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Is your Employer Brand Attractive or Compelling?

2 min read.





Employer Branding

When it comes to reeling in new talent, most organisations are engaged in a perpetual game of one-upmanship, too busy to take stock of whether what they are offering has real substance and whether it is drawing in the right calibre of talent.

When you break down your value proposition, is it attractive or compelling? Here is how to know.

What is the difference between an attractive brand and a compelling brand?

Attractiveness usually comes down to the “stuff” you offer. The high salary, the free lunches, the groovy orange slide in place of stairs – and so on. It is materialistic, heavy on the ‘what’s in it for me’ and that can be an attractive offer.

A compelling employer brand, however, speaks to a sense of purpose, impact and belonging where you get fulfilment and a meaningful investment of your time.

So, the difference between attractive and compelling is about solving for something on a deeper level; it's about higher purpose.

The problem with attractive employer brands

If your primary focus is getting attention through attractive perks, your offer won't qualify your audience in the way it should.

You can be attractive to everybody in the world. If I opened the doors to a new company tomorrow and said, “There are 150 roles, and they all pay half a million dollars a year. We will give you shares; we will give you free lunch, we will do your laundry,” who wouldn't be tempted?

But with attractiveness comes the risk that the juice won’t be worth the squeeze. That the benefits that seemed so attractive to a candidate will lose their sparkle once they learn the full scope of the role.

You can't be compelling to everybody in the world, though. If you say, “I can't pay half a million dollars, but this is meaningful work” in a specific way, that will be compelling to the right people. The people with the attitude and values that you need.

Ultimately, feeling connected to a sense of higher purpose is what anchors people to an organisation. Gallup data confirms it, purpose is the number one driver of employee engagement. 

If you lean into that as part of your proposition, the people that find that promise on the other side are more likely to stick around, do the work they love, better, and more productively.

How to create a compelling employer brand

Tip 1: Get them invested

The best relationships are a two-way street. If you are merely the recipient of something, it devalues the proposition.

Think about Ikea furniture. You form a connection with that flatpack cupboard because you put it together yourself. The fact that it took you two hours, countless brain cells and a little Allen key meant that once it was done, you loved it that bit more.

If you care about the environment, you can earn a living with Patagonia doing something that you love with a clean conscience, knowing that every penny of profit you create goes towards making the planet a better place. It could be the hardest work you have ever done, but if it's purposeful, it's compelling.

Make it clear what an employee must invest to get the prize.

Tip 2: Find your truth

To be compelling, you must dig and find the unique truth of your organisation, and this can only come through thorough research. How do your people find purpose collectively? What makes you remarkable?

It could be that you can contribute to something meaningful and see your work make a difference, or that you can bring your whole self to work and develop as a human.

Whatever it is, find the thing that resonates with your internal and external audience. This is not easy, but why should it be?

Three questions to bear in mind when finding your truth:

1. Does it differentiate?

2. Does it make you more relevant to your talent audience?

3. Is it highly memorable?

Tip 3: Focus on Impact

Compelling brands focus on results.

It is not enough to have a vague vision; you need to paint a picture of the tangible impact that your organisation has on the world. Bring that aspect to life and make it as compelling as possible by taking the time to articulate your results.

A compelling purpose in action: Ladder

I talk about Patagonia a lot as the epitome of a purposeful company, but this next example proves you do not need Patagonia’s size, success, or sweeping charitable gestures to compel your audience.

Life insurance firm Ladder, ranked second in Fortune's Best Small Workplace Awards in 2022. The company has a clear mission: to make life insurance more accessible.

As its company blog Ladderlife states: “In a world where we LOVE our shoes, our grocery delivery app, and our thermostats, we are at best indifferent about the companies that enable one of the most selfless and committed expressions of our love.”

Ladder’s point of differentiation is that they provide a smooth, hassle-free application experience, so employees have a chance to make a real difference to people’s lives, providing peace of mind to families and communities.

This Instagram post which documents a customer’s cancer diagnosis demonstrates the profound and tangible impact that Ladder’s work has on the wider world.

Ladder requires curiosity and creativity from its employees, with one of its core pillars being “Work hard and laugh.”  The brand’s commitment to creativity and humour played out in its advert which, despite it being from a small company, has over two million views on YouTube and went viral on TikTok. Watch it below and you'll get why. 

One last thing...

Putting together an attractive bundle of perks and benefits is easily done. 

Taking steps to become a more compelling brand is more difficult. But it is the right way to breed loyalty, engagement, advocacy, and longevity with the right talent. So, it’s the right investment to make.  



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