Relocating Professionals As Extension of Brand’s Image


Employees are fundamental to a company’s brand image, but a quiet revolution within the global mobility landscape is taking place. Many relocating professionals now serve as brand agents and align with HR persons and activities, from recruitment and selection to training, performance management, and communications, according to Relocate Magazine.

Employee behavior actively and positively promotes, well, the employer brand. Both can then work on the organization’s marketing activities.

Employer branding starts with the recruitment and selection process where, in effect, it creates a continuous loop: the brand attracts talent that shares the organizational value set; and the selected employees empathize with the brand values, become brand agents, and then promote these both internally and externally.

Working with HR and the talent management function to identify appropriate personnel for relocation (be that domestically or internationally, from internal or external talent pools) makes branding form part of the mobility function’s strategic approach to talent deployment.

The movement of employees to service business requirements, or moving groups of employees in response to external considerations, requires consideration of how relocated personnel and their families will support, reflect, and actively promote the employer brand in their new location.

As brand agents, relocated staff and their family members can relay a positive image face-to-face and via social media, aligned with organizational values.

However, if those involved are less than enthusiastic about moving or have a poor relocation experience, their brand messages can be damaging to the organizational image. Social media can lead to widespread reputational damage.

Thus, the mobility landscape needs careful attention – different perceptions of brand, aligned to cultural value sets, may require tailoring of performance management actions to ensure local responsiveness. For employer branding to be maintained, the process of establishing and measuring performance and how this is communicated require attention.

For example, an upfront straight-talking culture may be inherent within the values of an organization – where employees are encouraged to use constructive criticism as part of promoting innovation and new ways of thinking.

However, in countries where direct communications such as these are considered insensitive, relocated employees should expect to manage others’ performance in a less direct manner, or have their own performance discussed in a less confrontational way.

This leads into the importance of ensuring relevant training interventions within employer and employee branding. Training is crucial if an organization is to ensure that its employees are “on brand.” The employer brand would be presented to employees both directly and subtly in terms of products, services, and daily activities with the brand image and values conveyed consistently as a corporate message.  At this point, the global mobility manager can ask for support from his partners and colleagues, such as embassies, business groups, and corporate housing companies like California Corporate Housing, who can keep the assignees up to speed as far as cultural norms are concerned.

A recent case in point concerns the launch of IKEA in India, where the artefacts of the organisational culture and its Swedish roots have been adapted to meet local cultural values.

The IKEA brand is well-known globally but its local success in different host countries has rested upon adapting its employer brand to fit. For instance, recent press reports on the opening of India’s first IKEA store focused on the representation of the employer brand and its “Swedishness” described via its restaurant foods such as its traditional meatballs. Local cultural values have resulted in these being adapted to meet ethnic and religious needs.

So what lessons does this give to mobility professionals endeavoring to support employer and employee branding when their organizations deploy people into non-traditional markets?

Essentially, it concerns a blending of images, values, and activities that make up a corporate brand but with fusion into local customs, culture, and flexibility. Mobility professionals have an important role to play in promoting and training relocated personnel.