Pull not push

Linzi was asked by TALiNT to host a Purpose and Brand session for a select group of Founders and CEO’s of leading HR Tech businesses. 

Below is a piece of editorial that appeared in the TALiNT Journal:

Employer brand has come into sharp focus for everyone in the recruitment and talent acquisition industry; but how can you harness personal brand to make it more authentic?

On 30th January, TALiNT gathered a select group of founders and senior executives from some of the UK’s leading HR Tech firms for a session on how to use profile as an asset. This marked the launch of TALiNT’s new VSix programme for HR Tech leaders, to provide expert insight on everything from sales and marketing strategies to M&A activity and how to position the business for clients, talent, or investors.

Held in the beautiful surroundings of the Shooting Gallery at the Haymarket Hotel in London, the workshop was led by Linzi Boyd, award-winning global author, specialist in the ‘Business of Brand’ and founder of BoB Group. Linzi explained how to build a famous brand in today’s purpose driven market and align personal brand with the business brand to create the human face of the organisation. She also shared some insights on how the personal brand of your people can be aligned with the company vision to become better advocates for the business. 

Linzi set the scene by distinguishing between profit led and purpose led branding. “Businesses are typically sales and product led instead of brand led around the change they want to make in an industry or the world, which resonates more with people,” she said.

Boyd explained that the three core pillars of brand are: 

  • Purpose – what do you want to be known for?
  • Asset – what enables you to be the best at it?
  • Who – why are you motivated to achieve it?

The purpose of brand is to enable businesses to have an emotional connection with the customer, she said. “If you engage with people on an emotional level, then you don’t need to sell to them.”

Where corporate brands focus on business to business, or business to consumer campaigns, Linzi recommended ‘business to people’ with a message that resonates with everyone. 

Boyd cited Tesla, Apple and Virgin as great examples of purpose-led brands that people connect with on an emotional level to pay a premium for products and services. But how have they done it? Both have high profile leaders who live the values as brand champions and constantly lead the conversation as thought leaders, or ‘gurus’. 

Linzi highlighted brands like Nike, Pepsi and Nespresso that have achieved the same engagement with influential advocates and celebrity endorsement. She also looked at brands that have used their employees in campaigns, like Amazon, McDonalds, and the AA. 

Linzi then invited the VSix group to each consider how they wanted to use fame to build their business brand and their personal, for notoriety in their industry or the wider market. Could they build on their expertise to become a guru? Could they find respected NEDs or board advisers to be advocates, or high-profile customers to provide powerful endorsements? Could they build relationships with influencers to help promote their brand?

The next session looked at employee advocacy, and how to align their personal brand to the business brand. Candidates are already using tools like Glassdoor to research potential employers and find out how former employees have rated them, but more companies are investing in employee advocacy to attract talent and new customers.

Back in November 2019, Employee Social’s top ten employee advocacy brands included the staffing business Kelly Services, which worked with the Altimeter Group to develop its social strategy – which led to an increase in qualified connection requests on Linkedin and followers on Twitter.

Linzi urged the leaders in the room to roll out the personal branding exercise to all employees to determine how famous they wanted to be, how they could bring the business brand to life, and how they could promote this through their own social channels and networks. “This will help you understand which of the micro-voices in your business can enhance your brand, but also those who might be mis-aligned or undermining your brand,” she added.

The final exercise for attendees was the ‘Google fame’ test, where she asked people to swap phones with the person next to them and search for themselves on Google Images – so the results aren’t skewed by the higher ranking you would get on your own phone. 

 “BoB conducted research into the primary channels people used to research a person and a business,” said Linzi. “We found that people start with Google, then social media, then their website – so it’s important to ensure you have enough of the right content that can be easily found on Google.”

The exercise was very illuminating, not just how high people ranked but the kind of fame they had – or didn’t have, compared to their own perception as industry leaders.

Public speaking, blog writing and judging awards can all help to build your profile as a guru and your website bio should describe your expertise, credibility and purpose around your personal brand. 

Linzi’s final thought looked at the nature of fame and people’s attitudes to it. “Fame is an emotive word that puts many people off, but ask people what they want to be known for, or the difference they want to make, and they will understand the need for personal brand and becoming well-known,” she concluded. “The big question is whether you want to make a difference in your business, your industry, or the world.”