Kevin Roberts Branding Advice Applied to Human Capital Planning

I am sitting this week at the World Business Forum in NYC, listening to world leaders in innovation and business, translating for our clients, partners, and advisors.

I will make comments on several speakers, but lets talk about how Kevin Roberts’s ideas on branding and how they can be extended into employer branding. Kevin has all the props in branding – CEO Pepsi Cola Canada, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi, Author of Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, and so on. He is a doer, writer, and academic in the brand/ marketing space, and most would think it has nothing to do with human capital planning, but they would be wrong.

It just takes a human capital lense to translate how relevant those brand principles are. Being a former brand guy myself does not hurt either.

Brand Point 1: Find the Joy. He talks about companies need to face the truth, the concept of delivering Priceless Value (see his latest blog at and that companies need to find the joy in the product (so the customers can find it easily).

Human Capital Interpretation : “Find the Joy” in your company. What is going to be the reason why people are going to jump out of bed each day and speed to their desk. It is Innovation? Passion? Growth? Free Thinking? I don’t know what it is for you, but find it, celebrate it, and share it openly. Your organization will have people working there longer, harder, and better.

Brand Point 2: Ask yourself if you want to see “it” again, and if you want to share “it”. Whatever the “it” is. He was referencing the brand, the media, the products, and the ideas.

Human Capital Interpretation: I think workforce and human capital planning is a different “it”. It is the work itself. That is your company’s human capital product. Does your workforce want to see it, do it, and share what they do? After you interface with a prospective employee, temp, contingent worker, consultant, or vendor (anyone performing work) – do they want to interface with you again? Are they waiting with baited breath to work with you or engage again? More importantly – are they going to share that experience favorably. Before you say “of course Andrew”…prove it. Write down three reasons you know this to be true. Then ask yourself how many times those ideas are shared when engage your workforce.

Brand Point 3: We have moved from an attraction economy to a participating economy.

Human Capital: Totally relevant. Employer branding has elements of attraction, but the goal is not to get one great candidate with desire and capability – it is to get one great candidate that has the capability and desire, have them prove they can flourish, and have them shape the organization to attract more.  If you are using strategies that are just one to one (cold calling) or one to many (postings) in getting your workforce recruited, you are behind. Get to many to many (communities, sharing, networks, referrals) fast.

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