Most of us do not care about brands, but when the brands make us feel something, we start to care. Great brands are those that advocate for important things. They do that because they have something they want to change. And as customers, we want to be part of that change.
Airbnb has a lofty ambition; it wants to make a change in people’s lives. Hence despite its early success, it went through a rebranding exercise to clarify its brand purpose, and communicate itself succinctly to its target audience.
Let’s take a peek into Airbnb’s brand strategy blueprint and see what we can learn from them.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a renowned travel website that helps people all over the world find, list, and rent lodging (from treehouses to castles). The brand is currently operating in more than 190 countries and 65,000 cities, with over 150,000,000 guests (as of April 2017). Therefore, there is no doubt the brand has grown significantly over a period of only 8 years. It is a great success story of the “sharing economy”. This makes many of us wonder how Airbnb became such a large organisation. The answer is simple: the brand has worked hard on its branding efforts since its inception, and is now a master in digital marketing!
It has managed to create a powerful combination of paid, earned, and owned media to sell the brand’s key values, mission, and objectives. In particular, the company’s “owned media” strategy is what has led to massive traffic to its blogs, social media, and website, hence resulting in its explosive growth.
With great ambitions, the brand was relaunched in July 2014 with the big idea “belonging”. The company spent immense amount of resources to communicate its brand purpose, both internally and externally. Its brand purpose not only has attracted more customers, but also partners and employees.
To reinforce the brand promise of “Belonging anywhere”, Airbnb centralized hospitality-education effort, set up an online community center where hosts could learn and share best practices. In addition, mentoring programs were developed wherein experienced hosts could teach new ones good hospitality.
The success can also be owed to the CEO and co-founder of the brand, Brian Chesky who lives and breathes the brand, well he still rents out his couch for $50! Brian once said “Our vision for Airbnb isn’t just ambitious. It’s historic. We want to be the next global super brand”. His is the brand champion and speaks widely to share the Airbnb’s brand philosophy to anyone who is willing to listen.
Today Airbnb has achieved phenomenal growth, and to penetrate the challenging China market, Airbnb launched the brand in March 2017 with a new Chinese brand name called ‘Aibiying’ (爱彼迎), which means “welcome each other with love”.
Lets take a peek at Airbnb’s brand strategy blueprint.
Three Key Takeaways from Airbnb
- A clear brand purpose – Having a clear brand purpose affects what you focus on. It affects how you carry yourself. It affects the quality of people who want to work for you, which is probably the ultimate game-changer. Brian Chesky and his founders were the brand champions and their focus allows them to form new partnerships all over the world.
- Cascade, cascade, cascade – To get the most leverage out of your brand, employees and partners (in this case the hosts) need to have an understanding of Airbnb’s brand promise and be able to deliver the brand promise.
- A brand strategy blueprint – You need to have a map before you enter the jungle, successful brands do not happen by chance. A clear brand strategy blueprint is the key to long term brand growth and sustainability.
March 17, 2017
You may have probably observed the buzz surrounding employer branding in recent times. We have also seen articles, blogs, press releases, and forums detailing the steps to success, as well as tips for measuring your employer brand, which has emerged as an important topic in Employee Retention. However, there is one question that still remains unanswered: why are companies still not investing in employer branding?
Well, the benefits of employer branding are quite obvious for most businesses. However, not all brands are aware of the key guidelines for attracting and retaining the best talent in the market. As a result, they have to face numerous challenges and end up spending too much time on external branding rather than internal branding, hence hindering their business’ ability to increase Employee Value Proposition or retain the best talent in the industry.
To understand this better, let’s take a look at the challenges faced by businesses when it comes to employer branding, the mindsets (and dangers of such thinking), and the rewards of successful employer branding:
Challenges Faced in Employer Branding
Today, employers face greater challenges than ever in attracting the right mix of talent, especially as the economy allows for a move from survival to growth mode.
This means, businesses looking to expand and diversify their services and products will be required to hire people with skills and expertise their brand was never designed to draw! Employers cannot carry on doing what they have always done. They cannot use the same traditional principles, strategies, or tips and have to focus on the new ways of marketing a brand, which includes providing value to customers and EMPLOYEES. Branding has to be considered with a universal appeal that caters to both audiences.
This is one of the main reasons why many employers face difficulties in developing employer brands. They have always been so focused on attracting customers that they don’t have any idea how to attract QUALITY employees. But this doesn’t mean businesses cannot take a stand. They simply have to stop chasing common stereotypes and adapt a ‘lure the best and deflect the rest’ mindset.
Apart from this, they must find tools to track conversions, leverage every communication vehicle in their marketing strategy, create an ideal employee culture, establish a brand ambassador approach, find the right partner/agency to work with, engage people behind their employer brand, and consider the employer brand through the total employment lifecycle.
The Mindset of Companies
One research revealed approximately 78% of businesses engaged in employer branding over the last three years, but their initiatives only seemed to attract more candidates, rather than high quality candidates. During those three years, only 28% of businesses were able to attract better candidates with the median number of applicants rising by 33%.
One survey conducted revealed that 36% of global firms reported a shortage in talent. Among this 36%, Japan ranked the highest with four out of every five managers experiencing difficulties in filling open positions and retaining the best employees. So, why are these percentages of attracting high quality, hardworking employees low?
The answer is that companies do not have the proper mindset for employer branding. They believe Employer Branding is simply the process of attracting more candidates, when it is actually about drawing BETTER quality employees. These businesses also dive into social recruiting, without developing a refined employee value proposition.
Subsequently, instead of identifying and putting into practice a unique set of attributes, qualities, and values aligned with their corporate brand, they simply end up creating a campaign that drives CUSTOMERS rather than EMPLOYEES. Not only does this result in a lack of control over their image (making it nearly impossible to formulate an effective social recruitment strategy), but it also results in decreased employee retention and many other risks, which include:
Dangers of This Mindset
Losing The Talent War
Believe it or not, there is a war out there between businesses for attracting highly motivated, experienced, and knowledgeable talent. With a mindset that isn’t tailored for drawing the best candidates, you risk your businesses attracting poor employees. This means, you lost the talent war and end up with employees that lack the important skills to take your brand to the next level. Keep in mind that any ideal employer brand strategy will entail examining the market and creating an employee value proposition that attracts only the BEST talent.
Attracting Poor Candidates
This goes hand-in-hand with the abovementioned risk. Of course, you do end up losing the talent war, but what’s even more dangerous is that by attracting poor culturally fit employees there is absolutely no chance of your business surviving in the marketplace. On the other hand, competitors that have successfully implemented employer branding and attract the best and most culturally fit job candidates will gain success and be able to expand their business both locally and internationally.
Lack of Employee Evangelists
There is no doubt that employee referrals are an integral aspect of every great social recruitment plan. Since your mindset disagrees with the main principles of employer branding, this could end up with the negative perception of you as an employer. Employees will not have a positive feel about you and will openly post bad reviews or comments about your organizations. This not only risks your image as an employer, but it could end up in the failure of your business. So, create employee evangelists who can further promote your brand to potential and high quality candidates.
Communicating with decisiveness, consistency, and certainly is a key factor of employer branding and social recruitment. Typically, social media works even better when there is only ONE core message. However, since most businesses aren’t aware of the basic principles and the main mindset of employer branding, they may end up creating messages that are either inconsistent or irrelevant to their brand values, principles, or objectives.
Not only does this hinder your Employee Value Proposition, but it also reduces your reputation online. Make sure your EVP is absolutely clear, sums up the employees total work experience, and highlights clear benefits for joining your business. Also, determine a consistent tone and style that best resonates with and attracts your target audience.
Compromised Brand Authenticity
Since most companies believe or have the mindset that employer branding is simply the process of attracting more candidates and NOT better candidates, they end up creating messages and a brand look that is contrary to how the public perceives them. This results in compromised brand authenticity and decreased engaging of followers and potential employees. Therefore, make certain you clearly understand the aspects of employer branding and then create a social media voice that perfectly aligns with your brand personality.
Power of Employer Branding
Large Pool of Interested Candidates
A brand that successfully utilizes employer branding has the ability to attract a larger pool of interested and talented individuals whose preferences and values align with the perspectives and main objectives of your business. Since successful employer brands also strategically project certain attributes (like flexibility to work remotely, a casual office culture, a supportive mentorship program), they can also easily appeal to different target groups to approach their organization. Not only does this allow potential candidates to eagerly approach your business, but it also reduces the need for investing in internal recruitment efforts (as your employees will do this expensive task for YOU).
Increased Revenue Growth and Reduced Staff Turnover
Businesses with a strong employer brand are more likely to attract customers to purchase their products and services. This is mainly because people look at the efforts of your company and develop a positive perception about your brand. Besides, when people spend money, they generally like knowing whether or not a company is reputable and treats their employees well.
You can take a look at iconic companies like Nike, Starbucks, Google, and Apple, as examples. Regardless, by developing a positive reputation, brands are more likely to benefit from increased revenue growth and reduced staff turnover. This is because you will have a talented, trustworthy, and committed pool of EMPLOYEES!
Healthy Competitiveness in Company Culture
Since a successful employer brand focuses on encouraging employees and showing that they are an important part of their organization, they are able to develop a high level of motivation. This increased level of motivation amongst employees thus encourages a healthy competitiveness in the company’s culture, making people more capable of developing complex issues and deliver 100% productivity. This also helps employees feel confident and reliable in their work and results in an overall sense of COMMITMENT, which is crucial for any organization’s success.
Understand That The World Has Changed
We would like the point out on simple fact: advertising no longer has the impact it once did. So, all those businesses out there, it is important that you understand we are now in the age of the CUSTOMER. This means, you NEED to define clear roles of EMPLOYEES to deliver the best experience.
However, if you don’t invest in your employer brand, chances of doing so are rather low. Therefore, understand that the world has indeed changed and instead of relying on traditional marketing ways to boost your company’s presence, consider giving employer branding a try to take your business to the next level.