The employer brand and the personal brand (2/2)
People love stories. As a small child, we're put to bed by our parents and listen in awe to the stories they read to us. Especially in the days before internet, television and radio, stories were the way to share information. They appeal to us, because they require imagination and trigger our fantasy. You have to envision for yourself what the hero (or princess!) looks like and during the story hope that all ends well for the hero in question. As we grow up, we tend to lose this childlike imagination and become more rational. Nevertheless, we still like a good story (and these days a good movie or online video). In pursuit of that childlike imagination I'd like to share my story with you wrapped in a my personal brand movie: The quest for the Brand Manifesto. You'll be able to see why I'm so invigorated by the subject of employer branding and at the same time learn:
- What it takes to tell a great (online) story
- How to build a story based on basic elements
- Some crucial tips for your personal and employer brand story
My motivation for employer branding
But first, sit back and take a look at my personal brand movie (and read the full movie script below if you're really into it!) to discover why employer branding matters to me. It all began when I discovered an old letter from my great-grandfather. It was full of riddles and hints that eventually sent me on a quest. He always used to talk extensively about the Brand Manifesto, a renowned manifest that held secrets to many of the world’s employer branding challenges...
The Quest for the Brand Manifesto
The ingredients of a good story
A story in general contains a lesson, a personal story contains an 'evidence based key motivation' of the individual and corporate story contains an 'evidence based key promise' of the organisation. All of them tell a story, sometimes mixing facts with fiction, about what they main character, individual or organisation wants to communicate. A personal story (like my 'the quest for the Brand Manifesto') as well as a corporate story has different functions:
- It shows the evidence of self research (who am I / who are we?) in a visual format
- It transfers an individual's / organisations' values, mission and positioning
- It transfers a vision of the future
- It stresses the importance of motivation, engagement and strengthens pride
- It's a compass for the future of the individual / organisation and creates a foundation for acting internally and externally
A good story is easier to remember than a presentation of bare facts. Any audience makes mental knots in their brain about either facts or stories and is able to remember them better in case of a story. Telling a story an art form though. A good personal and corporate story is about the soul of the individual or organisation. In order to make a story effective two different perspectives come to mind: transferring information and telling stories.
Table 1: Transferring information versus telling stories
In case of transferring information, the receiver of the information is a critical spectator. He listens, analysis and interprets information as he perceives it. Just like a receiver would, if you present your personal brand (see part 1 of this post). Shared information is solid, objective and analytical. As the sender, you're appealing to the rational side of the receiver.
But when your telling stories, you're appealing to the imagination of the receiver. And this imagination is much more open for personal interpretation. The story itself is much more vague and subjective, but when the right story is told - and this not just a matter of taste, but also how you build the story - it creates engagement with the receiver.
How to build your story
Every story is different, but the structure of a good story does have some basis elements. A guideline for every story is the following:
• Part 1: The beginning; a way to set the situation
• Part 2: Introduction to a change that leads to a reversal
• Part 3: Escalation; the hero can't go back
• Part 4: Climax; confrontation of the hero with the conflict
• Part 5: The end; expiration of the story
I've used these elements in my personal brand movie as well. Now, I could have started talking to you about my research on employer branding, how I extract data, make analyses and present them to my audience. But that wouldn't be something most of you would fail to remember after a while, right? To most of you, it might even seem dull. Instead, I used the art of storytelling to explain why I'm so caught up in employer branding. I used the basic elements of a good story and adapted it to my own:
• Part 1: "On my way to Dublin" (The beginning; a way to set the situation)
• Part 2: Enjoying the view until... (Introduction to a change that leads to a reversal)
• Part 3: "What the ...?" (Escalation; the hero can't go back)
• Part 4: "What would my great-grandfather try to tell me?" (Climax; confrontation of the hero with the conflict)
• Part 5: "There it is!" The Brand Manifesto! (The end; expiration of the story)
Tips for your story
Now take a look at my movie once more. No really, go ahead. Do you see the different elements enroll before your very eyes? I just hope you can use these input to create your own personal brand movie or employer brand movie for that matter. Remember to use the basic elements as presented above and don't forget these additional tips:
- Give the hero a clear goal to strive for (in my case: looking for the Brand Manifesto)
- Create a powerful change in the story (in my case: a helicopter landed, I lost my phone and thought I'd never find the Brand Manifesto)
- Don't turn your story into a fairy tale... (make it reliable and credible) ...but also never tell it exactly the way it happened (enlarge certain elements of the story and make other pieces less important; just like I did)
- Use your personal brand story to tell your story in your style, what you want to communicate and what you were born to do
- Use your employer brand story to tell what kind of culture is present at the organisation and why it became so important for your success
- Share your values in your personal brand story and your values as an employer in your employer brand story. Look for the overlap of these values to create a lasting cooperation.