Talent Branding, or Talent Advertising?

Talent (comics)

Talent (comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I’ve been working with a company who are great at attracting high-quality candidates.  Their “talent brand” is phenomenal – but they are facing significant problems with high early turnover in their organisation.

At its’ core, any kind of branding (including talent branding) is a promise, a statement of what makes you important and unique, and why you should be trusted.  In the consumer market, your brand might promise value, efficiency, exclusivity, or quality.  In the talent market, it might promise a collaborative, high-performance culture; opportunity; or innovation. Your brand is a set of principles that communicate who you are and what you stand for.

Allbusiness.com suggests a set of principles to use when developing a brand:

  1. “Think analytically. A brand should provide something that warrants attention on a consistent basis, something your audience wants and is not getting from your competitors.”  A “me too” strategy destroys value rather than creating it.  What’s unique about your workplace that appeals to your target (talent) market?  If you don’t know what that target market is yet, define it before you define your talent brand.
  2. “Maintain your brand. One rule of thumb is that when you start to become tired of your …branding efforts, that’s most likely when they are sinking in with customers.”  If you develop a strong value proposition that you truly believe in, then it shouldn’t be a problem sticking to it.
  3. “Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Typically, the best you can do is to focus on the niche market for your product.”  In the talent market, this means understanding the workforce that will lead your organisation to success.  A brand that speaks to you personally is much more powerful than a blanket approach – “we’re great to work for” doesn’t compel.
  4. “Know who you really are. Know your strengths and weaknesses through honest analysis of what you do best.”  This is where your promise is kept or broken.  If you manage to hire top talent, but their experience as an employee is not what the talent brand promised, they’re likely to become disenfranchised and leave – or worse, become disenfranchised and stay.
  5. “Fully commit to branding. Treat all functions of the company, from product development to sales, as integral aspects of your brand.”  A talent brand needs to be integrated into the whole employee lifecycle, not just the attraction side.  If you look after your candidates but not your employees, you’ve got a recipe for employee dissatisfaction.

So what happens when the promise is broken?   In the consumer market, you “make the sale” and your customer becomes disenfranchised and leaves.  It’s the same in the talent market.  If you have high early turnover, take a look at your talent brand.  And consider using Strategic Workforce Planning to coordinate all of your talent initiatives, so you have a coherent strategy throughout the whole employee lifecycle.

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