Marketing any organization is a contact sport. If you’re in a particularly competitive industry or marketplace, you’re trading blows with the competition every day for market share and top talent. Every action or inaction helps build your reputation among clients and prospective employees alike.
What companies have to sell—especially service firms—more than anything else, is their brand.
Brand? Wait a minute, you say, we’re not Coca-Cola or Procter & Gamble, why is brand important to us? Because, as an employer, your brand is your reputation as a place to work and your firm’s success depends on being able to attract and keep the right talent, doing the right things, for the right clients, to drive your value—and your profits—higher.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear, there are TWO kinds of brand. The first is your firm brand, which is the combination of your reputation and visibility among potential clients and referral sources. The other is the topic of this post—your employer brand, which is your reputation and visibility among potential employees and talent referral sources. The former is important for attracting new business and revenue opportunities, the latter is important for generating that revenue and (hopefully) its related profits.
In fact, employer brand is so important, a recent study found that 41 percent of companies have formal employer branding initiatives. The figure is even higher in larger firms. Furthermore, 94 percent of firms plan to maintain or increase their investment. This commitment to employer brand-building is not surprising given that it has been shown to produce a number of benefits for professional services firms.
An employer brand study from Hinge Marketing looked at employer branding and sought to answer questions surrounding the topic including what it is, what candidates look for, and marketing's role in employer branding. Let’s take a look at five important reasons why your employer brand matters:
Recruiting is the area where you would expect to see the largest impact of your employer brand. A strong brand should increase both the quality and quantity of applicants. Because you have a bigger and better applicant pool, you should be able to attract better candidates and hire good people faster. These benefits are extremely helpful when you are looking for specialized skills and experience.
2. Talent retention
Retaining your best employees is an ongoing challenge for professional services firms. This is where a strong employer brand really pays off. While offering more money is a time-honored strategy for luring away—and retaining—top professionals, it’s not always about money. A strong employer brand can be a powerful incentive to stay with a firm. There is even research that suggests that many employees value a great workplace (and brand) over higher pay.
3. Employee satisfaction
Employees want to feel good about where they work. Accepting a position at a workplace with a poor reputation is rarely a wise move. Companies with a positive, highly visible brand attract positive, highly visible talent. The kind that enjoys working in a supportive, can-do atmosphere and will make significant contributions to the bottom line.
One of the most important considerations for a potential hire is your firm’s culture. And indeed, how your culture is perceived can be important in recruiting and retention. But there is another reason culture is important. Your firm’s culture sets expectations about what behavior is valued and what is frowned upon. It affects employee interactions and how you treat your clients. Collectively, these factors reveal a positive or negative atmosphere and paint a pretty good picture of what it’s like to work at a firm.
5. Financial performance
There are two ways an employer brand can improve a firm’s finances. The first is cost reduction. The costs of hiring well-qualified team members are often lower over the long run because your employer brand will produce a higher quantity of quality applicants more quickly. These reduced costs should increase profitability. The second financial impact can be much larger. Having top talent and retaining them over time should also help improve revenue growth.
It’s important to note that, regardless of your actions or lack thereof, your company has an employer brand, whether you like it or not. What you choose to do about it is key. Developing and implementing an employer brand strategy will enable you to take charge of your brand and help ensure that grows into a strong, positive, and profitable one. Or you can choose to drift along, allowing the fickle winds of public perception and unmanaged employee attitudes push your firm into uncharted waters. It’s up to you.