Book Review: The Employer Brand, by Simon Barrow And Richard Mosley

It's all about the brand
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Should a growing business worry about its image as an employer when there are many more pressing issues to be dealt with, like building awareness in the market place, a reputation for service, quality and value?

It's certainly the case that, beginning to build a distinctive image as a company and as an employer can't be embarked on early enough. Your most important brand relationship may be about your choice of breakfast cereal, your car, or even your football club, but sooner rather than later, it's got to be your employer brand - how employees feel about your company. How potential employees view a future employer can be critical to the business's success or failure. Building a strong employer brand increases an organisation's ability to attract and retain good staff.

The mistake young, as well as established, companies make is to splash the ideal image in recruitment advertising to sell the benefits of the employer when this sort of perspective plainly lacks depth. Much better that a young, ambitious business creates a coherent brand framework from the start.

Once you have a number of brands, it's worth adopting conventional brand management techniques and bringing in experienced young marketers to build the brands. Applying the brand principle to the company to improve overall performance should be a board matter, if the process is to help reduce costs and improve financial results.

Unilever's Fergus Balfour takes the view that "the employer brand successfully implemented builds pride in an organisation, and with it, success in the market place." The authors are not quite as bold. At its simplest, they argue, a brand is no more than a badge of identity and a promise of performance, yet even with great brands such as Gillette and Persil, we know little about their employer brand. Great employers such asMarks & Spencer can have their down phases, and others are taken over and ultimately closed down by their new owners, even though the brand flourishes.

Many strong brands have enduring values and a stunning survival rate. Some of the brand management lessons learned here must apply to the employer brand. This is not just an eloquent brand management and marketing text but one of the wisest management books in the past five years.