I’ve been thinking a lot about brand abandonment lately. My next series of thoughts immediately go to how creating and maintaining a brand-based corporate culture can help businesses avoid brand abandonment, and help recruit and retain the very best talent.

I will refer way back yonder back to my post on building culture, which requires a company to establish several modes of interaction with employees, job seekers and customers. These modes of interaction – transactional, transformational and tacit – build trust with employees and candidates, enable competitive advantage, and may even facilitate the establishment of a social community within a larger organization.

A company that sees the benefits of building a brand-based corporate culture has a very distinct advantage in the hiring marketplace. Say you are running a small business. How do you attract talent? By creating a strong, desirable culture brand. A recent post at the Wall Street Journal speaks to the steps a small company might take to attract talent: communicate your success, share your excitement about the business’s potential, make a point of linking that potential to the applicant’s interests. Link corporate culture and brand with your people and the magic really starts.

Think you can’t compete on benefits and salary? Remember that your brand and culture are your biggest attractions. As Tim Hackett writes at MonsterThinking, most candidates want to work for a brand they admire. People love Nike because it’s cool, IBM because it’s a leader, Google because it’s an innovator. We can’t all work at those places, but we can observe their brands and cultures, and learn. Be your brand, treat people well, and don’t waiver or abandon your position.

Treating people well and running an ethical business is the secret sauce for really good brands. Bill Taylor says brand is culture, and culture is brand in a recent article at Harvard Business Review. When there’s a tight link between the two forces, customers will know, employees will know, job seekers will know. No risk of brand abandonment in this scenario: it’s baked right into the workplace culture as a foundation.

As the economy rebounds, employees may become restive. Job seekers may start flooding well-known brands with resumes in the hopes that finally someone will open the envelope, click on the email, or even a tweet. Your best defense, as an employer, is to have culture and brand in place. Be irresistible to your employees. Be desirable to candidates. Be your brand, revel in your culture, and never abandon either. The price is just too high.

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