Are practitioners of employer branding in this country too enamored of the market-centered metrics of packaged goods branding to see the strategic role that human capital branding can play in the talent environment of their organization? When you build an employer brand, rather than obsessing about market factors and what competitors for talent are promising potential recruits...why not focus first on the native culture of your workforce? Shouldn’t this be your organization's most authentic and compelling basis for attracting and cultivating talented contributors that are likely to stay around and enrich the workforce?
Even if your corporate culture is less than ideal, you might start refining a talent brand by attempting to discover the authentic motivators that inspire top-performing members of your existing workforce. What positive factors keep team members coming back to work every day? Starting at the other end—by dwelling too obsessively on what you determine that typical recruits are looking for in an employer--is a seductive distraction. It can tempt you to cut corners on what should be a thorough and empathetic discovery initiative throughout all segments of your culture. Building your talent brand to dovetail with what you think are expectations in the talent marketplace may yield high response rates, even quick wins in hiring, but will these team members stick around for long if they discover that the actual workplace experience doesn't match the promise?
Make no mistake: a talent brand should certainly take account of recruiting Best Practices in its industry and it should certainly inspire creative and resonant recruiting outreach, but there's more to it than that. Ideally, it can also supply identical value themes and creative energy for internal human capital initiatives, from retention to staff development to inclusive leadership. For more on this dimension you might check out my article "Rethinking Employer Brands" from the June 2010 issue of The Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership. .
The takeaway here: of course you should consider the external “competitive” landscape in building a talent brand. Just don't obsess over it; there are potentially far more compelling creative themes implicit in your real-world culture if you make the effort to discover them.