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How Local Employee Advocacy Gave Heart to Adobe’s Employer Branding

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Employer Branding, Talent Attraction, Brand Authenticity

With more than 40 offices across the world, Adobe has been encouraging employee advocacy by urging staff to create locally-themed content and has seen a big uptick in engagement as a result...

In the ultra-competitive battle for talent in the tech market, strong employer branding is vital to help build and retain a competitive edge, even for established names such as Adobe.

Best known for its suite of printing, publishing, and graphics software, Adobe is a global organisation with more than 26,000 staff across almost 40 countries.

Central to its employer brand is allowing employees to share some of their own experiences and stories to reflect how the organisation focuses on wellbeing, diversity and employee welfare. Having access to a suite of industry standard DTP software products helps to make that happen.

Both EMEA Talent Marketing Manager, Isabelle Galére and UK&I Talent Acquisition Manager Ollie Hayes, are recent recruits. Galére joined to help coordinate the employer brand in local territories.

“I joined the company three months ago,” she says, “and the brand was driven mainly from the global team. I was hired to make it more local, make it more regional. The philosophy and strategy have a global alignment but our intent is to go from bottom up, meaning that the stories are coming from the employees but with direction from our talent teams.

“The first guideline is authenticity. We don't want to push people to share if they don't want to. People have great stories to tell at Adobe.

“Sometimes, you have the company promoting a lot of benefits, campaigns, etc. Which are not always a reality. Everything that was mentioned during my interview process was true. For me that is authenticity.”

“It's a really pragmatic approach,” adds Ollie Hayes.” I've seen other companies who are less keen to let their employees drive employee advocacy. But I think people trust what the individuals in those companies say, so it has real value.”

Localising employer branding

The aim of an employer brand and EVP for a global organisation is to bring cohesion across the company.

There must be a local opportunity to interpret the global message in every territory. From a framework strategy perspective there are going to be elements that are global and central so it’s non-negotiable - the positioning statement, the brand guidelines, the typeface, the colours and so on and then elements which are globally defined and locally tailored and purely local elements.

There is also the consideration of the different mix of employees within the organisation which, in Adobe includes software engineers, marketing, sales, HR, and everything in between.

“What we asked ourselves is ‘what is our talent looking for?’, says Galére. “And they are all over all regions looking for the same things as career opportunities, work life balance, and probably flexible work. That’s something I can see all over EMEA.

“We have a lot of well-being programmes for our employees because Adobe is really a company that cares about the employee. Work/life balance is very important to us. We have tools for mental health apps to help, we have an employee assistance programme and also programmes offering funds to buy a bike, to do sports, whatever.” for wellness and education.

Employee advocacy

Hayes says staff have bought into the employer brand and employee advocacy quite naturally, with an inherent creativity and technical understanding among the workforce, coupled with the confidence and the ‘permission’ to share their stories and experiences.

“With other companies, you might need to go for a big behavioural change and educate the recruiters around making that mindset shift and thinking more like marketeers when it comes to their work. But at Adobe, maybe it's because we're a creative company with creative people, that has been something that has come quite naturally, “ he explains.

“People are quite keen to get involved with employer branding. And then you show them that, to drive an employer brand, programme, or project or to launch micro stories or videos, you don't need months and months of preparation, you don't need a specialist agency to come in and take over, you can drive a lot of it yourself.

“You can show people how you can make it quite simple, using the company’s own products and solutions. If we're trying to drive a micro story we can provide thought out questions that really drive authentic content, that resonate with the people we're trying to hire and engage with.”

Adobe’s employee advocacy is also demonstrating how intuitive its products are to use, so it aligns nicely with its product marketing too. Employees Talent Acquisition teams are not necessarily experts in how to use the Adobe suite.

“It's really about encouraging people to learn to test and to get some success,” adds Galére. “And if I have success, what I really love is that I can share it. And why don't we? Why do we have to reinvent the wheel? We have simple, easy stories that come from our employees that we leveraged from UK to Germany to Romania. It's really about the employee initiatives, more than the leadership.”

Language, locality, and imagery are all key to creating local flavour, says Hayes, With video being particularly impactful.

“What's always been noticeable for me is when you see content coming from certain organisations, especially US tech companies, which I've worked for in last 10 years, you get good at spotting whether it's European content or media content, or whether it looks very Americanized.

“I always remember speaking to colleagues in Germany, and they said content in Germany lands better when it's in German, or it references a German institution or the German university. That's what they really grab hold of.

“The main thing is making it look less like it is American content. But is it more sort of UK content, for example, I think EMEA is sort of quite diverse as with all the different regions, we've recently launched a video, which was specific to the Nordics. And you can see in the imagery and a video that that was done that it's very specific to the Nordics.

“But I think the key messages that come across are all those around internal mobility, why people love Adobe, the memories that they've created here and so on. That resonates across different markets, but it's quite clearly not somebody standing in California or New York or something.

“And then there is local content, people resonate a bit more with that. It comes through in the imagery you use, or the just the language or combination of both.

“And I think it is videos than imagery. You know, taking a photo of somebody in the office could probably be anywhere. But I think for the videos, you can showcase the local office. Our Paris office, for example, was in a video created not that long ago, and from the rooftop you can see the Eiffel Tower, it's quite hard to sort of think you're anywhere else.

“With video I think you can showcase the local flavours. Not everyone is speaking in English with a specific accent, which is the beauty of it.”

Galére has seen improved localisation and targeting content create a huge pick-up in engagement rates.

“Additional to what we are seeing as a company, employees are really talking about their experience in their own language, which makes it also very personal and very sincere for me.

“When you see the engagement, when people are liking or sharing, you can see when it's personal, and written with heart, it's really something that is very engaging for the followers.

“I am very focused on target audience, instead of pushing your content over the world about something happening in UK that nobody elsewhere would care about. That engagement rate would only be focused on the UK and that really decreases the engagement rate. Now I'm really targeting specific audiences like UK or Romania or France, whatever. Since I started that targeting, I've been seeing a lot of improvement from I would say engagement rates going up from two per cent to 20 per cent.”

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