Smart branding: Look inward to engage beleaguered staff
Smart employers are directing their branding strategies inwards to engage workers who survive staff culls and to maintain positive relationships with the talent they're forced to let go, says MD of The Face, Adam Shay.
What the giants are doingInvesting heavily in human capital is the key to building and maintaining an effective company brand, says the retail banking executive vice president of PNC, one of the largest US financial services companies.
The tight economic climate means that you are driven "to create a scorecard based on financial underpinnings", says Neil Hall in the recent Strategy + Business reader, Capturing the People Advantage.
"But you still have to weight your priorities appropriately," he says. "Service quality, commitment to customers, commitment to brand. Brand is more about customers than shareholders."
PNC recruits and develops talent and implements other strategies according to customer needs, Hall says - particularly in its retail sectors.
It resists the industry trend to reduce branch numbers and front-line staff - in line with technological advancements - and hires tellers who are personable and apt at fielding questions, in addition to being fast and accurate.
"[Customers] wanted tellers they could interact with," Hall says. "So we had to reconcile our retail customers' desires with our interest in creating a highly productive and cost-efficient function."
PNC also prefers to "nurture" its own workforce.
It is often easier to replace talent than to grow and develop it, Hall concedes, but this doesn't help "to build a sustainable brand".
"You need to consider the value of growing and nurturing your own workforce inside the brand rather than poaching from your competitors," he says. "If you do the latter, you just keep cycling through talent, which makes it impossible to sustain a brand."
Investment in human capital, Hall notes, is justified by the maths. PNC uses human-capital metrics in conjunction with financial metrics and academic research to give stakeholders "a better grounding in what constitutes a sustainable formula for success".
"We use that research to architect our plans around customers and employees in a way that reflects the impact on revenue."