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What Makes A Brand Work?

Learn the value of the role employees play in your branding efforts

Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra
What Makes A Brand?

What makes a brand? It’s a question I was mulling over recently after witnessing a company acquisition get a bit messy after news came out that its current employees were not part of the deal. While the acquiring company continued to tout the original company name and branding, a now-former employee fired off a comment about the company no longer having any worth without its former workforce. It was certainly an interesting thought considering the customers of that company were essentially losing all connection they once had.

Sure, the logo and branding still stood, but the people they had come to work with and, more importantly, trust over the years were gone. Any customer loyalty would likely have to be won back because it would essentially be starting from scratch from a customer experience perspective. You can’t simply throw someone new at a customer and think that relationship can pick up where it left off. With all of this in mind, it’s hard not to wonder how that could ultimately impact the future success of this or any company for that matter. Despite every other aspect remaining intact, just how important are employees to a company’s brand?

When you think of some of the most recognizable brands, you probably envision their logos, their colors, and maybe the unique names of the products they sell. What you may not think about though is the role that a company’s employees play in brand development and brand strategy. Just like many other facets, the employees are also a critical part of a company’s brand and can be a major differentiating factor in a competitive industry, like the mortgage industry. So, if you have never given any thought to how employees play into your company’s brand, it’s time to recognize your workforce’s inherent value and how you can develop a more defined employee branding strategy for your business.


Why Is It Important?

If you’re wondering what exactly employee branding is, it’s a relatively simple concept. Just as a company has its own brand image that it portrays to current and potential customers, employee branding is how a company develops an image of its workforce that it portrays to the outside world. Employee branding aligns with the company’s overall brand image and usually focuses on company culture and highlights more of the internal workings of what employee experiences are like within a company. It creates an idea of what customers should expect or typically envision when they think about what an interaction with someone at your company should be.

For example, a company might often show how their employees embody company core values or they may regularly showcase employees that go above and beyond, helping customers on social media or in marketing as methods of employee branding. By portraying these examples of who the employees of a company are through employee branding, potential clients can feel compelled to want to work with one company over another because they feel connected at a more personal level. They don’t actually know these people and they may not work with the specific people highlighted, but they may feel like these employees are people they’d rather work with based on the experience they are seeing.

Employee branding can be a valuable recruiting tool to draw the right talent to your company. Future employees can see your company culture and if the company values align with what they are looking for in an employer. This means not only are you likely to get employees that are a better fit, but they will likely be happier and more engaged in the long run if they feel a stronger initial connection to your company and brand. This also means you’re more likely to retain that top talent if you have created employee branding that resonates with your workforce.

How To Build Employee Brand

You know why an employee brand is important, but how exactly do you develop one? The best employee brands are built by showing exactly what it’s like to work for your company as seen through the eyes of the employee. Transparency is key so the experience actually matches what you are portraying. Some essential things you can do when building your employee brand are to define your company’s culture and set your company’s core values.

Core values and company culture go hand in hand and should be the building blocks of your employee brand. Since core values define what your company stands for, these should resonate with your employees, and your employees should be living and embodying these values in their work every day. Core values will help you attract the people you want to properly represent your company. The same goes for company culture. Having a workplace culture and an understanding of what it’s like to be at your company on a day-to-day basis and interact with others in the workforce can help provide potential employees and clients a look at the inner workings of what makes your business unique and more human.

Beyond that, it’s important to be realistic about what your employee brand really is based on your current employees, not simply what you wish they were. Again, you want to make sure the vision matches the reality and if there are things you wish you could tweak about your employee brand, how can you accomplish that in a realistic way. And finally, consistency is key. However, if you want to portray your employee brand externally, that message should be consistent and properly aligned with your company culture, values, and overall brand image. Consistency will create greater trust in the employee brand you created externally and internally, and without trust, you really don’t have much.

When getting to the bottom of the question: what makes a brand, the company, or its employees, the answer is both. A company must work with its employees to align its larger brand with its employee brand to create an experience that is cohesive for customers. Saying a company without its employees is an empty shell may be a slight exaggeration, but it certainly will not have as much success as a company that’s brand is properly aligned with its employees.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine September 2023 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is Chief Marketing Officer for RCN Capital.

Published on
Aug 29, 2023
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