The Law of Activation 🏃🏃♀️ EBH
A brand not activated is just a slide.
Last call for Rachel Kennedy’s and my class on building a better LinkedIn content calendar.
Having localized your brand to concern itself with things various audiences care about, it’s time to activate the brand: turning conceptual influencers into deliverables like campaigns, content, ads, internal talking points, interview questions, job posting language, review site response boilerplate, and everything in between.
In short, this is the stuff your company was thinking it was getting when it agreed to an employer branding project.
To them, everything up until this point has been an academic exercise; speaking to staff, interviewing leadership, running focus groups, and completing competitive audits aren’t useful. Where all that thinking leads is.
The purpose of activation is to bring your brand thinking into the cold light of day. To stop talking about it in the abstract but in terms of the things candidates will see, read, and absorb. If you’re trying to get strangers to think of your company as a place that takes care of its people, what will you show and tell them to change that perception? Not what will that material be about, but what will that material be?
This is hard because when you work in the abstract, people can hear it described but have a completely different picture in their head than what you have. This is the point at which all abstractions fall away and everyone is looking at the ad, the website, the video, the job posting, or whatever at the same time, seeing the same thing.
There are two core jobs at this stage, and they happen roughly in order.
First, this is everyone’s chance to consider and evaluate the new brand as it goes out the door. Is this what they really wanted to tell candidates? Saying you’re dedicated to supporting your people is a fine brand promise, but now that you look at it in an ad, is it really creating a meaningful differentiation? This is both a question of position (is the brand we built the right brand?) and creative (did we express the brand the right way?).
Second, are you making good channel choices? You have a new brand and came up with a great headline that you love. It looks great on a website, but does it make sense as a job posting? Or a LinkedIn post? Or as a Tik Tok video? As you bring your brand out, you must consider the channel context when activating.
Activation isn’t just essential because it turns the concept into creative, but because you can change the creative, you can change the activation as much as you want without diminishing the brand itself.
Think of activation as fashion: hemlines and lapels change shape every year but a person will always be a winter or a summer forever.
That means you should think of your activation in a kind of seasonal fashion. How can we express the brand in a word pre-covid? During lockdown? And in a world of hybrid work? How does your brand expression change when your business is growing vs a slowdown? You can change these ideas and messaging without changing the central ideas of the brand itself.
Employer Brand Breakdown
Did you catch my impromptu LinkedIn Live on breaking down an employer brand. For my first stab at this format, I picked Pinterest. Watch the 15-minute replay.
Got a brand you’d like me to talk about, reply to this email.
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