I thought that the best possible way to start this running dialogue on the state of employer brand development would be with at least one somewhat obscure, seemingly unrelated reference, thereby assuring all that our conversations will seldom be one-dimensional, and if they are, at least they will offer the possibility of semi-rational randomness.
So on to Rene Magritte, one of my favorite artists, whose Surrealist body of work includes “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” a fantastic juxtaposition of words and image. Many have taken the approach that Magritte’s painting of a pipe accompanied by the caption, “This is not a pipe,” simply points out that the artist is emphasizing he has created a picture of a pipe, not an actual pipe, and that representation of a thing is quite different than the thing itself.
This takes us to the relationship between employer branding and the employer brand. (No, really, it does.) Most organizations would like to believe they have established an employer brand. But most organizations believe that all they have to do to accomplish this is develop and execute some colorful, descriptive employer branding materials – typically ads, brochures, and web sites, and get those materials in front of candidates. (“Glad we got that done, now let’s move on to matrix management!”)
However, all that these companies have created is the representation of a pipe – they have not created the pipe itself. The real effort should begin with determining what kind of pipe a company should create, or whether it should be a pipe at all. This requires an understanding of an organization’s aspirations for its employer brand, the realities of the employment experience, and the perceptions of that experience. But most of all, it requires an understanding that a working employer brand is a set of strong, positive associations that employees and candidates have about an organization as an employer, that it is more than advertising, and, that it is rare.
Okay, that’s it for this first time out. I’ve got some ideas for the weeks ahead that will get into specific aspects of employer brand development. But IвЂ™d also like to know what areas you would like to examine, however random they are.