Best Practice or Brand Practice?

February 15

Recently, my esteemed colleague, Richard Mosley of PiB fame, and I were discussing the finer aspects of touch-point planning (which was infinitely more interesting than our last conversation: actuarial table sudoku). During the discussion, Richard brought forth the observation that most organizations, when implementing new processes, will invariably seek out best practices. And well they should. Understanding what other organizations have implemented and how effective those practices have enjoyed success is much more efficient than continuously starting from scratch.

But when looked at from the perspective of a brand, it may not be the best idea. Why, you ask? The very nature of a best practice is one that seeks emulation by other organizations, in essence becoming a commodity practice, the very antithesis of one of brand's primary tenets: to provide differentiation, if not outright distinction.

Does this really matter? (I sure hope so, otherwise this article is kind of pointless.) It does if you're trying to build an experiential brand, which is the root of an employer brand. The practices an organization utilizes are part of the employment experience, and therefore, the degree to which those practices are the same or remarkably similar to those of other organizations has an inverse relationship to the distinctiveness of the employment experience, and therefore, the employer brand.

This probably doesn't make you happy. But don't despair. For those who have identified, or are in the process of identifying the attributes of their employer brand, there is a solution. For everyone else, sorry, it looks like you will have to embrace despair.

About that solution, it's actually quite simple in concept. Examine your various practices through the lens of your employer brand. For example, let's say that one of the key attributes of your employer brand is leading-edge thinking. Well, how is this conveyed in context with on-boarding? Are you simply stating somewhere in the on-boarding process that your organization is known for leading-edge thinking, or have you applied leading-edge thinking to the on-boarding process itself? The former might be part of a best practice, but the latter would be part of applying brand practices.

There are many tools and approaches that can be applied to the development of brand practices, such as the aforementioned touch-point planning (hey, we've come full circle). Which of these you use is less important than actually getting on the path itself.

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