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Where The Law of Activation Falls Apart EBH
Going from the abstract to the concrete isn't always easy.
What would you pay to make all of your recruiters and recruiting tactics 10% better? To increase offer acceptance rates by 10%? To increase the quality of your hires? Even if you’re only a 500-employee company, building and activating your employer brand might save you $50k-100k.
So you’d have to be crazy to ignore this opportunity to build your employer brand for $3,500 especially when it comes with a money-back guarantee.
If you want to be the hero to your CHRO and CFO (not to mention all your hiring managers), take a look at taking my next Employer Brand Workshop, starting Sept 18th.
Want to talk about your situation and find out if the class is right for you? Let’s chat!
Where this falls apart
This is the “rubber meets road” part of brand development. This is where things get real.
And there are two very simple ways to screw it all up.
Challenge one: Stakeholders
Let’s assume that 90% of your stakeholders have a tenuous grasp on what a “brand” actually is. Many of them think a brand is a logo (see: The Law of Perception). So when you say you are delivering the brand, they may have surprising reactions to what you share.
They may say they don’t like a line, or that they don’t like the photo or a visualization. Heck, they might say they don’t like that color (been there, I assure you).
This is why we do all the heavy lifting of defining what makes you different, the subjective values you offer, and localizing it to an audience. Because that line, image, and color aren’t for the stakeholders. It’s there to deliver a message (the brand) to the target audiences. They may not like the line, but that line will deliver the right message to the right person.
When in doubt (or when in conflict), go back to the brand idea. Go back to the localization. Ask the objector, “Our only goal is to deliver [brand message] to [audience]. I understand that you have preferences, but my goal isn’t to hire you. You already work here. My goal is to engage [audience] with the message that’s specific to our company. Do you think this doesn’t solve for that?”
Challenge two: Textualism
For fellow fans of the movie Inception, you might remember the idea that you can’t tell someone an idea because if you do, it won’t be absorbed. The idea needs to be created in someone’s mind. That’s why I can’t say, “You should just be happy” and expect you to change your mood. People become happy (or sad or angry, etc) on their own.
But so much employer branding content is “We care about our people!” or “We’re focused on innovation!” or “We’re changing the world.” They are saying “happy!” over and over again hoping that it makes people happy.
Good activation sparks an idea. Look at Coke. Maybe one out of ten ads use the word “happiness” which means nine out of ten ads are trying to spark a feeling of happiness without using the word. If you want to be known for innovation, it isn’t enough to say it. You have to show it. You have to show the thinking behind it. You have to show failures and blind alleys that lead to insight and eventually innovative work. You don’t have to say innovation to get someone to think it. In fact, you should avoid saying it at all.
You could distill Moby Dick into simply, “man vs nature and the poisonous nature of revenge.” So is saying that the same as reading Moby Dick? If you read Moby Dick, won’t you find far deeper meaning and connection to the book than if you just read the summary of its themes?
Pinterest’s employer brand content is a great example here. If you look at their career site and social media, the word “empower” isn’t posted everywhere. Instead, they talk about how they are supporting people as they start businesses. They talk about “ideas from anyone, made for everyone” and “gives organizations who are building innovative mental health solutions the resources to scale their impact and ensure long-term success.”
They don’t say the word “empower” much. They are working from an assumption that what they are doing is empowering and talk about that. It allows the reader to infer, made leaps on their own about what that brand cares about and offers.
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