Voice and Your Employer Brand
The Language of Internal and External Perceptions
Richard Pelletier/Lucid Content
In the 2009 film, Up in the Air, career transition counselor Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) travels from city to city, cubicle to cubicle as a hired gun who fires people. Bingham holds conversations like this one:
Steve: “I’m fired?”
Ryan Bingham: “No. That would imply that you had broken company policy and that of course is not the case. The position itself no longer exists.
Steve: “You’re just taking my job away?”
Ryan Bingham: “No one’s taking anything, Steve. There’s nobody to blame. The position has just gone away. It is in the past. However, more importantly, you are still here. You are the future. And that is what you must begin to focus on, because if you cannot find fulfillment within, there is no future.”
Ryan Bingham then hands Steve the dreaded “information packet” - the road map to his imminent career transition, and leaves.
An extreme example of a terrible employer brand yes, but instructive. This employer values neither people nor language. “The position itself no longer exists.”
Employer Brand & Writing as Branding
As architectural and design firms worldwide work to maintain their position during a fiercely difficult economic downturn, the need for a clear, strong employer brand has never been more urgent. Finding and retaining the best talent available is a significant competitive advantage that pays real dividends over the long term.
To that end, take a moment to consider how your organization uses words and language to articulate your employer brand. The ways in which you speak and communicate, both internally and externally, have real world consequences for your
current and prospective employees. The strategic use of language to express your organizations culture, voice and brand – writing as branding – can have lasting and powerful benefits.
Engage, Stimulate, Humor
Poke around the world of business communications for a few minutes and you’re likely to see the same tired and used up words and phrases that have bored us silly for years. Leading provider of this, cutting-edge that. Dedication. Commitment. Solutions. Innovative solutions. Comprehensive solutions. Innovative, comprehensive solutions. “Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to…” Mercy me. How often have you seen a version of that sentence? Does it even mean anything anymore? How many hundreds or thousands of different businesses could this generic sentence describe?
So here is problem one. Language like this fails to stimulate, humor, or engage anyone - clients or employees. It says nothing about who you really are as an organization. Does language like this say that you challenge assumptions? That you have fun? That you listen? That you will work until you drop because the client needs this now and this is a way of life for you? That you are never satisfied? That you are hungry?
Here is problem two. Because you’ve not told us in any meaningful way who you truly are, we have to decide on our own. And phrases such as, “innovative solutions” or “dedicated professionals” lead me to conclude you’re just like everyone else.
Problem three. If I am a major talent looking for an exciting, even exceptional workplace filled with other similarly qualified people, your place doesn’t sound like the sort of place I’m looking for. You sound humdrum and boring. Opportunity lost.
The Voice of Opportunity
Every organization has to decide how to speak to their customers and to the world at large—how to find and deploy their own voice. Whether it’s a website, a press release, a case study, a capabilities brochure, an annual report or a newsletter, large companies and small make safe, boring choices The reasons are many but the suspects are the usual ones: the legal department and a risk-averse C-suite.
But here is the thing. To take a bit of a risk, to use language more effectively, to make more authentic word choices, is to tap into a large, untapped opportunity to enhance your employer brand and to create true and compelling distinctions between your brand and your competitors’. To use your own voice gives
you a real chance to connect with other humans. And to connect with other humans is what business is all about, yes? Words can do that for you if you let them.
Speaking of Social Media
You may have noticed that social media has changed everything, including the means and the nature of our conversations. Social media has sparked a million conversations between company and client, employer and employee, and the rest of us.
Social media is a phenomenon because it encourages simple and authentic conversations; it affords us delightful and surprising connections, and, it promotes the sharing of information. Are the conversations more bracing, more direct, more honest? Yes? Sometimes more acrimonious? Yes. Sometimes trite and silly? Sure, yes.
All of which is to say this: Just as the Internet has dramatically shifted power into the hands of the buyer, social media has changed the language of commerce, selling and persuasion. As Ryan Bingham might say, the old ways of telling your story has gone away. It is in the past.
Your audience–clients, investors, employees, prospective employees, and the rest—are holding hundreds of conversations every day. Those voices are telling your story in original, wonderful, profane and exciting ways. So here’s an idea. Have a listen to those conversations. And be ready, because the wonders of your story, the real life pulse of your organization, your voice, can be found there waiting for you.
Are you compensating your employees in line with your competitors?
Find out by participating in the WAN 2010 Survey of Salary, Benefits and Diversity.
Pre-order your survey now before Wednesday 30th September deadline.
Richard Pelletier is the owner and founder of Lucid Content, a copywriting firm based in Portland, Oregon. More information is at www.lucidcontent.com
Editorial , London
No. of comments - 0
Add comments | Read comments
Please enter above code:
Cannot read the code? Please click hereOR click on the image to reload.