That infamous question – What’s in a name? As we tragically found out, a lot. A name can carry thoughts, feelings and ideas that may or may not accurately reflect the subject. For employers, the name of their company holds a lot of weight when it comes to the attraction of quality talent. A name can either deter or entice job seekers to find out more, apply and ultimately invest in the organization with their time, dedication and talents.

How can business owners ensure their organizations don’t meet the same terrible fate as the lovers who asked that loaded question? What’s in a name? Well, first they have to realize just how important their name is to job seekers. The average employer doesn’t have a realistic grasp of the bottom line impact of being an employer of choice, or transversely, being an employer with a bad reputation. So, here are a couple of eye-opening stats from LinkedIn’s masterpiece, “The Employer Brand Handbook”:

  • A strong talent brand reduces cost-per-hire by up to 50%.
  • A strong talent brand can also slash turnover rates by as much as 28%.

Yeah, I snuck in a new term. LinkedIn defines the talent brand as such:

“Your talent brand is the highly social, totally public version of your employer brand that incorporates what talent thinks, feels, and shares about your company as a place to work.”

It’s your reputation, your impact – your name. The talent brand is where the rubber meets the road – where reality and perception meet to uncover actionable improvements to your human capital management and recruiting efforts. Creating and maintaining a talent brand isn’t just about how you would like your audience to view your organization, but infusing that ideal with the current reality of your audience’s opinion. Instead of just pushing out a message (employer branding), talent branding requires a long, hard honest look at the current state of your employee satisfaction and engagement.

Building and maintaining a talent brand

Get back to values

Can the company values be felt, seen or heard anywhere in the office place? Have they even been established and communicated? Probably not. The Boston Research Group surveyed thousands of US workers and found only 3% of those surveyed described their company’s values as a form of “self-governance”. Again, a talent brand is about more than pushing out a message, it’s about how to get buy-in on that message. Conduct an executive overview of the organizational values, and then infuse every square inch of that workspace.

Empower through goals

The issue most leaders have with empowering their employees lies in performance management. Leaders find that the second they loosen the reigns everything rapidly deteriorates. Leaders then quickly learn to never try that again, and become more steadfast in their micromanaging ways, which in turn stifles and devalues employees. There is a better, more strategic approach to empowerment, and it’s goal-centric.

Currently, only about 14% of organizations report their employees have a good understanding of their company’s strategy and direction. No wonder it’s like wrangling an octopus every time leaders take their hands off the controls. Focus on establishing and communicating goals on every rung of the corporate ladder.

Invest in ambassadors

Not everyone is go to buy into your values, not everyone is going to care in the least about your organizational goals, but some will, and those are the people you need to create a cyclically supportive relationship with. It’s not difficult to find out who they are; they are engaged, they put forth discretionary effort and their connection with the organization trickles into their personal lives whether it be through employee referrals, social media support or simply saying “I love my job,” when a friend or stranger asks.

This doesn’t go to say you should ignore your haters, but focusing on your ambassadors is simply the smarter plan of attack. Treat their referrals like gold, acknowledge and reward their extra effort and encourage their internal career development.

The message that your organization is an “awesome place to work” has never cut it, and it never will. Even those workplaces winning awards for employee satisfaction have lost the trust of their audience. Quality talent needs a little more persuading -they need a real life, honest talent brand.

Bio: Maren Hogan

Maren Hogan is a community builder and seasoned marketer in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, a full-service marketing and advertising agency serving the HR and Recruiting sectors. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the recruitment and talent space.

You can read more of her work on,,,, Forbes, Entrepreneur and the Glassdoor and Peoplefluent blogs. Follow her on twitter @marenhogan — she’s funnier there.

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