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Brand delivery starts at home: authors Sartain and Schumann argue that successful companies develop loyalty among customers by first engaging their employees.

"Any business, in any corner of the world, must create an experience to engage its employees before it can expect those employees to deliver the brand to customers. The key to employer brand is tapping the emotional essence of the company and its brand and using that emotional essence to frame and articulate the employee experience."

That is the core message of Brand from the Inside: Eight Essentials to Emotionally Connect Your Employees to Your Business. Libby Sartain, senior vice president of human resources and "Chief People Yahoo" for Yahoo!, and Mark Schumann, ABC, former global communications practice leader for the consulting firm Towers Perrin, give a compelling argument for the benefits of employer branding and present a structured approach to building your employer brand. Aligning employees for brand delivery, they say, is critical to maintaining the consistent experience that is the foundation of strong brands.

Each chapter explores one of the eight "essentials," from Discover and Commit to Market and Nurture. Easy to read and loaded with examples from the authors' own experience, the book is a thorough and detailed primer for employer branding. Supported by research conducted at Yahoo! and by third parties, Sartain and Schumann build a strong case for the power of the employer brand to strengthen the business and meet strategic goals.

I was delighted to see several brand "truisms" in their discussion. Here are five that stood out:

* If you are in business, you have a brand, which is why we must be intentional in managing the brand.

* Brands are adhesive--all customer/employee experiences stick to the brand.

* It takes more than HR, communications and marketing to build an employer brand; you have to include the rest of the company too.

* Brands must be authentic if they are to connect with people (and employees can smell "spin" from a mile away).

* Brands must support the business strategy.

Another truism that Sartain and Schumann espouse is the importance of executive leadership in embracing and living the brand. Unfortunately, they don't go much beyond acknowledging the importance of this. The book that actually gives pragmatic and effective ways to educate, motivate and commit upper management to the brand will be the real blockbuster, and this is not it.

The authors frame the brand's role as simplifying choice for consumers as well as employees. They write further that the role of the employer brand is connecting "what happens outside to what happens inside," and that employer brand might be the "secret sauce" that creates a corporate Nirvana of strong performance and profitability. While I am not willing to go that far, I do believe that Brand from the Inside holds many of the key ingredients necessary for developing and maintaining loyal customers and devoted employees. And that is a recipe we should all want to have.

about the book

Brand from the Inside: Eight Essentials to Emotionally Connect Your Employees to Your Business by Libby Sartain and Mark Schumann, Jossey-Bass, 2006, 272 pages

about the reviewer

Debra Semans is senior vice president of Polaris Marketing Research and a noted lecturer on branding and especially aligning organizations for optimal brand delivery.
COPYRIGHT 2007 International Association of Business Communicators
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Author:Semans, Debra
Publication:Communication World
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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