Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2013

As 2012 comes to a close, let's take a look back at the year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from telling your brand story to embracing new technologies to engaging your employees. I hope these articles will help you become an employer of choice and attract top talent -- and avoid some of the biggest social media mistakes. 

Here are the BrandeBlog’s six most-read posts of 2013.

Employer Branding: Recruiters Help You Tell the Right Story
One of the biggest recruiting trends of 2014 is employer branding: the promise your company makes to its employees. And one of the biggest trends in marketing is brand storytelling: the use of content and experiences to bring your brand to life. Combining these trends can bring a powerful presence to your talent acquisition. Here's how to do it.

How to Become an Employer of Choice
A recent Gallup study found that only 47% of American workers are completely satisfied with their jobs. A MarketTools study found that 21% of employees had applied to another job in the past six months. Clearly, many employees are ready to look elsewhere for the next step in their careers. To attract the best of these workers -- and make your current employees stay with you, follow these steps to become an employer of choice. 

Create Goodwill for Your Small Business with Community Involvement
For any small business to succeed, it must build goodwill with the surrounding community. You can have Facebook fans or catalogue customers all over the world, placing orders by phone and email, but if locals aren’t walking in the door, you’re doomed. Branding your business as a “hometown hero” can make a huge impression on your customer base and serve as an important differentiator in the marketplace.

Build an Employer Brand Fortress by Integrating with Your Corporate Brand
One question that gets asked in every employer branding workshop we hold is, “Where does our employer brand fit with our corporate brand?” Some companies create an employer brand slogan that lives only within recruiting or HR. That's often against best practice, as it has no bearing on a true employer value proposition. A strong EVP is based on the unique elements of your culture and workplace, resonates with the people you would like more of, and integrates with the same value proposition to your consumer base. Integrating the two brands isn't always easy, but it's crucial to success.

Social Media PR Disasters: Applebee's Wild Night
If it's true that you can learn more from failure than from success, then there's a lot to learn from Applebee's mysterious midnight meltdown. After the restaurant chain's controversial firing of a waitress, critics took to Applebee's Facebook page to complain. In the early hours of Saturday, February 2, someone from Applebee's tried to fight back. What happened next is a perfect example of what not to do in a PR crisis.

Recruiting with Google Glass
Google's new wearable technology may change recruiting forever. Why? Because, as the economy improves and the competition for talent increases, Google Glass will allow organizations to show a job listing and a corporate culture instead of telling. From talent acquisition to employer branding, here's how this amazing visual device can be used to engage job-seekers in several new and exciting ways.

What do these posts' popularity tell us? That there a lot of people with an interest in  and a need for  social media trends, marketing, and branding. As it so happens, they are also specialties of ours! 

Want to be more popular to job-seekers, employees, and customer? Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2014.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to Conduct A Social Media Competitive Analysis - For Free

It's important for every business to conduct a competitive analysis to find their niche in the marketplace. But how do you analyze your competition on social media? How can you compare a big brand on Facebook to a small brand on Twitter? 

The good news is that you can conduct a fairly thorough competitive analysis using sites and tools that are completely free. Here's how:

Basic Social Media Metrics 
First, see if your competitor promotes their social channels on their website and their blog -- if they even have a blog.  There's a big difference between tiny icons at the bottom of a website and big "Follow us" buttons at the top.  

Then, look at their social profiles to see how many likes they have on Facebook, how many followers they have on Twitter, etc. These raw numbers alone don't tell the whole story, but they'll be crucial to determining other statistics. 

A great place to start is Wildfire's Who's Winning in Social feature, which lets you compare follower growth of three brands (including your own) on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ over a range of time, from the last seven days to the last two years. 

Wildfire's "Who's Winning in Social" interactive app

Simply Measured offers a number of free reports aimed at specific social channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram, with Pinterest coming soon. For Twitter, the report tells you how influential your followers are, the top keywords in your followers' profiles, and even a breakdown of followers by time zone.

A few social channels themselves offer free information on your competitors. Facebook lets you create "interest lists" that allow you to see your competitors' latest content and what type of content is resonating with their followers -- in real time. Be sure to set your lists to "private" so your competitors won't know you're watching them!

Content Metrics

Now you know your competitor's numbers, so it's time to determine what type of content they're posting. You can start with a quick scan of their feeds. Many brands start with text and links. More advanced brands add photos and videos. Expert brands also post polls, contests, and games. 

For a deeper analysis, you can use Infinigraph to see what type of content your competitor is posting, along with the most common days (and time of day) to post different forms of content.  You'll not only discover a competitor's content strategy, but you may find that different content is posted on different sites; for example, food and design photos do very well on Pinterest.

Engagement Metrics
Lots of followers is good, strong content is great, but how is your competitor's audience actually responding? Engagement is really the most important metric of all.

Rival IQ
 shows your competitor's content within the last 90 days, sorting the content by the type of engagement per each post.

Rival IQ's "Competitive Landscape" feature

Why is this important? Take Twitter. When someone favorites a brand's tweet, only the brand sees it; but when someone retweets a tweet, that person is actually sharing the content with all their followers. Pinterest and Facebook make similar distinctions between approving a post and actually distributing it.

It's also very useful to see the tone of engagement. Is your competitor posting a lot on Facebook...because they're responding to numerous customer complaints on their timeline? Are followers associating the competitor with good things or bad things? SocialMention lets you see the ratio of positive comments to negative ones

Putting It All Together
Armed with this information, you can determine what types of content generate the best types of engagement for your competitors and learn what opportunities you have to stand out from the crowd.

Did you find a social media opportunity but aren't sure how to exploit it? Brandemix has a great deal of experience in social media marketing, branding, and recruiting. Contact us and we'll work together to put your findings to good use.

Monday, December 9, 2013

What Do The Biggest Recruiting Breakthroughs of 2013 Mean for 2014?

It has been a big year for recruiting and employer branding. Employer are now reaching job-seekers through "SoMoClo" -- social media, mobile device, and the cloud. New technology, new services, and new philosophies are re-shaping the recruiting world.

So how will the breakthroughs of 2013 shape recruiting in 2014? Here's a rundown of some trends you should be watching. 

Another evolving technology is gamification, adding game mechanics to a non-game activity, like recruiting. Marriott got the ball rolling with an awareness campaign, and a few other companies have used aspects of gaming in their recruiting. The trend took another step when the French postal service created a game for orientation and onboarding: it simulated getting up in the morning, eating breakfast, and dressing for work, along with mail sorting and delivery. It's only a matter of time before a bold employer fuses all these concepts together and turns the entire hiring process into a game. Who will it be?

A recent LinkedIn survey shows that job-seekers have moved their searches to mobile devices: 72% of active job-seekers and 62% of passive candidates say they've visited a company's mobile site to learn about careers. But the survey also found that only 13% of companies have "invested adequately in making their recruiting process mobile-friendly." If you're using social media in your recruiting campaign, keep in mind that many social sites are visited from a mobile device: according to Microsoft, 50% of Twitter users access that network through a phone or tablet. I expect all these numbers to increase in 2014. Is your company ready for mobile recruiting?

Google Glass
As I recently pointed out, Google's new wearable technology, launched this year, has the potential to revolutionize recruitment videos. There's nothing more powerful to a candidate than showing them what a day working for a company is really like; Google Glass lets them virtually experience it. But that's not all. Google Glass can show candidates the recruiter's point of view -- literally! This can greatly help them prepare for the application and interview process. CEO's can also wear the device and shoot videos of their working days, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the corner office that employees and job-seekers now only dream of.

Vine/Instagram video
Speaking of video, two new short-form services launched in 2013. Twitter introduced Vine in January; Instagram added a video component six months later. For any recruiters using social media (which is most of them), these simple formats have opened up a whole world of video possibilities. With only a few seconds, very limited editing, and no graphics or effects, even a recruiter who has never made a movie in her life can now create tiny works of art and share them with job-seekers on numerous social channels. So far, I've been inspired by Manifest Digital and Aviary on Vine, and VMware on Instagram.

These trends shaped 2013 and will certainly influence 2014. At Brandemix, we're keeping close tabs on these emerging concepts and are adding them to our campaigns. If you'd like to know more about gamification, mobile recruiting, Google Glass, or short-form videos, drop me a line.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Brandemix Reveals Best Practices in Award-Winning Annual Report Design

'Tis the season for...annual reports! Brandemix's resident expert on the subject is Creative Director Clarissa Zorr, an award-winning designer with more than 10 years of experience. Her team created a report that IR Global Rankings named one of the top global annual reports of 2010. Clarissa is also a member of AIGA, the professional association for design. Today, we turn the blog over to her to get her thoughts on how to create a compelling and honest annual report.

It's The Start of Crazy Season
Not the holidays, but annual report season. Every year, publicly traded companies must present their shareholders with a report on corporate performance. The date varies from state to state, but it's always around tax time. Companies often start creating the 
report during the fourth quarter. The final earnings don't come until the end, and you can't really design the charts or graphs until they do, making November through April the "crazy season" for people like me. 

What Makes a Great Annual Report
What makes an annual report successful is transparency. All companies have bad years. How do you keep your investors during the tough times? After all, people often want to get rid of bad stock. But a financially sound company will have a plan if, say, a drug didn't get approved or a merger didn't work out. The shareholders deserve honesty and it's the agency's job to convey that. Of course, there are ways to be transparent while still giving the story a theme or framing information in a certain way. The company wants investors to know that, though it was a tough year, the company still has a long-term strategy for success. 

How Annual Report Design Affects Storytelling 
The format of an annual report can go in any direction. Some companies talk about their pipeline and look to the future after a bad year. Some brag about their recent accomplishments after a good year. The interior of the "book" will vary depending on the story the company wants to tell. 

Whatever the report's concept is, we tell it with design. That includes photography, typography, illustration, and charts. These all must come together to tell that story clearly. It used to be that all annual reports were physical books, but within the last 10 years, some states have allowed online versions. Interacting with screens instead of paper certainly affects the design and reader experience as well as the cost. For companies that preach sustainability, not printing hundreds of thousands of books is essential.

A sample annual report chart created by Brandemix

New Trends in Annual Report Design
As long as the investors have access to mandatory 10-K tax documents, the report can take any form. I've had clients whose annual report was little more than a video; they told their whole story on a website with almost no text.

An even more intriguing idea is the use of social media as a way to communicate with investors and share financial information. That concept is a little too advanced for some investors (and even some companies), but it's definitely a trend. And I understand why: it's transparent. It's the same sort of open dialogue that companies use when talking to consumers or job-seekers on social media. The message to investors may be different than the one given to customers, but it's still truthful.

How Brandemix Creates Compelling Annual Reports
We partner with top international firms that specialize in investor relations, which handle all the regulations. That allows us to focus on strategy, design, and execution. Like most projects, I start an annual report by listening to the client so I can develop the message they want to convey to investors. Sometimes I read transcripts from the annual shareholders meeting, where I look for emerging themes in the company president's address.

The design dictates the next steps. Taking the video route, for example, requires shooting, editing, graphics, and music. Often the board members must sit for an annual photograph, which can be logistically challenging for such busy individuals. The sheer amount of writing that must be done can also be daunting. This is why some companies turn to agencies like Brandemix.

The Best Annual Reports
There are actually awards for the best annual reports! IR Global Rankings determines the best reports based on "extensive technical proprietary research of publicly traded companies through a clear and transparent methodology." IRGR looks at annual reports from a technical perspective. They ask, Are you being transparent? Are you being forthcoming? Are you giving investors the information they really need? It's all about the quality of communications. And I was honored to have one of my reports make a very strong IRGR showing in 2010.

If you'd like to learn more about annual reports, write to me. Or view some of Brandemix's design work on our website.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Back at Thanksgiving, with Kiva

All it takes is one person to believe in you.
Organizations across America have believed in Brandemix to develop branded communications that attract, educate, and engage their target audiences.
During this time of year, we feel it’s important to give thanks for that trust and to give back as well. That’s why every year for Thanksgiving we make contributions to Kiva, a nonprofit organization that enables people like you and me to extend microloans over the web to low-income entrepreneurs in struggling communities, whether as far away as Africa or as close as Staten Island and New Jersey.
We chose Kiva out of many other microlending sites because eighty percent of its recipients are women, who are sometimes single-handedly supporting large families. As a certified woman-owned business enterprise, we believe in strengthening women around the world.
No matter how difficult our lives at the moment, people are suffering far more in many places – too many – across the world. Please take the time to visit and give to the worthy cause of your choice. It’s not charity; it’s a loan, and more than 98% of Kiva recipients repay the loan with interest.
Lending through Kiva creates desperately needed capital in some of the poorest parts of the globe. It bypasses corrupt governments and predatory banks and ensures that the money goes directly to those who will use it. When the loan is repaid, you can give the money to another entrepreneur, donate it to Kiva’s general fund, or simply withdraw it. It’s a great way to give. And while you're there, join the Brandemix lending team.
We hope you’ll join our efforts to fight poverty around the world and here in the US. From all of us here at Brandemix, happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Employer Branding: Telling The Right Story

Right now, the biggest trend in recruiting is employer branding, crafting the promise your company makes to its employees. And the biggest trend in marketing is brand storytelling, using content, examples, and experiences to bring your brand to life in the mind of consumers.

Combining these trends can bring a powerful presence to your talent acquisition. But it's not always straightforward. Harnessing the best of employer branding and storytelling means sharing not only the story you want to tell but also integrating the story your best candidates want to hear.

For example, your company may have a customer-service focus -- but that's not necessarily part of a compelling employment offer. That sort of disconnection happens all the time: Many employers think that recent college graduates are concerned about the environment, but a recent NACE study showed that working for a "green" company was last on their list of desired employer qualities.

And don't mistake storytelling for content. You may have a regular blog, Pinterest boards full of photos, and a YouTube channel with lots of videos, but if none of it emotionally connects to job-seekers, you won't move the needle. As Momentum Worldwide's Jon Hamm put it in Adweek, "Audiences have always asked for stories. They've never asked for content."

To most effectively integrate storytelling with employer branding, I recommend that the HR department -- and even the C-suite -- become best friends with recruiters, because they're the ones "selling" your company and know what resonates with job-seekers. You'll have to go beyond a few casual conversations, too. Conducting independent focus groups with your recruiters allows you to marry what your company offers with what people want. It also lets you create counterpoints to what people are saying about your company "behind your back."

Another successful hire!

The result? You'll build a compelling employer value proposition that resonates with desirable workers in the job market. They'll be the right cultural fit, too, which means you'll decrease hiring times, hiring costs, and turnover while increasing retention, referrals, and productivity.

The best branding involves storytelling, and employer branding is no different. Good employer branding is easy to spot -- Southwest Airlines, Taco Bell, Deloitte. Bad employer branding...well, those companies never seem to become household names.

It just so happens that Brandemix specializes in brand research and employer branding, so we're an ideal partner for determining what top talent is hearing from your company and what they want to hear. If you'd like to stand out from your competition, I'd love to hear from you. Write to me or read about our successes on the Brandemix website.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Branding, Marketing, and Web Design Trends

With the holidays fast approaching (such as Thanksgivukkah in just two weeks!) we thought we'd share some of our branding, marketing and web design predictions for 2014. 

Branding: Clean-Slate Brands
According to Trendwatching, new is good, less is more, and sometimes true is better than tried. Consumers are seeking greater control, choices de-simplified, and upstarts on a mission. 2014 could be the year of the entrepreneur with a great product and an inspirational mission.

Web Trends: Start with Small
Begin your design phase of every project with an eye on how it will look on a mobile device. Then branch out to tablets and PC's. It will help you frame your content by what's important and build an architecture based on best-practice.Less is more. Just as we saw above, the trend is moving to simplification: large images, parallax effects, and one-page websites organized into blocks of content inspired by Pinterest. The only thing that will get more complex is the choice of web-friendly fonts you can use.

Video is surging in popularity. A June 2013 survey conducted by AOL showed that almost three quarters of marketing professionals plan to increase their spending on branded video content or video ads in 2014. Same rules apply: keep it short and simple, and make it good. 

Social Media Marketing: Diversify Your Strategy 
As we saw from investors' show of support for Twitter's IPO, social is only getting bigger and more relevant. As choices expand and audiences fragment, it gives marketing professionals the opportunity to create meaningful content that creates affinity for your brand's voice. Once you build out a brand framework and architecture, drill down your value proposition for each audience and demo you're looking to reach.
  • Google+ will continue to grow in size and influence and should no longer be thought of as a second-tier site. Delete that joke on the famous "Donut List."
  • Image is everything and make it fast. Think Vine, Instagram, Pinterest. The popularity of these sites shows us that appetite for bite-sized chunks of content is growing. Say it in 6 seconds - and go! 
As always, it's best to have a strategy and never too late to download our free Social Media Marketing Strategy Guide

What are your marketing predictions for 2014?  We'd love to hear them. As an agency that specializes in branding, marketing and web design, we love staying ahead of the curve. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Busting Employer Branding Myths

Considering how important employer branding is, I still encounter a lot of confusion and misinformation about it. So, as a public service, I thought I'd bust some of the myths about employer branding.

Myth #1: Employer branding is unnecessary
Some clients tell me, "We're an employer of choice; great candidates will find us." And yet you never hear executives at Apple or Disney or Coke say "Everyone knows our products; customers will find us." In fact, those brands have massive marketing budgets. You can't assume that your exact desired demographic, whether it's MIT grads or truck drivers, will actively seek you out. Or think about this: What if great candidates do know you -- and don't like what they see? Employer branding can increase awareness and engagement by refocusing your messaging on your company's mission, vision, values, and business strategy.

Myth #2: Employer branding is expensive
Good employer branding actually saves you money, through lower recruiting costs, higher engagement, and increased productivity/sales. Depending on the plan goals, a basic research project can be launched for as little as $10,000. You can start small with communication audits and internal surveys, and then add executive interviews and employee focus groups. If you can secure a larger spend, we recommend surveying external constituents to provide context to your internal findings. 

Myth #3: Employer branding is completely separate from consumer branding
It better not be! An employer brand must be absolutely aligned with and inspired by the consumer brand. After all, candidates are customers, investors, and influencers. One of the first things we do on any employer branding project is break through organizational silos and align the employer brand with the company's current messaging. We try to get all stakeholders -- Marketing, HR, Internal Communications -- into the same room to make sure we have a consistent brand that's authentic on both sides of the house. Along the way, we often help Marketing and HR become friends!

Myth #4: Employer branding research can be done in-house
It can, but it's much more difficult. Employees are reluctant to share their true feelings with their HR department for fear of reprisal. Executives interviewing each other often leads to an "echo chamber" effect, where no one advocates change. And external constituents, such as customers and former applicants, think surveys are a marketing ploy and stay away. Brandemix is a neutral third party; we take empathetic listening to the next level by listening, probing, and processing. An outside set of eyes can reveal things about your employer brand that you never saw.

Myth #5: Employer branding only helps the hiring managers
Au contraire! The entire company benefits from a strong employer brand. You'll attract employees who are a good fit for the culture, who stay longer, perform better, and recommend the company to others. More referrals and lower turnover makes for a happier, more stable workplace. HR will have more time to work on other initiatives, like workforce planning, talent management, or diversity. Eventually, you'll have weeded out the underachievers and filled your roster with satisfied employees, which studies have shown create more profit for the entire organization.

Don't let these myths fool you. Employer branding is crucial to the success of any company, from a nonprofit to a regional chain to a global corporation. It cuts costs, generates profits, and can turn your company into a true employer of choice.

Any other myths you want busted? Drop me a line.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why Ann Loft Careers is a Social Media Superstar

The latest Jobvite survey shows how important social media has become for talent acquisition: 78% of recruiters have made a hire through social, 33% say it decreases time to hire, and 49% say it increases the quality of candidates. Most impressive is that 20% of recruiters believe social media's value is at least $90,000 a year.

Who is leading the trend in social recruiting? I'm always searching for brands that are use social channels to engage job-seekers in clever ways. Joining recent honorees Amtrak and Taco Bell is the latest Social Media Superstar: Ann Loft Careers.

This iconic fashion line is active on seven social platforms, reaching out to job-seekers with compelling and unique content. Here are some highlights.

A Facebook Page With More Content Than Some Websites
Ann Loft Careers has a very robust Facebook page. Recruiting channels for Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube each get a tab, and there are custom tabs for internships and for the company's charitable giving. On average, Ann Inc. posts twice a day, and responses to timeline questions are prompt and sincere -- one query was answered in just 12 minutes and another was answered after 9:30 at night. Best of all, there's a custom tab just for the employer brand, "Fit Is Everything," that includes the company's mission, vision, and values.

Ann Loft Careers' custom Facebook tabs

Reaching Out Through YouTube
There are 29 videos on Ann Loft Careers' YouTube channel. These brief, well-short videos show what it's like to work in a store or at corporate. Several showcase the internship program, while others explore the company's green initiatives. Ann Inc. even charges headlong into what can be a touchy topic -- the condition of the foreign workers making their clothes. But it's communicated as ResponsiblyANN: Supporting Women and shows all the company is doing to improve women's lives around the world. My favorite videos are instructive, such as The Perfect Interview Outfit and How to Apply at

Showing Off On Pinterest
Fashion is visual, which may may explain why Ann Loft Careers has a jaw-dropping 9,000 pins collected into 56 boards. And yet a number of boards have nothing to do with clothing. Along with boards offering great job-search advice ("Fall Interview Outfits," "Attention-Grabbing Resumes") there are some galleries that are just plain fun, such as a board devoted to breast cancer awareness month, one for Halloween treats, and one for "must-read" novels. Taken together, these boards add up to more than a look at Ann Loft Careers; they convey the Ann Inc. lifestyle. It's a brilliant way to communicate the company's culture and to help job-seekers self-select.

One of Ann Loft Careers' 56 Pinterest boards

Putting It All Together
But what if a job-seeker wants to follow all of Ann Inc.'s recruiting channels? The company's recruiting team has put together a web page like I've never seen -- a three-column live-stream of all their posts, from Instagram photos to tweets. It allows job-seekers to get a snapshot of what Ann Inc. is posting without having to follow all seven platforms. But even with all that information, the page is as clean and eye-pleasing as one of their fashion ensembles. It's like a Tumblr or Storify just for Ann Inc. talent acquisition, but it lives within 

Ann Loft Careers combines authenticity with whimsy, and education with fun. It's reaching job-seekers in lots of visual ways and giving away important information on the job search and the interview process. And it aggregates all its social content into one convenient stream. It looks like Ann Inc. is in an enviable position as it prepares for its 50th anniversary in August 2014.

For all these reasons, I declare Ann Loft Careers a Social Media Superstar!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Internal Communications Best Practices from Thomas Cook

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, show how organizations can use Thomas Cook's philosophy in engaging employees during a re-branding.

To learn how Brandemix can help you with employee engagement and internal communications, visit our website.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Five Things You Can Learn About Internal Communications from the Thomas Cook Re-Branding

Thomas Cook is the world's oldest travel agency. But after surviving wars and natural disasters for 150 years, the company was in real financial trouble in 2011. 

Marketing magazine listed the problems: "Emergency loans, travel-agency closures, job cuts and profit warnings," and about $786 million in losses in 2012. The company closed 200 of its agencies and shuttered its publishing arm, which had produced 300 travel guides.

But with new CEO Harriet Green, Thomas Cook reorganized and stabilized. And then it needed what Head of Communications Vicki Burwell called "a face and personality to the body that we have worked so hard to make fit and healthy again." That is: a new brand.

With input from stakeholders across all its divisions around the world, on October 1 the company changed its logo from a blue sphere to a "Sunny Heart" and trimmed its lengthy tagline from "Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it" to simply "Let's go!"

But how to roll out this new branding to 27,000 employees at offices all over the globe -- some of whom worked at home? What followed is a case study in smart internal re-branding. Here's what Thomas Cook did right:

Supporting managers first
"We first unveiled the Sunny Heart to our Leadership Council, 140 senior managers from across the Group," Burwell told All Things IC. "They then owned the rollout to every single employee over a two-week period" in the run-up to the official launch. Rather than a single directive from the CEO, which wouldn't have been customized to each division, Thomas Cook let managers lead the way. And even better  they gave the managers a launch kit with videos and slide shows to communicate a consistent message across all departments.

The importance of employee buy-in
Thomas Cook could have rushed or overlooked the employee roll-out; after all, the branding was already done, so who cared what the workers thought? But Burwell saw that it was crucial to have employees on their side: "For them to understand why this is so much more than a new brand image, and the role that they have in our ongoing transformation, is vital for them to deliver our all-important brand promise." Spoken like a true brand advocate!

Employee trust
The agency unveiled the branding to employees first, so there were 14 days where one leak, anywhere in the world, could have diminished the public unveiling. "We trusted them with all the detail and asked them to keep it under wraps until launch day so we could maximize impact," Burwell said, "and it really paid off."

Thomas Cook employees in Belgium celebrate the new logo
A "carnival" kickoff
Anticipation and secrecy made for a very fun day when the branding finally went public. Burwell said, "There was quite a carnival atmosphere on launch day. Lots of people chose to come to work with heart or yellow-themed clothing and there was a lot of social media activity with photos and reactions being posted on Facebook and Twitter. There was a great sense of anticipation and much celebration on the day." When employees are actually celebrating your brand, you've done your job.

Maintaining momentum
The launch is over, but the excitement goes on. Burwell explained how the internal communications team is keeping employees engaged and involved: "We'll be using [a re-branded intranet] as a primary channel to keep the brand alive and to encourage even greater 'Groupness,' a term we've adopted across the company over the past year. We've asked for feedback and ideas on all the Sunny Heart activity and will be using this to help further shape our ongoing plans."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Through all phases of this transformational initiative, Thomas Cook did everything right. Take a look at their new website and see for yourself.

Is your organization looking for a new brand and greater "groupness"? Let Brandemix be your travel guide.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: The Important of One Brand

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, explains why it's important for organizations to integrate their employer brands with their consumer brands -- and shows how to do it right.

To learn more about employer branding, download our free strategy guide or contact us.

Monday, October 14, 2013

One Brand: Part 2. Building a Brand Fortress Through Integrated Employer Branding

Employer branding has been heating up. According to a 2013 LinkedIn survey of recruiting trends, recruiting leaders are fearful their competitors are investing more heavily in employer branding than they are. No surprise. Employer branding done well brings in qualified candidates that are pre-sold with your organization’s mission, vision, and work rewards, making a recruiter’s job much easier. For larger organizations, having a well-articulated employer brand architecture ensures consistency or messaging- where everyone, from employees to recruiters, is singing in one voice. 

There is one question that gets asked repeatedly, in every employer branding workshop that we hold.  “But where does our employer brand fit with our corporate brand?”

It’s not unheard of for some companies to create an employer brand slogan that lives only within HR, and more specifically recruiting. Often, against best practice, it has no bearing on a true employer value proposition, one that is based upon the unique elements of your culture and workplace, resonates with the people you would like more of, and integrates with the same value proposition to your consumer base.  But this should change.

So why should you do it?
Integrating your employer brand with your corporate brand will build a brand fortress: a talented body of people working together to support the same corporate goals and achieve positive outcomes from their efforts. There are demonstrated financial rewards with having an engaged workforce of people who truly believe in what the company is trying to achieve and how they deliver on the corporate brand promise.

How can you do it?
The marketing department is your friend. Talk to them and find out what information they have on hand. You might get consumer surveys, industry trends, and if you’re really lucky, the brand book.  Along with logos, color palettes and typography, the brand book should contain the brand position of your organization, what your organization is and what it stands for.

These words and phrases sum up your company’s vision and customer promise, and might also define how the brand is brought to life. Everything you do in communication and action needs to support that statement, including your employer brand.

2013 LinkedIn Global Recruiting Survey

The consumer brand will be your guide to how your company wants people to feel about the brand and the overarching business objective you want to achieve. And that’s where the workforce enters.

Look closely at that statement. There are emotional qualities embedded within in it. “Confidence”, “passion”, “determination”, and “diligence” enjoyment may be some of the feelings it tries to evoke. Those feelings are what the employer brand has to align with.

What are the demonstrated experiences from your workplace that bring those emotions to life? What need to change, if anything, to keep those emotions true through the pre- and post-employment cycle? Think of the potential talent that you are looking to hire. Can they buy into that emotional space?  Do your business goals resonate with them, or is it simply a good job fit?  

Finding the true brand ambassadors through your employer branding will have a positive impact on culture, performance, recruitment  and retention. You’ll find after time you’ll have employees who come, stay, grow and recommend others committed to the company’s success.

And that’s the ROI of branding done right.

Monday, September 30, 2013

One Brand: Part 1. Extending Your Brand Through Internal Communications

Does internal communications matter to consumer branding?

You bet it does. Are you a retailer rolling out a brand positioning about knowledgeable salespeople helping customers navigate a myriad of product choices? Better make sure your knowledgeable salespeople stay that way.

Branding for financial services? A Forrest research report reveals that mergers and acquisitions have hurt customer relationships and advises a refocused attention on customer service. You better bring some TLC to your call centers.

What about an admired airline promising an incredible experience and having it come crashing (sorry) down when the baggage is stolen, lost, or delayed through poor handling?

While there are a variety of factors that influence public brand sentiment, your communicating to your consumer brand  to your employees is one that is easy to get right.
1. Roll in your brand.
 Let your employees in on the big reveal before you launch your new campaign.

2. Show the relevance. 
 Now that you have articulated your brand values internally:
  • Who needs to do what differently?
  • What do they need to change?
3. Communicate your brand inward
  • Look at your internal communications and the audiences you reach.
  • Where are the best places to infuse your positioning? 
Think about hosting a brand training event so sales people know what the customers will expect from them. Recognize and reward great customer service, and encourage testimonials from happy customers. Make sure your employees know how they are responsible for the success for your business and reap the rewards from a singular brand outside and in.

We welcome your input and are here for your help.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Recruiting With Gamification

Jason Ginsburg, our Director of Interactive Branding, shows how companies can use game mechanics to find more, better-performing, and longer-staying employees.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Win the Recruiting Game...Through Gaming

Job interviews can be stressful for both parties; the candidate worries that one wrong answer can take them out of the running, while the interviewer knows that a bad hire will cost the company time and money. Add to that the calls from some recruiters to replace interviews with personality tests because interviews only increase the likelihood of a great hire by 2%. In short, interviews don't filter out all but the best employees.

But there's a solution to ease the tensions of both the employer and the candidate: gamification. That is, requiring applicants to play a game that simulates the actual job. This not only gives applicants a rare inside look at what their work will be like but also subtly gauges their memory, aptitude, ability to follow directions, and other important factors.

Does gamification work? When the French postal service created a game for its applicants that included not just mail delivery but non-work activities like taking a shower and eating, the dropout rate for new hires fell from 25% to 8%. Marriott's famous hotel kitchen game, which launched in 2011, helped propel Marriott's careers Facebook page to over one million likes -- and is still available for new players two years later. Or look at it from the competitive angle: 
Research firm Gartner predicts that over 70% of the Forbes Global 2000 will have at least one gamified application by 2014.

Image courtesy of

I saw the growing excitement for gamification when two recruiting games won 2012 Creative Excellence Awards, given by the ERE:
Home Depot's Facebook game, in which players had to race among the store's aisles to help customers and find products, won first prize in the Social Media category. Deloitte China's "Green Dot Mission" game, a scavenger hunt through a virtual version of the company's office, took second place in the Interactive category.

Gamification can also be used for other initiatives, such as employee referrals, employee wellness, and even internal rebranding. A strong employee referral program cuts down on hiring costs while employee wellness cuts down on health insurance costs. I'm sure savvy companies will find other ways that gaming can reduce costs and increase profitability.

Ready to add gamification to your recruiting or other HR initiative? We're standing by.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: A Sneak Peek at Employer Branding Boot Camp

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, reveals some of the lessons and insights from the upcoming free webinar, "Employer Branding Boot Camp." 

The presentation will be Wednesday, September 25, at 2 pm Eastern/11 am Pacific.

Space is still available for this fun, educational event! 

Register for free here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Employer Branding Boot Camp: A Sneak Peek

As many of you know, I'm presenting the free webinar Employing Branding Boot Camp on September 25. It's a fun, insightful look at the power and value of a strong employer brand, filled with fun facts, case studies, and useful tips.

But I just can't wait until the 25th! I want to share a few sections from the webinar right now.

What is a brand?
A brand is a promise. Think of one of the greats: McDonald's. Their brand promises not only quick, inexpensive food, but also that their French fries will taste the same at every one of their locations in the world.

A brand is also an emotional connection that goes beyond the product itself. Consider the "cult" of Apple users, or clubs for Ford Mustang owners, or lovers of Nutella. Even if there are better products out there, these fans have a personal relationship with everything the brand symbolizes.

Interbrand ranks the value of global brands every year. For 2012, the #1 brand is once again Coca-Cola, with a value of $77.8 billion. That means that if you took away all the brand's assets -- from the factories to the bottles to the actual soda itself -- just the name and logo of Coke would be worth almost $80 billion. 

Compare that to Pepsi, #22 on Interbrand's list, with a brand value of $16.6 billion. I think we can agree that Coke and Pepsi, as soft drinks, are pretty much the same thing. And yet there's a $60 billion difference in the way people respond to their brands. 

What is a employer brand?

An employer brand is the promise you make to employees, from first-time applicants to retirees, and from entry-level positions to the CEO. In the same way that emotion persuades consumers to choose Coke over Pepsi, your employer brand persuades job-seekers to join your company over all the others -- even companies that might pay better or have "fun" reputations, like Google.

An employer brand differentiates your organization in the job market. It encompasses your vision, values, culture, and mission statement. It informs new hires so that they know what to expect when they join your team and increases the odds that they're a good fit. It gets reinforced by the HR and internal communications departments, which reflect the brand in all their messaging.

Image from NAS Recruitment Communications

And this isn't just to create a happy workplace, though that's one of the results; there are real business reasons for a strong employer brand. It leads to more, and higher quality, applications. It decreases time to hire and cost per hire. It produces referrals and unsolicited resumes. And it ensures that the people you hire stay with your company and perform well.

Ready to learn more? Sign up for Employer Branding Boot Camp while space is still available. If you can't make it on September 25, download our free Employer Branding Strategy Guide to start improving your recruitment communications and attracting top talent.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Decoding the 2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survery

Jobvite has just released its sixth annual Social Recruiting Survey, polling 1600 recruiters and HR professionals on their social media efforts.

The results continue a trend that I've been following for years: Social is a major part of any organization's hiring efforts. In 2008, 78% of recruiters were using social media. In 2011, it was 89%. This year, it's 94%. Even more telling, 73% of respondents planned to increase their social recruiting spend in 2013 - compared to the 39% who planned to increase their spend on job boards.

LinkedIn was the most popular social network in many categories, from searching for candidates (96% of companies), contacting candidates (94%), and posting jobs (91%). Only about half of respondents posted jobs on Facebook, and a little less than that posted jobs on Twitter.
Just what you'd expect, right? But there's more to these numbers than meets the eye.

Jobvite 2013 Social Recruiting Survey, page 12
First, the cracks in job boards' dominance, already mentioned above, become more apparent deeper in the survey. Respondents said that 42% of their applicants are sourced through job boards...but only 14% of hires come that way.Compare that to applications through referrals and company career sites, which make up 39% of submissions, but 61% of hires. This is a much better ratio, especially since 43% of these employees stay for at least three years, while only 14% of job-board hires do. It looks like job boards are generating lots of applicants who don't get hired - or don't stay if they do.

Another interesting discovery is that recruiters use LinkedIn differently from other social networks. LinkedIn was good for assessing a candidate's professional experience and "specific hard skills." But Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and others were better at determining a candidate's cultural fit. Which is more important? How would Southwest Airlines respond, whose co-founder Herb Kelleher coined the phrase, "Hire for attitude, train for skill"?

What I found most revealing were the questions that related to the financial value of social recruiting. 43% of companies spend less than $12,000 a year on social recruiting. But 65% believe that its value is greater than $20,000 a year. And 20% place its value at more than $90,000 a year!

Jobvite 2013 Social Recruiting Survey, page 10

I understand the budgetary restraints placed on HR departments, but these numbers show that even a small investment can generate tremendous savings, especially combined with higher quality of candidates (according to 49% of recruiters) and less time to hire (33%) that social recruiting produces.

Are you one of the 6% of companies not yet using social in your talent acquisition strategy? Or one of the 73% that plans to increase their social recruiting budget? Brandemix can help. Download our free Social Media Strategy Guide for Talent Acquisition. If you're ready for the next step, you can contact me directly.