Branding without an improvement process is a flash in the pan

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Now that people realize that the traces everyone (businesses or individuals) leaves on the net impact their economic activities everyday more, “branding” is becoming a very trendy issue. First “personal” then, logically, “corporate”.

Then, things should be as perfect as possible in a perfect world. Everyone will be able to know everything about anyone, so will be able to make the best possible decisions, companies won’t make “casting mistakes” anymore and applicants will be sure to find employer they perfectly fit with. I don’t know if you share my opinion…but this seems to be too easy to be true…and efficient.

There is, according to be, a big misunderstanding on the starting assumption. Whereas some undestand “transparent information”, some others understand “the most positive information. I’d rather say that everyone want the most transparent information about the others but only want to give positive information about himself. This leads to a win-loose game where everyone looses for a simple reason. The mechanism relies on trust, so, at the very moment the information is biased, trust will disappear and everybody will come back to the usual “it’s useless, it doesn’t work, it’s a sham”.

I feel hard to believe that, even if in a perfect world it would solve everything, the social side of the process, that’s to say the validation of the information by third parties, will change anything. Because there are a lot of people that are not comfortable with all these things and because companies, even if they know people don’t believe them anymore, are still reluctant to make speak those who are believed.

Is it a flash in the pan ? Not at all. But communication in the large sense of the word has to be rethought as a lever in an ongoing improvement process and not only as a way to deliver a message.

I’ll star with this assumption : no applicant is perfect. No company is perfect either. But we keep ourselves in the illusion that we must look for perfection and show a perfect image of oneself.

This assumption is confirmed when you see how banal are corporate discourses and when you know that 70% of the CVs are fixed.

Knowing that we have two choices : either we’re “not that bad” and we play the game, or “not that good” and we refuse. This kind of strategy has clear limits : it’s as if, in these pandemic times, the best way not to catch the virus was not to consult the doctor.

Companies say “since everything goes wrong, don’t say anything”. I’m not sure this is the right strategy because it prevents them from saying what’s right and because the public opinion is not that idiot : people can understand provided they don’t feel they are being taken for a ride.

In short, it’s time for businesses to understand that breaking mirror won’t turn Quasimodo into Brad Pitt and that, on the contrary, looking oneself in a mirror is the best way to know whatto use the surgical knife for.

I was recently talking with a friend working for a company that’s not going bad but which have a veruy bad image. “You just have to say : we’re hopeless, we know we have to improve and we will tell you what we’re doing…just give us time to make things our own pace”. Seing how astounded he was I carried on : “anyway, if you say anything else people won’t believe you”. Ok…I exaggerated…but it was necessary to make him open his eyes.

I didn’t did it in purpose but I said the magic word : “improvement”. Knowing nobody’s perfect, “branding” is only about making things look nicer than they are unless you make it a part of an ongoing improvement process. It’s not about communicating anymore, but about discussing, listening, learning from conversations, acting and showing what’s done. This is exactly the same as for community management.

On the applicant side, a “good” digital presence is also about challenging ideas, learning from experimented people and talking with them in order to drive one’s reflection if not one’s carreer in the right direction.

Of course, one can prefer keeping on mitigating risk and build model-appartments. But it’s not a good thing for anyone : neither for applicants looking for credibility nor for companies looking for legitimacy, nor for anyone understands that status quo is the worse thing for both parts.

Disconnecting the image from the reality of the company weakens both.

I was about to forget.. anyway, today people talk about their companies and they will still be considered as more reliable source as the official message. Instead of making them shut up why not use them to understand what’s wrong with them ? Someone recently told me that he knew that the heating in one of his subsidiaries’ office broke down because he was following one of the staff member on twitter. The situation was lasting for one week but the headquarter didn’t react because…the information was still making its way in the hierarchical path. Because of that he was able to react straight away.

New generations, new behaviors.I don’t know if the IT dept of a French leading company is concerned by it’s trainees’ equipment, but thanks twitter we are at least a few hundreds (and most of all, in their “target”) people to know that after a few days one of their trainees still doesn’t have a computer to do his work. Knowing that this person is on a web projetc… I hope the request is on the decider’s desk. Maybe it’s a good example to show that listening is the best way to improve.

Transparency can be either a danger or an improvement tool. But when you’re not, others will be and you’ll miss an opportunity to improve.

amélioration continue, corporate branding, marque-employeur, personal branding, progrès permanent

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Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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