Employer Branding: Getting It Really Right

Tony Lepore

Whether a consumer or a candidate, an individual has to make the necessary progression from Awareness to Consideration to Decision. Before I can buy a product, I need to know it exists. I then need to be compelled enough by the product to consider it a meaningful option in the broader category of similar products. And then I need to be compelled at both an emotional (heart) and rational (head) level to select a given product over all other alternatives.

To our way of thinking, the question of how a brand is nurtured post-purchase is every bit—if not more critical—than all the groundwork that’s been laid up front. And it’s been our experience that less attention is given to the extension of the employer brand beyond the candidate’s acceptance. In reality, however, this is where the heavy lifting really takes place, and where the deepest benefits of strong employer branding live. Delivering on the employer brand promise is critical and should flow as a seamless, candidate-centric experience from offer acceptance to onboarding, mentoring, and so forth.

The final two stages in the Candidate’s/Buyer’s Journey are Adoption, the process of immersion into the world of the product or service (or in our case, career) that reinforces the belief that the right buying decision was made and Advocacy, the place of personal ownership (equity) that becomes so ingrained that employees become company evangelists. These are the brand ambassadors every company is looking to foster. But note that Adoption comes first and is really the key inflection point—where the company is either going to succeed or fail, often in spectacular fashion.

GE has really focused on the Adoption and Advocacy stages of the buying experience. The company has enjoyed significant consumer and industry recognition for its products and services, yet the team enhanced their overall brand, including its employment reputation, by investing time and resources to extend the recognition and impact of its employee value propositions. GE is continually redefining what’s possible in the world of employer branding and is formalizing brand ambassadorship in a way that can be both managed and measured. The key has been a genuine willingness to (1) listen and (2) improve—with the moxy to actually follow through and make stuff happen.