicants will fit into that culture and thrive. In addition, job seekers will know your company’s reputation and be able to decide whether or not they think your company is the right fit for them.
How to create employee branding
Your employees should live and breathe the company lifestyle, so no matter if they are telling someone where they work, posting about their day on social media, or interacting with customers, they are exuding your brand culture. To achieve this sort of loyalty and dedication to your brand you should be doing 4 things:
1. Be legit
Customers can spot fake promises and marketing from a mile away, so pretending to be something you are not is counterproductive. Before marketing your culture you need define two things: what your culture is and what you ultimately want your culture to be. The company culture you promote should be a healthy mix of those two things so that you stay true to who you are while still moving forward toward what you want to be.
If for no other reason, your brand culture needs to be legit because your employees are not paid to be actors, and will not live a lie for your company.
2. Create happy employees
Happy employees make a good employee brand. Why? Because they are your brand ambassadors both inside and outside the office. If your employees are happy with your company, they are going to pass that satisfaction on to anyone that interacts with them.
3. Encourage social media interaction
Employees posting about your company on their social media channels should be one of the most treasured PR tactics you have. Few things make your company look better than employees who want to tell their friends about your company. That being said, you can only encourage this, not push it. These posts need to be genuine, unique to the employee, and not something they copied and pasted from a company email.
4. Lead by example
A brand lifestyle needs to begin with senior management. If the big wigs are not living the brand lifestyle, you can’t expect your other employees to, either. If we go back to those companies we referred to as possessing a great brand culture, they all have CEOs who encompass the brand lifestyle (Facebook has Mark Zuckerberg, Google has Larry Page, and Apple had Steve Jobs). Leading by example often means creating a close-knit company culture through better communication. Senior management should be open and honest about what’s happening within the company, know every employee’s name, and treat everyone and everyone’s opinions with respect.
Employee branding has become such a huge part of content marketing today that, whether you like it or not, it has become part of your job description. As a content marketer, you need to understand, embody, and promote the employee brand.