Thoughts from a secure and un-sexy coffee shop about sexy employment branding.

We’ve written a series recently about the cultural architecture of ‘passionate’ workplaces. We’re pleased to say we received lovely feedback (and not just from our mother’s). All the talk about passion made someone drop a cup of tea, so we thought we might as well tackle ‘sexy branding’ while we’re in the sensationalised neighbourhood.

There are client organisations we meet who point to their ‘work’ as uninteresting or formulaic, and, as a result, they feel they cannot attract talent. This attitude once fostered spores easily from one thing to the next. “Dull work, dull building, dull reception, dull uniform, dull brand, dull company”.

“Oh! We’ve been dull for years. In fact, we’re rather good at it.”

Now I might prefer to use another word like ‘grey’ instead of ‘dull’, but since we’ve had this ’50 shades’ phenomenon even grey has become sexy. In these modern, sexy times even the dull don’t have a colour palette to call their own anymore.

’50 Shades of Grey’ does, however, hold a clue to how an organisation can go about fixing a dullness problem, suggesting a process that when applied correctly can make anything sexy. Intrigued? The secret is to strip.

“I mean, we’re accountants”. Said a client, once.

“Yes, yes you are. Let’s begin with that”.

We’re all something, and we all share the enormous potential to be dull. Even sexy design company’s with their sexy teams of sexy young dreamers within; working on sexy brands – they won’t tell you about the time sheets. They won’t tell you about the monotonous WIP meetings given by leadership, the amount of time they spend compressing files, the hours spent flicking through photo libraries and portfolios, the legal compliance… they get their sexiness through loose association(s).

Accountancy can be sexy. Accountants can do your tax return. They can solve complex problems, they help people in difficulty, and they can be the engine of an organisation by helping to make the right decisions to deploy capital. Yes, accountants help you spend money. That might be sexy.

So strip it back. Look at everything from the mission statement onwards, through nature of the work to the end benefits of the work that you really do. If dullness really does pervade, we need to get in there and shake up the mindset to find the core of the problem.

Sexy is accuracy.

We’ve learned that when it comes to employment branding ‘sexy’ is not a magic brush that you can use to paint over workplace cracks.

There is a magic brush though. It’s more important than sexy. It’s…accuracy. Unfortunately, it’s also the truth. Plain, simple, powerful and itself very sexy. Employers who are willing to confront and listen to the truth from their employees, will get something to build their employer brand on that is better than sex(y).

Employer brands do not need to appeal at all costs in spite of morals. The goal is to appeal accurately with the truth, and then work on the rules of attraction.

Comments? Thoughts?