Monday 4 July 2016 4:01 am

Brands and ad agencies need to pay more attention to the way their talent perceives them

Between the glasses of rose and glimpses of Will Smith, advertising agencies and brands at Cannes this year were discussing the benefits of building meaningful, purposeful brands to engage with their customers.

In one of our sessions during the International Festival of Creativity, marketers were discussing how brands and media agencies are coming up short when it comes to building a strong brand internally – with their own employees.

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This inability to cultivate a good “talent brand” – otherwise described as what staff and potential new hires say about your company when you're not in the room – means such firms are missing out on recruiting and retaining the best people.

It’s a problem which goes beyond individual agencies.

LinkedIn research shows that the rate of employee turnover for advertising agencies is significantly higher than for other industries competing for young, creative talent, such as management consulting and digital tech companies, and this gap is growing. It’s an industry-wide problem, and it needs to be tackled.

As was discussed during our session, prospective employees aren’t simply interested in your company’s output – they want to understand how they will fit into the process of creating and delivering it, and crucially, what the impact of that work is.

Whether it's millennials or Generation Z, these groups have a strong desire to be part of something meaningful. Recent studies by both PwC and Deloitte highlighted millennials’ desire to work for brands and companies they admire, and to be able to make a visible impact within those businesses. LinkedIn’s research indicates that 51 per cent of millennials want to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose.

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Marketers and agencies have a versatile range of tools when it comes to building these talent brands. But they first require clear thinking about the messages they want to communicate to potential employees, and the best strategy for doing so.

A recent ad from General Electric (GE) emphasises its attractiveness as an employer to talented software developers by applying the same creative thinking and messaging to its talent brand as its consumer marketing.

But it’s not enough simply to build recognition of your business among potential applicants. Existing employees should be given a central role in building their talent brand.

Ultimately, your employees are the best ambassadors you have so it's vital to give them the tools and freedom to be open about working at your company and share their experiences.

The advertising and marketing industries need to apply their creative skills in the right way. If we neglect our talent brands, we’ll erode our ability to build powerful, effective and world-changing brands in the future.