scandal, which began when a staff member postedsensitive company information on Yahoo's messageboards.Inordertofindoutwhowasbehindtheleak,Hewlett
Packard engaged in questionable tactics,ones that eventually resulted in charges being filedagainst the company by the state of California.In less highly charged situations, employees areregularly posting on the Internet testimonies abouttheir experiences with the organizations for whichthey work. For instance, the websitewww.wakeup-walmart.comprovides a forum for current andformer Wal-Mart employees to tell about theirdealings with the organization.
recentlynoted that 16% of bloggers admit they have postednegative entries about theiremployerorworkplace.When one considers that, according to the samepublication, one in twenty workers maintains ablog, the potential for significant corporate damagebecomes quite obvious (http://www.hrmguide.net/usa/commitment/negativity.htm).By definition, the
is the imagepresented to an organization's customers and otherstakeholdersthroughitsemployees.Itistremendous-ly important to the well-being of most organizations,given employees' potential for creating either ex-tremely positive or extremely negative images.Heretofore,scholarlyresearchinthefieldhasfocusedmainly on the process of employee branding and thepositive outcomes that are likely to be realized byorganizations that successfully manage the process.Taking things a step further, this article presents atypology which will help leaders better direct theemployee branding process in their organizations.Specifically, our diagnostic framework identifies fouremployee brand types, based on a preponderance of the characteristics of the organization's employees.Further, guidelines are presented for developing astrong employee brand, which can help enhancebrand equity and cultivate a sustainable competitiveadvantage in the marketplace.
2. The employee brand typology
Two issues are critical in determining whether anemployee will reflect the organization's desiredbrand image, and thus favorably impact the percep-tions of customers and others. First, do employeesknow what image they are expected to project?Second, do they perceive their psychological con-tracts as having been upheld? These two factors are,in turn, driven by the extent to which the organiza-tion's messages are consistent with one another andwith the firm's mission, values, and desired brandimage. Together, they underpin the employee brandtypology,andareexpandeduponinthesectionsthatfollow.
2.1. Knowledge and understanding of thedesired brand image
Employee knowledge and understanding of thedesired brand image is pivotal to the employeebranding process. That is, employees must becognizant of and comprehend the image that theorganization wants its customers and other stake-holders to experience. Understanding what thedesired brand image is and how it is directly linkedto the organization's mission and values will helpstaff make better decisions under conditions thatare not explicitly covered in the policy andprocedure manual. For example, most serviceorganizations tell employees that customer serviceis crucial to success; however, the tenets of customer service are not always communicated orreinforced to workers. Consequently, they mustinterpret for themselves what constitutes goodservice and how it should be delivered.Employees' knowledge and understanding of thedesired brand image can be developed through avariety of information sources. For example, it canbe heavily influenced by messages that emanatefrom the organization's advertising and publicrelations efforts. While staff members are some-times the intended recipients of these messages(particularly those stemming from public relationsefforts), they are also exposed to many that areaimed specifically at customers and other externalaudiences. Such messages can also be used toproactively influence employees' knowledge andunderstanding of thedesired brand image. Consider,as reported byAnders (2003), a Hewlett
Packardadvertising campaign that focused on the garage inwhich the company's first products were developed.Although the promotion was targeted primarily atcustomers, it had a substantial impact on the firm'semployees, as well. Its imagery, along with thetheme claiming
the original start-up will act likeone again,
unleashed a considerable amount of emotional energy throughout the company. Bymaking it clear that the desired Hewlett
Packardbrand image was one of innovation, focus, andbottom-line results, the campaign, among otherthings, managed to increase employee knowledgeand understanding. In sum, staff members candevelop an awareness of what the organizationdeems important and what customers expect whenmessages intended for external audiences are alsodesigned with employees in mind.Companies' employee branding efforts are morelikely to be successful when they are staffed withindividuals who have the capacity to internalize thedesired brand image and, then, reflect it to others.Organizations such asSouthwest Airlines,Starbucks,424 W.G. Mangold, S.J. Miles