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In his new book, The Value of a Promise Consistently Kept: What I’ve Learned About Managing Brands as Assets, David Kincaid, founder and managing partner of LEVEL5 Strategy Group, writes in detail about the ideas, systems and tools that executives must use to create and sustain the value of their brands.

LEVEL5 is a leading strategic brand consultancy, and in 2013 Kincaid was recognized by his peers when he was inducted into the American Marketing Association’s “Marketing Hall of Legends.” Throughout his book, Kincaid emphasizes the contribution that every function and department, including HR, must make to ensure that the promise of the brand is consistently kept.

Kincaid also describes five key stages that customers experience when they engage with a brand. These five stages can provide a planning framework that will help your HR department align the recruitment and on-boarding processes with the promise of the brand.

1. Trigger

First, your recruiters and HR managers should understand that there is also an “employment brand,” in addition to your organization’s brand in the marketplace. Every potential trigger point for candidate engagement with the employment brand must be considered: from glossy branded advertising to word of mouth communication on campuses and within target faculties.

An employer’s relationships and networks also provide trigger points for potential candidates to engage. Everyone in a business, from the professional recruiters to company representatives on professional associations, should understand that they can be involved in the process.

2. Engagement

As Kincaid points out, first impressions count with a brand’s potential customers. He writes that “Customers don’t think about these impressions as much as they sense them, through sight (and) sound…which deliver pleasure, relief, satisfaction—all the positive feelings that a customer associates with a promise fulfilled.”

Potential recruits are subject to similar feelings about an employer. Even sub-consciously, candidates will be developing a sense of your business as a place that they might want to work. The quality of communications, the professionalism of the interviewers and the efficiency of the administrative processes will all have an impact on the feelings of the candidate.

Ask any interviewee for an impression of the physical spaces they encountered during an interview. You will get a pretty good impression of how they feel about the employer.

3. Commitment

Kincaid writes that a customer commits to a brand through a purchase because they have certain expectations for that relationship. A new hire has made a similar commitment and will have important expectations for an ongoing relationship.

For example, if the recruitment promise included outstanding training opportunities, that promise must be kept by the training organization. Think about the expectations that new employees will have of your HR department if the commercial brand promise is extraordinary customer service. The new hire has made a commitment based on a promise made. That promise must be consistently kept.

4. Delivery

Kincaid notes that customers, in receiving delivery of a brand’s promise, will be “assessing the capacity of the organization to meet his or her expectations.” This is a constant process. Similarly, employees will be assessing the commitment and capability of the organization to meet the promise of the employment brand from Day One. This assessment is also ongoing and non-stop. An employer must be prepared to meet this challenge also from Day 1 with flawless delivery of HR fundamentals: factors like detailed on-boarding plans, training schedules, challenging assignments and feedback processes.

5. Perception

Engaged, committed employees can be among the best ambassadors for the marketplace brand and for the employment brand. To paraphrase Kincaid, an organization that exceeds its employees’ expectations will have people who will provide referrals and advocate for their employer, for example, on their old campus, among their professional associations and among their friends and social networks.

If the promise of the brand is consistently kept, employers in good faith can ask people to take on the role of ambassador. Employees are likely to be flattered and see it as another indication that they are valued.

Martin Birt is the president of HRaskme.comAfter serving seven years in the Canadian Army as a combat arms officer, he has enjoyed a thirty-five year career as a human resources manager, consultant and sought-after adviser to business executives. He can be contacted here.

MORE INSIGHTS FROM DAVID KINCAID:

Do you know what your employment brand is? How do you ensure you keep your promises to employees? Let us know by commenting below.

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