Whiteboard Wednesdays: The Virtuous Circle of Employee Defined Branding

When I was in business school, one of the most powerful strategy concepts taught is that of a virtuous cycle, or flywheel.

Here’s an example: Amazon is a massive online retailer. Because of their volume, they can get low prices through more favorable supplier contracts (among other things). Because they have low prices, they get more customers. Because they get more customers, they have higher volume. So, customers => volume = > better contracts = > lower prices = > more customers…you get the idea.

You have a flywheel built into your culture

We see the same thing happen in recruiting. If you’ve got a good culture, you should have a strong employer brand (more on that below). If you have a strong employer brand, you’re attracting amazing people. If you have more to choose from, you make better hires. These people move your business, and culture, forward. So, great culture => strong employer brand => quality applicants => better hires => better culture, and so on.

Here’s the video explanation:

Vicious Cycles

Sometimes in order to appreciate how effective a concept is, we have to look at the opposite side of the coin.

There are numerous examples of vicious cycles in the business world. We’ve all seen a situation where a toxic culture means that amazing people leave, people who fit the toxic culture are hired, they make the culture worse, and the business suffers because it’s impossible to hire anyone good, let alone retain them.

How to take advantage of your flywheel

If your company has a strong culture, then you’ve got an amazing asset that needs to be brought to bear in the war for talent. In our virtuous circle example relating to culture, the great culture lead to a strong employer brand. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just happen automatically. Many companies struggle with how exactly to take a culture’s strengths and turn them into a magnet for talent.

Let’s think about where the culture is coming from in the first place. It’s the people, right? Their collective experience makes up your culture. They’re also amazing conduits into groups of talent that you want to tap into. Homophily is a thing (birds of a feather fly together). In fact, that’s kind of the underlying principle here. Great people want to work with other great people.

Building your content

Employee generated content should be the basis for your branding efforts. This is in essence taking your culture and putting it into a form that is communicable to the rest of the world.

I personally recommend surveying your employees to ask them in depth questions around their day to day, career path, skills they’re learning, and everything else job seekers care about that particular department.

This content is explicitly created to attract other amazing people by sharing the key value propositions on why they should want to join.

Sharing your content

Content sharing can come through talent communities, microsites, or the company social handles. However, the best way to amplify the potential effects of your flywheel is to share this content through the voices of your employees. This is the new trend everyone is calling employee advocacy.

Employees are the best ways because their first and second degree connections are the people who are most likely to continue to add to the amazing culture you’re building. And, we know that if we keep building a great culture, we’ll have an even strong brand that we can share even more broadly via our employees.

There you have it!

Ok, so one of the more powerful business strategy tools is now in your arsenal. If you’ve got strong notes of your culture, then go forth and show off that culture through amazing stories. Share these stories with your colleague’s help. Use this sharing to get in front of more amazing people who’ll continue to build that culture!

Phil Strazzulla

Phil Strazzulla

Founder at NextWave Hire
Phil is a founder of NextWave Hire.Previously, he was a VC at Bessemer.Phil is a self taught programmer and business nerd who studied at NYU and Harvard Business School.
Phil Strazzulla

Latest posts by Phil Strazzulla (see all)