Brand power permeates nearly every aspect of our lives. Why do we choose an iPhone over a far cheaper but equally specced out competitor? Why do we look at an Audi as a superior car to a Skoda even though they are built on the same chassis and often have the same engine? Why do we pay twice as much for our tomato ketchup than we need to?
It’s the power of the badge. The brand. It’s what it says about us, how it makes us feel. It’s a powerful thing.
But what truly defines a brand?
A brand is simply a collection of perceptions and experiences built up over time around products and services. The key lies in perception – what people believe a brand represents, not just what the brand claims.
To make your brand a genuine reflection of your identity, it takes more than developing a brand proposition, identity, and the toolkits. It’s about bringing it to life in the minds of your audience, shaping a perception that aligns with your true essence. It’s as much about the activation of your brand as your brand itself. After all, if you don’t activate properly then either people won’t know anything about you and have no perception of you at all, or you will let the wrong perception build up. Something that isn’t aligned to who you really are. Once that happens, it’s hard to get it back because in the realm of branding, perception is reality.
This holds true for employer brands as well. Employers work hard to create cultures that enable people to grow and develop. They put the hard yards in working with agencies to conduct research, find insights, and develop propositions that bring those cultures to life through fantastic creative executions. It’s one of the most important things employers can and should do. Most likely there will also be a website refresh with the new content and often an internal launch where everyone agrees it’s a great representation of who they are as employers, building a sense of pride. And rightly so.
However, the question remains: how do we construct these narratives and perceptions with our target audience?
The answer lies in activation. It’s about being present where your audience frequents, creating content they want in a format that works for them and when they need it. Yet, in an ever-evolving landscape, mastering these aspects is easier said than done. Consider just a few of these vital considerations.
74% of Gen Z uses TikTok for search with over half preferring TikTok to Google as the number one search engine – this is down to the video format of the results, the relatable and personalised answers.
- In the UK, the time spent on TikTok is staggering – 27 hours per month. If you compare that to the average 19.5 hours per month 16-24 year olds spend watching TV, then the shift becomes even more dramatic.
- Zero click search is on the rise, representing a shift in user behaviour where answers are obtained from snippets or headlines. With the emergence of generative AI (genAI) in search results, this will only become more prevalent. Why is this important to understand? GenAI retrieves content from diverse sources compared to traditional search results. Early studies suggest that only 50% of genAI results could be found on the first page of conventional search results.
- In a landscape where 77% of marketers report a decline in trust in brand content (Source: IAS Pulse Survey), finding new ways to build trust becomes even more important. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional marketing, seeing an impressive 11 times higher ROI. At TMP Worldwide, we have seen this power with our many influencer campaigns delivering powerful results across awareness, applications, and diversity.
How can you navigate these challenges and more?
As owners and drivers of employer brands, you require a partner who can help you understand the changes and remain at the forefront of your target candidate’s decision-making processes. Today’s employer brands must be built to live and thrive in digital and social spaces. I don’t mean pop in for a coffee on the wings of a paid social ad – but truly live and thrive in these spaces. We must craft narratives and experiences that authentically represent our brands where our target audiences hang out.
After all, it’s our job to ensure perception and reality tell the truth about our brands.