The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


Branding and Employment

systematicHR Avatar

How can you create strong employer brands in the face of changing economic and business environments?  Sometimes creating and maintaining a positive employer brand are uphill battles because of business decisions operational managers make.  Other times, employer brands are easily created and maintained.

The couple of examples that come to mind are Nike and 3M.  Nike has suffered for quite some time with their employer branding even though their commercial and product brands are among the strongest in the industry.  The impact of revelations of  substandard labor practices in their Asian factories a decade ago continue to have an impact on how potential employees see Nike as an employer.  Conversely (no pun intended) Converse shoes have always been made in America.  Only recently did they offshore production because their ability to compete with higher cost structures had eroded.  But the “made in America” branding still sticks with them today.  Interestingly enough, Nike purchased Converse in 2003 (I think that was the year).

Other organizations like 3M easily ride a wave of good employer branding.  When Post-it notes came out, 3M was heralded as an organization where innovation was held high and employees were allowed much leeway to exercise their creative juices.  Years after the Post-it note was introduced, potential employees still remember this example.

Similarly, the Ritz-Carlton hotel seems to not have been negatively impacted by the acquisition (Marriott purchased them – I’m not sure when).  The Ritz’s employer brand has long been “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”  Not that the Marriott has a weak employer brand, but the fact is that I don’t know what their employer brand is, but I do know what the Ritz’s is.  And the fact is that their high levels of service quality and customer satisfaction are clearly part of an integrated product and employer brand strategy.

I suppose that’s my point with these 3 examples.  You can create and work on your employer brand all you want.  If your employer brand is in sync with your product brand, you’re good to go – the two brands will reinforce each other.  However, if your employer brand is running contrary to your product strategy or financial needs, your employer brand is going to suffer.  We constantly talk about the integration of HR practices with the business.  This is really just another area where integration needs to happen.

Tagged in :

systematicHR Avatar