A longstanding pet peeve of mine is the term “work-life balance”. Or questions which reference each term in isolation… “How is work life these days?” or “How are you managing your personal life?”
Truth: I am one person.
At any given moment I am performing an activity (or much to my husband’s chagrin multiple activities, simultaneously). Sometimes the activity is for my professional role which I get rewarded for in money, purpose and emotional satisfaction. Sometimes the activity is for a chosen role which I get rewarded for in love, fun, pride or joy. They are not two separate lives.
I get triggered in a similar way when I hear company leaders talk in mutually exclusive terms about their talent brand (employer brand) AND their corporate brand.
Here’s a little not so new secret… You have ONE brand.
Some corporations have a parent brand / sub-brand architecture, in which case it IS possible to have many brands under one roof. However, there are never two brands inside a single entity. It is one brand, simply experienced by different audiences in pursuit of different tasks.
Here is an illustration of what I’ve witnessed play out in so many companies I’ve either worked for or worked with:
We believe there stands a lot to be gained by companies who embrace this integrated thinking in the development of their brand, and subsequently build collaborative, horizontal activation strategies that serve recruits, employees and customer simultaneously:
According to one study conducted by Lippincott and LinkedIn, companies who aligned their corporate and talent brands enjoyed 36+% more cumulative growth over a 5 year period than their rivals who did not get the memo.
Most companies employ several people to optimize, protect and express its brand in an official capacity (we’ll call them brand-as-role employees- BAREs, for the sake of simplicity). These people often sit in different departments based on the nature of the audience they are there to serve. It does not mean they are creating their own “versions” of the brand.
Why then is conflict, unawareness, tension, disconnect or even “disapproval” such common descriptors of the relationships that exist (or don’t exist) between these BAREs? I am not a psychologist, but I would take this on as a fascinating experiment if I were. I’ve been asked to run 60-minute webinars purely to help talent brand managers in HR get a simple response from a customer brand manager in Marketing. To be fair, it happens in reverse too. (In case there is any doubt, it is worth mentioning that both of their paychecks have the same brand listed in the upper left corner.)
Is this REALLY the world we live in now?
Come on troops, let’s do better.
I know, it’s not easy. I’ve been there- super “busy”, lots of deadlines, cultural oppression, disappearing budgets, daycare called, coffee machine is broken… STRESS. Some researchers have actually coined the term “short fuse syndrome” to explain the decrease in our stress resistance during periods of extended or intense stress.
But this should not be an excuse for flawed logic.
Or for treating other human beings the same way you do a physical piece of junk mail.
Let’s acknowledge we have one brand, it is shared between Marketing, HR, Finance, Real Estate, Business leaders, employees, recruits, customers, and many others. If you are lucky enough to be employed as a person officially responsible for its optimization, fulfill that responsibility with grace, compassion, and maturity. Seek assistance and give assistance to your fellow counterparts, regardless of their reporting line. Invite others to contribute ideas, share learnings, align strategies and offer feedback about your priority brand initiatives. Run your own version of an insight-driven collaboration session. And for crying out loud if nothing else, respond to an email about your shared interest (or get REALLY wild and have a 15 minute conversation about it).
Your brand (singular) will benefit.
And so will you (singular).