“One Branding” : “Uniting the Employer, Corporate & Product Experience” | BCG

Every day, the Digital-World shines a spotlight on Brand inconsistencies…Employees & potential recruits might get one impression online, customers and partners might have another experience, while investors and influencers might see an altogether different picture…The result is brand confusion or worse : “Brand Conflict ” !!

Consumers today, led by the digitally native Millennial generation (ages 18 to 34), expect much more from brands. They increasingly require a holistic and authentic experience across all the online and offline ways they interact with a company. When we surveyed them, Millennials reported that the number one way that brands can engage them is to have an “authentic purpose.” Many consumers expect to engage more actively in a two-way dialogue with brands—and the Internet gives them a megaphone to express their positive and negative opinions loudly..

The global business environment also demands more from brands. The service sector now makes up approximately 70 percent of most developed economies, and that share is even higher when it includes the many products that have a service component. People have become a critical resource for service-based industries: labor costs are higher than capital costs in many service companies..

Likewise, people have also become an essential component of branding, a field that was once highly product oriented. Brand experiences are now largely shaped by the people on the front lines who interact daily with customers and must meet their rising expectations. Employees have become, in effect, brand ambassadors. Brand management of the future requires, therefore, even fuller and more consistent engagement among the people inside and outside the company—both those who experience the brand and those who represent it..

The problem is that companies too often focus on only one or two aspects of their brand image. Many ignore employees as brand advocates or else narrowly relegate marketing communications for employees and recruits to the human resources department. People often assume that a strong product or corporate brand alone will attract candidates and customers. To become part of its customers’ lives, however, a company’s product and brands will first have to be “lived” by its employees.

To succeed, companies today must elevate employer branding to its rightful place among the other major pillars of corporate, product, and service brand management. At the same time, they must create harmony among customer experiences with the product, the company, and employees. We call this new concept of integrated, employee-powered marketing One Branding...A tight linking of all the aspects of brand management ensures that brands leverage their most significant asset—employees—to create more powerful and relevant brands for today’s changing world. One branding also significantly boosts performance..

THE REWARDS OF ONE BRANDING:

Only the harmonization of corporate, product, and employer branding ensures that everyone involved “pays into” the one-brand account, together raising the brand’s value. We have found that, in many cases, behind this success lies strong employer branding..

Companies that have strong employer brands tend to outperform those that do not. To measure the strength of employer brands, we asked students in MBA programs to rate the attractiveness of prospective employers. A BCG analysis of 39 global companies over the ten-year period from 2003 through 2012 found a positive correlation between the strength of employer brands and the average growth in total shareholder return (TSR)..

We found that the correlation between an employer’s brand and TSR was stronger at companies with a strong employer brand than at those with average or poor ratings. Moving into the top leagues of employer branding is, therefore, worthwhile not only from an HR perspective but also for its medium- to long-term impact on company value..

Not every company must be a leader in all THREE Brand-management disciplines…But all companies must gain a basic command of each, as they discover how to differentiate themselves in the areas important to their business. Only then will they achieve more integrated and consistent brands..

The Power of Employer Branding:

Even though it has become central to how a brand is experienced, employer branding is frequently the missing ingredient in achieving the promise of one branding. Employer branding represents a company’s brand promise to the people who work there, the people who want to work there, and the people the company wants to recruit. HR leaders cite employer branding as a high priority, but not even 10 percent of prospective employees during job interviews know the key elements of an employer’s brand, according to one European survey.

To succeed in today’s complex business environment and deliver a unified experience across all the brand dimensions that are important to future success—especially through its people—every company needs to define its unique advantages for employer branding and then work hard to cultivate these differentiating factors more effectively. (See Exhibit 1.)

To discern how companies are giving employer branding an equal place inside a unified brand, we interviewed executives in the European operations of ten global companies with leading brands. In our work with companies around the world, we have found these leaders’ insights to be broadly applicable to many other regions.

Consider the success of the employer-branding campaign recently launched by the adidas Group, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of sporting goods, with €14.5 billion in sales; 50,700 employees worldwide; and a brand valued at $7.5 billion by Interbrand as of 2013.

In 1998, Matthias Malessa, chief HR officer of the adidas Group, established an HR marketing department that focused on its external presentation as an employer. “Today, employer branding is a perception index of people inside the company that projects to the outside and says, ‘Check this out. This is how it looks here. If you think it looks good, join us. If not, we’re not for you”..

For the first time, the features of the campaign were developed with employees on the basis of their experiences working for adidas. The company surveyed employees of all its brands worldwide. Five main branding messages resulted…Each country has the flexibility to highlight the message that has priority for the employees there..

“More and more young employees are demanding that their voices be heard,” says Malessa. “I ask my people, ‘How do you perceive this company?’ Then I build my employer-branding story based on what they say.” For instance, one message involves social and environmental responsibility. The motto “to make the world a better place” connects this message into a unified product-, corporate-, and employer-brand strategy..

The success factor is that employees are free to share their experiences with the adidas culture online. “In the digital age, it’s important to win over your employees as brand ambassadors, but for it to function, there also have to be rules,” says Simone Lendzian, corporate communications manager. Social-media guidelines orient employees to their rights and responsibilities when communicating as brand ambassadors during work hours..

The company had a lot of discussions about whether each brand in the adidas family—which includes Reebok and Rockport in addition to adidas—needed its own employer branding. “We believe it all has to flow into one employer brand that is all-inclusive and covers the entire company,” says Malessa..

Six Guiding Principles for One Branding:

To put one branding into practice, a company must keep in mind six overarching principles about how employer branding relates to its overall brand portfolio.

Credible positioning starts with a well-defined process. At the heart of employer branding lies a convincing employer value proposition (EVP): the promise of value that employers make to their current and future employees. The emphasis should be on the uniqueness of the company. Only with a differentiated strategy can a company achieve competitive advantage.

To ensure that the EVP is relevant and differentiating, it must be based on solid data and integrated into the overall HR strategy process. First, market research compares the internal understanding of the company’s current positioning with the motivations and needs of external target segments. This is translated into a credible brand position and concrete actions and then anchored in the company’s organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. (See Exhibit 2.)

Employee motivations guide Employer Branding – to attract and retain good people, a company must appeal to both logic and emotion. Effective employer branding uses a “double perspective” of internal and external views to discover the elements of the brand experience that drive engagement among existing and prospective employees…Qualitative and quantitative market research can identify motivations that fit the brand, whereas creative techniques can uncover even deeper insights. Rather than simply delegating market research to an outside organization, all internal and external stakeholders should be invited to speak their minds through an active dialogue with the marketing, HR, and strategy departments..

Only a brand that is lived every day can be experienced – Employer branding can be only as strong as the health of the company’s culture.A true standout is the culture of Google, the world’s largest Internet company by market capitalization, with $50.8 billion in revenues; 45,000 employees worldwide; and a brand valued at $93.3 billion by Interbrand as of 2013. “Our employer value proposition is the result of our company culture as we live and experience it,” says Frank Kohl­-Boas, Google’s head of HR in northern Europe. “As our motto says, ‘Do cool things that matter.’ I am convinced that you can recruit and retain knowledge workers only if you give them the room they need to think freely and you offer them interesting work. If you do this, candidates and employees will say, ‘I can earn money elsewhere, but where else can I be a part of things, be myself, and grow ? ’”

At Google, responsibility for employer branding resides in HR, because it is understood less as a marketing task than as the management of corporate culture. A core team, under the leadership of a chief culture officer, works with local culture ambassadors who support the topic voluntarily in addition to their core jobs. The goals are to find the right people to hire, to ensure the internal multiplication of knowledge, and to provide the freedom for product discovery and invention..

“We don’t do any big marketing campaigns—neither for recruiting nor for Google as a brand,” says Kohl­-Boas. “Instead, we invest in employees who develop the brand. We trust that a lot of people will come into contact with our products and associate the company with the quality of our products. If users like our products, the customers and shareholders will come.”

Employees are the best brand ambassadors – The most authentic sources of employer branding are employees who can communicate credibly about the company and make its culture tangible..

Consider eBay, well-known as a global leader in online retailing and payments, with $16 billion in revenues; 30,000 employees worldwide; and a brand valued at $13.2 billion by Interbrand as of 2013. At eBay, employee referrals are the most important recruiting component by far. “When you shape your employer branding out of the culture and put your people at the center of it, the advantage is that you can motivate them to channel their pride by recommending the company,” says Tobias Hübscher, eBay’s senior manager, European employee communications.

“Referral campaigns save headhunter fees and ad campaign costs and helped us get budget for employer branding and resources for talent acquisition,” he adds. “Basically, we see referrals as being a lot more effective and working better in the recruiting process.”

Social media is only one tool in the toolbox –  Despite all the hype about social-media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, every channel must be closely analyzed for its benefits and risks. If a company does not have confidence that it can present itself authentically and engage in open dialogue with consumers through certain mediums, it should not use them until the advantages outweigh any potential damage.

The social-media strategy is well defined at Heineken International, the world’s third-largest brewing company, with €19.2 billion in revenues; 85,000 employees worldwide; and a brand valued at $4.3 billion by Interbrand as of 2013. “When it comes to social media, you have to know exactly what you want,” says Dario Gargiulo, global social-media manager at Heineken International. “A lot of companies do social media only because they think it’s good to have a presence everywhere. Instead, you have to use every social channel differently and with a specific aim. You must take the time to find out which channel should be used for which message.”

Gargiulo recommends focusing on the brand message and consumer attitudes on social media rather than communicating all of the company’s activities. “In social media, you immediately get consumer reactions about what’s important and what’s not,” he says. “It’s about the connection with real life.”

To integrate brand management disciplines tightly, stay loose – The players in one branding are less like a conductor-led orchestra than a leaderless jazz band. In the latter, the optimal combination of players is more important than who leads at any point in time. Well-executed examples of one branding show that there is no universal solution: although HR is often in charge—for instance, at BMW and adidas—several companies we studied maintain an ongoing, constructive conversation among the different components of branding, including marketing, communications, strategy, and HR. The corporate brand often takes the lead when the path forward is not clear.

At eBay, employer branding is jointly managed by the HR, talent acquisition, communications, and marketing departments and covers all eBay brands. Both internal employer culture and external campaigns are steered by communications in the local country unit.

Regardless of the organization design, marketing and HR must work together as equals. Each of the functions has plenty to contribute: HR has the competencies needed for strategic personnel planning and the ongoing development of company culture. And marketing can bring its “detective skills” to the table—by feeling out and establishing a unique positioning for employees and job applicants..

The era of one branding is dawning. Employer, corporate, and product branding will only grow more closely integrated..

Although we see no one-size-fits-all strategy that can address all the challenges ahead, we have observed this about the leaders: one branding works only if executives in charge of HR and the brand disciplines make it their common goal and have the courage and flexibility to work together.

Companies that are willing to cross organization boundaries and experiment with this new approach now will discover the proven benefits of one branding. Those that do not move in this direction risk falling behind their more integrated and nimble competitors..!!

How “Indian QSRs are going social ? ” | by: Nusra | Restaurant India

Indian Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) segment has seen many New Brands making inroads into the market…Indian QSR market has remained largely unaffected by the economic slowdown and touched nearly around $50 billion from Rs $35 billion in 2013. The segment is growing at a very fast pace…!!

Brands on demand:

Indian fast food majors like Cafe Coffee Day, Yo! China, Haldiram’s, Nirulas, Sagar Ratna and Bikanervala have met all the global necessities to meet the demands of the local customers, who are becoming an adaptor of global QSR outlets. Not only this, the regional QSR chains like Shiv Sagar, Bangs and Ammi’s Biryani created a milestone in competing to their foreign counterparts, but have also adapted their strategies on how to target the over growing demands of their customers..

Meanwhile, we have seen that, global players have tweaked their menu keeping in mind the taste and preferences of Indian customers. We have seen that major global QSR chains, which are entering India, have to localise their offerings before establishing themselves here..

Indian chains have now realised that people here are rushing towards convenience and value that these QSR chains offer and there is a wide gap in the market in terms of authentic Indian Cuisine being served in a quick service format and thus, they ventured into Indian QSR segment to address the local customers with its Innovative concept.

“The Usp of Hello Curry is ‘Indian Food with western quick service efficiency’, many of the QSRs present nationwide today are catering a niche with western products. Hello Curry will be unique with its positioning as the first QSR with complete range of Indian cuisine,” says P Sandeep, Co-Founder, Hello Curry..

Placing it Right :

Quick service is one of the challenges Indian QSR players are facing with Indian food, as the main preparation itself takes 15 to 20 minutes for preparing a dish. The restaurants have to innovate on processes and technology to develop ways to serve a customer flat in 2 minutes across the counter or 30 minutes in case of a home delivery.

After years of learning from global players, Indian QSRs are now quick to adapt to social media. They are now trying their hands at cracking the social recipe to success by posting new recipes on Facebook and Twitter or promoting it through Instagram and they are becoming quite close to cracking the code of the social marketing strategy which entered India via global route.

“As we are all young entrepreneurs, we are from the tech world of today. Hence, social media is one of the biggest assets of marketing. We are available on Facebook, Instagram, Zomato and we are connecting our consumers through WhatsApp. We are also doing PR and media activities, but I am not in the mainline PR advertising because I believe that word-of mouth is the best tool for advertising, where food works as a marketing tool itself,” says Sachet Shah, Go Panda (one of the partner).

While many international chains have set its footprint across the country, the Indian home grown chains have fought bravely to catch up with them. Cafe Coffe Day, Yo! China and Haldiram’s have set the traditional scene in India and are also leveraging social media by rightly placing themselves in the social gathering.

“There are many reasons for the success of our restaurant. But the major reason is that we operate in the Chinese food segment, which is the most desired cuisine among youth as they are the main consumers today. When we talk about eating out trend, I think we are operating in a segment which is massively catering to the youth. We create fun at our restaurant, we are value for money restaurant, our restaurants are trendy, we offer innovation and are present at the right location. The strategies help us gain an edge over others. We are here for 11 years building brand because brand brings consistency and the ability to stay requires time,” shares Ashish, MD & Co-Founder, Yo! China.

Thus, we can say that the growing trend in the QSR segment is becoming more of a social engagement rather than restaurants coming up with new products and keeping it to their specific target group…!! 

The “State of Strategy Today” : Good strategy is worth doing well | A.T. Kearney

In a study performed, we found a strong correlation between a company’s total shareholder returns (TSR) and its planning horizon…Those with longer horizons saw stronger returns than those with shorter…!!

We were not surprised then when our latest strategy study found a similar correlation. Only this time, the comparisons are between successful and unsuccessful strategies. Of companies with longer strategy cycles—five years or more—85 percent see beneficial results. For companies whose strategy cycles are less than five years, 53 percent are successful. Interestingly, there is little difference between companies that take an ad-hoc approach to strategy (46 percent) and those with planned strategy cycles of less than five years (47 percent)…

This last point is reassuring, as it suggests that a properly executed strategy is worth pursuing. Just 6 percent of companies have strategy cycles of more than 5 years. It can be argued that strategy cycles are more important in today’s competitive environment or, as one study participant says, “To succeed today, we need to innovate, and innovation requires strategy and commitment. So it makes sense that committing to a strategy over time results in success over time”…

Strategy is more difficult now..When working on consulting engagements, our clients sometimes complain that it’s much harder now to craft powerful and easy-to-communicate strategies. “Strategy formulation and deployment is a complex, moving target,” explains one CEO. Another blames the difficulties on what she calls “an ever-changing business environment that requires spending more resources on strategy.” Our study findings reflect the same frustrations: 62 percent of business executives say strategy has become more complicated over the past decade, and 74 percent say complexity forces them to spend more time and effort on strategy formulation. Yet, despite these increased efforts, 46 percent of strategies fail to meet expectations..

Interestingly, C-suite executives are much more optimistic about the effectiveness of their companies’ strategies than those in management…Indeed, 81 percent of executives believe their strategies are meeting or exceeding expectations, while 48 percent of those at the management level are less optimistic (see figure 3). Further, this C-Suite misconception is even greater for companies that are lagging their peers as almost 100 percent of executives believe their strategies are working just fine, while management is much more skeptical..

Agility to the rescue – maybe It is commonly accepted that today’s business environments are fast changing and dynamic, and much more so than just a few decades ago. These tumultuous conditions have caused some executives to question whether strategy is even possible anymore. Isn’t a strategy outdated before it can be implemented? Aren’t we better off to focus on agility in order to capitalize on emerging trends faster than peers? These are some of the questions we heard. We put this thinking to the test with surprising results: More than 80 percent of global executives consider agility as important, or more important, than strategy when it comes to securing a company’s future success. And only a slim 19 percent believe a strategy-induced competitive advantage is still possible (see figure 4). In the minds of business leaders, it appears that strategy is failing…

figure4

However, a deeper dive into the survey data finds that “agility as a substitute for strategy” notion is flawed. We wonder if it isn’t simply a self-fulfilling prophesy :  Those who believe agility is the foundation for success have failing strategies, while those who believe strategy is a source of competitive advantage, have exceptionally successful strategies. The more interesting question, which begs further investigation, is in which direction the causality flows: Do companies have trouble formulating and deploying strategies and so turn to agility? Or, does a focus on agility as the answer to today’s challenges lead to the demise of strategy? Does a string of successful strategies mean strategy is the answer to all that ails an organization ??

What’s to blame for strategy failure?

Judging by the responses of our study participants, strategy failure is an emotional topic. One participant puts it this way : “In large organizations, strategy formulation is too complex and too top-down, leaving the rest of the organization to play catch up. And before they can do so, the next strategy is being rolled out.” Another says: “Strategic planning often takes place in an ivory tower by individuals who haven’t a clue what happens at the implementation level.” These and other comments suggest that the interface—the handover—between strategy formulation and deployment is to blame for failed strategies. Our findings confirm this. When asked to identify the trigger of a failed strategy, 7 percent of executives point to formulation, 6 percent point to deployment, and 86 percent say it is a mix of the two (see figure 5)..

figure5

Strategy formulation: What goes wrong?

If there is ever a need for knowledge, experience, and preparation, it is during strategy formulation. When asked about their strategy formulation failures, most executives complain that it is an insufficiently inspired, unrealistic, impractical, and detached process :

  • Lack of understanding of future trends (88%)
  • Little understanding of internal capabilities (87%)
  • Too much top-down approach (84%)
  • Not enough logical thinking (84%)

One interesting finding is the conflicting perspectives about the role data analysis plays in a failed strategy formulation process. Some blame “too much data analyses” while others say there is “not enough data analyses.” The reasons for the different views depends on the participants’ backgrounds. For example, many in the too-much-data group have firsthand experience in data analyses of the “boiling the ocean” type—in which substantial efforts yield few real insights. The other group is accustomed to formulating strategy using strategy statements that are not backed by sound financial justification or based on quantifiable competitive opportunities..

Several study participants consider secrecy an issue…“The C-suite is afraid competitors will learn our strategy and so do not involve middle-level managers as much as they should in developing the strategy,” explains a manager. “Clearly, keeping our organization as much in the dark as our competitors about our strategy is not a fast lane to success”..

Strategy deployment: What goes wrong?

Many of the reasons for failed strategy formulation are also attributed to failed deployments. For example, a strategy might be too ambitious and broad for the organization, too narrow to cope with the full breadth of changing market conditions, or deployed from an impractical top-down perspective. “Strategy deployment is now our greatest challenge,” explains a CEO. “Market conditions require a more aggressive strategy, but execution has not changed.”

Not surprisingly, reasons for failed deployments have more to do with the handover between strategy formulation and deployment:

  • Lack of internal understanding of the strategy (90%)
  • Lack of internal capabilities to execute the strategy (90%)
  • Lack of ownership (86%)

This makes for bewildered, disenfranchised, overwhelmed, and under-supported deployments. As one manager admits, “We underestimate the combined effects of overlapping initiatives on the same group of people”..

Gauging the future –

Study participants largely agree that a better understanding of future trends is a prerequisite for sound strategy formulation: “Our strategies fail at the development stage because we do not accurately determine where the market is heading in the next three to five years.”

Not surprisingly, over the last decade many companies have increased use of future-focused tools such as fore-sighting, trend analyses, and scenario planning (see figure 6)..

Organizational inclusiveness –

Involving the organization in strategy formulation resolves the handover issue between formulation and deployment. “Strategy that doesn’t make it out of the boardroom isn’t really strategy,” admits an executive. “Attempting to make it purely process-driven overlooks the importance of the ‘goodwill’ factor—the people who actually deploy the strategy because they buy into it, and not just because it is their job to deliver it.” Our findings break down this thinking into a number of distinct points. At the base, is the conviction that involving more people with firsthand experience in dealing with markets, customers, competitors, processes, and suppliers makes for better and more practical strategies.

“Bringing in a general workforce opinion helps management make more informed decisions,” says a manager. “All levels of the organization can contribute to strategy formulation and implementation. Middle management and the workforce provide practical input.” Organizational involvement is also essential for making strategies sufficiently ambitious. As one executive says, “The most important area for innovation in achieving goals and targets are the skills and knowledge of staff. Without these, the top-down approach is doomed to mediocrity.”

Our findings back up these observations : Two thirds of companies that pursue meaningful organizational inclusion in strategy formulation have successful strategies. Yet, involving the workforce doesn’t just make strategies better and more practical, it also lays the groundwork for engaging the right people in strategy deployment: “We involve our people at all levels in strategy development and find that innovation and diversity of ideas are pluses, both in adopting change and in people acting as change agents. An engaged individual is more resourceful than one who is simply employed.”

Organizational involvement is not a panacea. It provides innovation and practicality and, while it does not really affect speed, it does make things more complex (see figure 7). As one CEO says: “Consultation can be a bit of a pain and slow down a good planning operation, but the results following the consultation can make the extra time well worth it”..

figure7

Strategy needs to be led- 

not just decided on Despite the virtues of organizationally inclusive strategy formulation, the complexity that accompanies it can be an issue. For this reason, inclusive strategy requires top-down leadership, with top management establishing the ideas, ground rules, organizational teams, and direction that are critical for middle and lower management. Strategy, at its best, becomes less of a decision and more of a direction to inspire the organization to follow—not once, but on an ongoing basis.

As one CEO says : “Strategy & Leadership go hand-in-hand, you can’t have one without the other”…!!