There are some companies that are unknown in this world, and while that may not be a problem for some due to the nature of work, if you are in the IT or ITES space it is criminal not having a strong brand presence. The connection that employees build with brands is well known, and if your brand is one that is not known in the market that you operate, the chances of having quality employees joining you is curtailed. It is a well-known fact that even in college placements, the big and well to do names with effective people practices and a well marketed social presence are the first to come into campus and take the cream, leaving the rest to the other companies. I remember during my Hotel Management days, it was the Oberoi’s that got the maximum traction followed by Taj and then the ITC group, followed by some newbies like Holiday Inn, Old World Hospitality etc. with the smaller players like Park, Surya, Sky Chef etc. coming in at the far end to wrap up the tail. I am in no way saying that these are bad companies, but a brand does leave a positive impact in the consumers mind as it dictates the final choice.
There are some easy to do (and part of the must do clan) that can be executed to improve penetration, build a customer base (employees future and present) and help employees to answer a simple question when asked “where do you work”?
- Social Media – Your company needs to have a social media presence across Facebook and Linked In, each tackling a specific business purpose. Company activities, things that we do to have fun, engage with employees etc. need to go on your company Facebook page, while Professional write-ups, best practice sharing, job openings, articles from employees etc. can go on to the Linked In page. Do not confuse Facebook with Workplace, as while Workplace is internally focused, Facebook is focused towards the external population.
- To the Eye – If you are a company with oodles of cash then advertisements in local press or billboards may help, however if you are on a tight budget, then there are some options which can be used to increase brand awareness
- Car and Bike stickers- Small stickers with the company name affixed on the rear and front of the vehicles respectively, helps improve brand visibility. Image 5 members going to the local mall and you have cars parked next to each other in a parking, which is quite visible to the local population who will want to find out which company this is.
- Apparel – Company branded apparel like T shirts, Shirts, Jackets, Caps, Head Bands etc. can be distributed to employees free of charge or on a part payment basis. I have seen employees wear these with pride, and this helps improve brand visibility while they travel to and from work. Wearing such at airports or an offsite in Goa helps too.
- Stationary and others – Company branded pens, books, diaries, ID card holders, laptop bags, traveler bags, shopping bags- anything that you feel employees will use outside of office, splash your name and circulate, in fact make it a part of an annual gift hamper.
- Participation in key events – I remember not so while ago, every time my teams used to participate in a group activity at an external location (like marathons, culture fests, competitions etc.), the entire team used to get new t-shirts in a common color with the corporate branding clearly splashed. You can image the visibility a large group of employees can create in such a group setting. (and the envy it creates in the mind of employees from other companies)
- Creating a Connection e.g. Family day, Annual day, Children Day etc.– Family and friends play a pivotal role in improving the “pride factor” for the employees. Imagine a father telling his office colleagues that my son works at XYZ company, and the colleagues can recollect the name as they saw a few cars running around, or they happened to read a post on LI. Invite parents and others over to the office to see the facility and get to know the place where their child works. Treat them with love and respect, and on their way out ensure that they have a souvenir to take home – it could be a memento in the form of a coffee mug. The gift will remain forever precious for them, and they will become your brand ambassadors in the years ahead.
- Job fairs, CSR, College visits- It is important that companies carry their marketing material especially when they are at job fairs, college and university visits or even during CSR activities. People will notice the group of people in Green with ABC on their T shirts sweeping the streets or helping the poor or even working with old age homes – connect the same to the Social media and the local press and here you have a winner.
- Share your WOW – If you have great people practices look at ways and means of sharing the same with the wider external population. This can either be in the form of articles on Linked In or it can be speaker events at various forums. Go in for certifications like “Great Places to Work” and once certified, ensure that you do enough for the world to know that you have achieved this certification. Employees connect more with brands who they know are here to make a difference and are continually evolving to improve their stature and position in the market. Complacency gets no buyers and such companies eventually die a slow and painful death.
A strong brand helps in building Pride at the workforce. The Pride is then linked to higher employee referrals (so reduced cost of hiring), better employee satisfaction scores (so greater productivity and quality) and longer continuity in the business (retention of key skills). One sure shot winner for me was getting rid of various annual employee expenses like Diwali gift, Eid gift etc. and bundling everything into an annual hamper which had a cash voucher (for them to take their families out to dinner), a pair of T-shirts, annual diary, set of pens, lanyard, good quality sipper bottle and a company branded bag. The smiles on employee faces make it all worthwhile in the end.