This third case study illustrates the challenges and
opportunities offered by creating an employer brand. The organization in this
case study is a highly successful and dynamic global spirits and wine business
which has grown steadily through merger and acquisition over the last 10 years.
The steady progress of industry consolidation worldwide led this business to
consider its future as either an acquiring or an acquired company. This
contemplation led to a desire to strengthen various aspects of the business,
resulting in three interrelated aims:
To be fit and ready to take opportunities as they arise,
whether they come from industry consolidation, acquisition or new ventures.
To achieve quality growth by:
generating volume and share growth on specific existing key
encouraging innovation and launching new products;
integrating newly acquired brands and
In order to encourage full engagement and involvement in the new
strategy, the organization decided to launch an employer brand which challenged
all business units to get full commitment of all employees, so that each person
could become part of a unified winning team, connecting with consumers and
taking the business to new levels of growth. The top team wanted everyone to be
engaged in the action, committed to the goal and confident of their part in
achieving it. Everyone was expected to take an active role individually, and
work with others as part of the team.
One of the significant pieces of data that informed this employer
brand strategy was the following quote from the Collins and Porras survey,
Built to Last (1994): ‘Companies with strong positive core vision and
core values have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of 12 since
The employer brand
The employer brand arose from the existing culture. It was
worked on by both internal and external people through eliciting current views
of the company ethos, and gathering aspirations of current employees.
The concept of the brand wheel was used to define the brand. This
is encapsulated in Figure 7.4. The
brand wheel idea, developed by Bates North America, is used to define the
functional and emotional components of a brand. Bates North America has
developed an impressive reputation for reinvigorating brands. The brand wheel is
based on various concepts that go into creating a brand such as essence, values
and personality. The brand essence is heart or spirit of the brand. The brand
values are about how the brand makes a person feel and what it says about them
if they become associated with the brand. The brand personality is a way of
talking about the brand as if it were a person, to get to the emotional content
of the brand itself.
Figure 7.4: Brand wheel for employer brand
Out of the brand wheel came a concise definition of the six key
brand values together with their associated behaviours. See box.
The organization devised a three-stage process to move from
this definition of six core values to a position of full involvement with the
new strategy. The three stages were awareness, adoption and advocacy (see Figure 7.5), with only the first stage
planned in detail. The second and third stages were give a broad brush plan, but
awaited the results of the first stage to enable sensible planning.
Figure 7.5: Financial service quadrants
The awareness stage involved three main activities:
A video was circulated to all managers, which identified the
values in an exciting way.
Senior managers were asked to introduce the values at any
business meetings they were already running within a six-month period (special
meetings were not held, and HR people did not run the process alone).
The six values were integrated into the performance review
process. They became key performance measures for each individual.
The Adoption stage is going on at the time of writing, and was
preceded by a questionnaire which tested the success of the awareness stage.
Adoption in this context is about implementation, so this stage of the process
is very practical and involves lots of ‘handson’ activities. A brand director
was appointed at the end of the awareness stage to look after and promote the
employer brand, and interestingly, this person has a marketing rather than an HR
background. Planned activities so far include a newsletter circulating stories
of success and the creation of a Web site on the company intranet that allows
exchange of views and offers team exercises and thought-provoking resources to
help people to get to grips with the values.
Employer brand items and gifts such as mugs, sweatshirts and hats will also be
available for those who want to promote the brand locally, or wish to have
Advocacy is already appearing in pockets around the organization.
Various managers have been selected as brand champions, but this process is seen
as emergent rather than one that needs to be closely managed.
The planning team also used the Beckhard change formula to guide
their actions (see Chapter 3). This meant having a clear vision, explaining the
need for change and devising some first steps.