Bryan Adams on How to Define and Leverage an Employer Brand Strategy.

Bryan Adams is the founder and CEO of Ph.Creative, an employer branding agency helping companies attract top talent. Ph.Creative works with brands to distill and express clear, authentic employee value propositions in order to enhance the applicant experience and retain candidates. Their clients include LinkedIn, Apple, Nike, and many more.

Bryan is also the best-selling author of Give and Get Employer Branding: Repel the Many and Compel the Few with Impact, Purpose, and Belonging, in which he discusses the ins and outs of employer branding, as well as the philosophy and methodology behind his work. Bryan and Roy discuss the integral role of brand reputation in talent attraction, the importance of culture and citizenship within a company, recent recruitment trends, and much more.

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Highlights from our conversation

  • The concept of repelling and compelling the right talent (3:22)
  • How Bryan and his team at Ph.Creative help client companies (4:45)
  • The process of distilling and refining an organization’s EVP (6:01)
  • Finding the balance between an organization’s reality of today and their aspirations for tomorrow (7:36)
  • The business case for employer branding strategy (9:19)
  • When differently sized brands should start developing/implementing their employer strategy and who typically initiates the process (10:55)
  • Aligning business strategy with employer brand strategy (14:30)
  • How to measure ROI on employer branding and talent attraction efforts (17:36)
  • Maintaining an employer brand (19:52)
  • Recent talent acquisition trends, challenges, and opportunities (21:51)
  • Where companies typically fall short in employer branding and talent attraction (27:23)
  • How Ph.Creative helps companies avoid false negatives and hiring mistakes (29:16)


[00:00:00] Roy Notowitz: Hello and welcome to How I Hire, the podcast that taps directly into the best executive hiring advice and insights. I’m Roy Notowitz, founder and CEO of Noto Group Executive Search. You can learn more about us at As a go-to firm for purpose-driven companies, my team and I have been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s most inspiring leaders as they’ve tackled the challenge of building high performance leadership teams. In this podcast, I sit down with some of these very people to spark a conversation about how to achieve success in hiring and create purposeful leadership for the next generation of companies. Bryan Adams joins me on the podcast today. Bryan’s the CEO and founder of Ph.Creative, an employer branding and talent attraction agency. Bryan and his team help companies develop and refine their employer brand to attract top talent. Ph.Creative’s clients include Apple, Nike, Ford, Continental, L’Oreal, and LinkedIn, to name a few. And Bryan also wrote a book on employer branding called Give and Get: Repel the Many and Compel the Few with Impact, Purpose, and Belonging. Bryan and I discuss the importance of distilling and communicating a clear EVP, or employee value proposition. We also cover how employer branding and EVP informs the candidate experience, and we discuss how business strategy, brand reputation, and culture all tie into effective recruitment. 

[00:01:37] Roy Notowitz: Hey Bryan, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today. It’s great to have you here. 

[00:01:42] Bryan Adams: It’s my pleasure, Roy. Thanks for having me on. 

[00:01:44] Roy Notowitz: So let’s start with your career journey. What was your path to becoming a prominent employer brand thought leader, bestselling author and founder of Ph.Creative? 

[00:01:52] Bryan Adams: I wish I could say it was a grand master plan, but it was naivety and by accident, actually. We were running a business with not a lot of point of difference, and we were lucky enough to fall into the recruitment space and do some marketing. And we just saw the opportunity, and it was really early on the emergence of employer branding. We jumped in and it’s just been a fascination ever since. 

[00:02:14] Roy Notowitz: That’s awesome. And your book, Give and Get: Repel the Many and Compel the Few with Impact, Purpose, and Belonging, what was the idea behind that book and your vision for how you wanted it to, uh, influence folks? 

[00:02:28] Bryan Adams: Yeah, so, when we really dove into the niche of employer branding, rather than just adopt the conventional, traditional approach, we built our own philosophy and strategic framework from the ground up. Again, more from naivety than anything else really, but we found that it really worked, and it was different, and it very quickly became our competitive advantage in the marketplace to win new clients and to deliver great work. We reached a crossroads. Our vision is everybody loves their job. Our mission is to help people make better career decisions and, and match companies with more ideally calibrated talent. So, do we take a step closer to our vision? Write the book, and give away our secret? Or do we hide our talents under a bushel and keep it as a competitive advantage? And we wrote it down and published it in a bid to sort of put a dent in the universe. So we’re really pleased with the fact we’ve changed the employer brand industry.

[00:03:22] Roy Notowitz: So I’ve also subscribed to the idea of repelling and compelling at the same time, really being accurate in how opportunities are represented so people can self-select and identify whether or not that’s a, a mission or a challenge they want to put their heart and hard work into. And so, as it relates to the impact, purpose, and belonging, how did that come into the picture for you to include that as part of your title and topic within the book?

[00:03:49] Bryan Adams: Essentially, over the many years, we’ve worked with lots and lots of different clients and conducted research to get to the authentic truth of how it feels to be a part of an organization and bringing the employee experience to life. We found that all of the insights, once distilled, fitted into one of these three buckets of what people are looking for from their career and, and, actually, life in general. People want to feel like they belong to a group. They want psychological safety, and they want an element of fun, and pleasure, and all of those things. People are looking for meaning in their life. “What’s it all about? Why am I doing it?” And also sense that their contribution matters. So, you know, essentially we’ve tried to distill down and make it as simple as possible. And, in terms of three quality checks. If your employer brand doesn’t touch on and satisfy these three things, then, typically, there’s, there’s going to be something missing, and it’s not as competitive as it should be.

[00:04:45] Roy Notowitz: Interesting. So tell us about your business and how you and your team help client companies. 

[00:04:53] Bryan Adams: So we’re a specialist employer brand agency. Now that’s all we do apart from, we’ve also got a platform called HappyDance, which is the premier careers website platform we’re really proud of, but essentially we’re end-to-end in this space. Our superpower is listening and getting to the heart of an organization and understanding that unique DNA. But the premise and the big core idea in the book is working with organizations so they really will look at EVP differently. So, rather than a magnet to attract, it’s more of a smart filter so people are making better decisions. And we’ve also got a way of contexting the harsh realities and adversities that exist in every organization. Instead of just pretending they don’t exist– 

[00:05:39] Roy Notowitz: Right. 

[00:05:39] Bryan Adams: –we put them into context, use it as a, a proposition, and what we find is that actually elevates the strengths, benefits, and opportunities. It, it doesn’t detract. It makes you more competitive. So, that’s the heart of what we do. We’ve got a great creative department and, and we bring that to life, and we manage employer brands afterwards, but this is the space that we live and breathe.

[00:06:00] Roy Notowitz: So how do you get to that employer value proposition, or what’s your methodology or process to get to the essence of an employment brand?

[00:06:09] Bryan Adams: Oh, we’re touching on the next book now, Roy, that’s quite an insightful question. But, we have a Seven D process which I won’t bore you with what all of those D’s are, but it’s tried and tested. It’s about getting to the heart of: what is the right solution for the organization? And obviously we focus a lot on the talent experience, and the individual, the employee, the alumni, the, the candidates. But 99% of the success of what we do comes down to aligning with the forward motion of a company. It has to be fit for purpose. It has to be a sharp tool to drive the, the talent strategy forward. So it starts there. We do research — qualitative and quantitative. The key there is it needs to be representative of the whole organization, you know, and that’s not just geographic, it’s also from a demographic perspective, from a seniority, and tenure, and all of this diversity aspect as well. Then we hold up a mirror to the organization and make sure that the research isn’t just perception — it actually is reality. And then we shape the strategy and bring it to life. And what we’re looking for when we bring it to life is we want to make our client partners the most relevant brand in the marketplace. They’re more relevant to the talent audience than competitors, and we want to give them a point of difference, and we want to make them memorable. So there’s a lot of science, but there’s also a bit of art as well, which we love combining.

[00:07:36] Roy Notowitz: And so, when you hold up that mirror and the company looks at their employment brand as it’s represented by all those interviews and research that you do, how much of the narrative that you create going forward in terms of attracting talent is shaping the perceptions or helping the company evolve their employment brand to a place where they aspire to be, versus the reality of where it is today?

[00:08:03] Bryan Adams: Yeah, so the key differentiator with employer brand is it needs to be representative of the reality of today, but there also does need to be an aspect of aspiration. It’s a complete myth that you can’t be authentic and aspirational at the same time. A good employer brand should be a very tangible bridge between the truth of today and the direction of where you’re going to be tomorrow. Otherwise, it’s not a forward-facing brand. It’s not a tool to help you get there. So that aspect is really important. When we do reflect back the research, sometimes some of the things leaders don’t like, but they have to embrace it because it’s not going anywhere. Other times, there’s aspects that they don’t like, and they decide to change, but that’s not our decision. That’s, uh, a crossroads in the project. 

[00:08:51] Roy Notowitz: Right. 

[00:08:51] Bryan Adams: And usually there is a little bit of debate and decision-making at that point. And again, it’s about aligning to move forward towards a solution that’s going to serve the business well and is really representative of the organization. Sets expectations such that it is authentic, but also does include that element of aspiration where people can aspire to achieve more in their own career and contribute to something worthwhile going forward.

[00:09:19] Roy Notowitz: That’s fantastic. Let’s talk a little bit about why this is important and what’s the business case for it. When should companies start thinking about this? 

[00:09:29] Bryan Adams: You know, I may be a little bit biased here, but I passionately believe people are the only competitive advantage left in business. Even with the emergence of A.I., I would argue people are now even more the differentiator because the gap between great technology being a differentiator is closing massively. So any competitive organization that has any success criteria whatsoever needs to invest in great people. They need to win an unfair share advantage in the marketplace. And get the best talent from their competitors so and such forth. So, an employer brand has now been proven — you don’t need my stats or case studies — it’s very well documented now that an organization invests in their employer brand tends to do better from a performance perspective. And it can be of any size and varying degrees of sophistication. It comes down to just a couple of core essential ingredients. It’s having the clarity of who you are and who you need to attract to move forward, and the confidence to lean into 360 degrees of the truth. So, not just the strengths, benefits and opportunities, but also the challenges, the harsh realities. And the adversities that people might face as well because the best candidate experience you can possibly offer somebody is enough information to decide not to apply in the first place. That’s the best case scenario because most candidates are not going to get that role. So that’s what we set out to achieve. 

[00:10:55] Roy Notowitz: Interesting. So at what stage or size do companies typically start developing or implementing employment brand strategies?

[00:11:03] Bryan Adams: Every organization has an employer brand. It’s just whether there’s strategy or, or thinking behind it. Most of our clients are global brands with complex talent audiences.

[00:11:13] Bryan Adams: But we have a really good mix of mid-sized organizations. And we really love that sort of ecosystem actually, because the big brands love us for the creativity and bravery we show with our midsize work, and the mid-sized companies come to us because they’re impressed by the global brands on the portfolio. So that’s typically how it shakes out. But– you know, and this applies to small business, and I would implore anybody running a small business or starting a small business to really think about the foundational layer of the culture you want and the culture you need. If you can perfectly align those two things to attract high-caliber, high-performance people and treat them well, and point them in the same direction, set their expectations, and don’t let the expectation down, then you’ve got a really good chance of growing a fantastic organization.

[00:12:01] Roy Notowitz: That’s awesome. How can smaller brands compete with the bigger brands that have just so much more resources behind, you know, messaging their brand and being relevant to the talent pool? Even though some of the small to midsize companies could be really compelling and interesting from a career perspective.

[00:12:19] Bryan Adams: You know, I think it’s a bit of a myth that budget wins, or, if you’ve the most money you’ll win. It really isn’t the case. It’s the organization that’s the most thoughtful, and offers the most clarity and transparency of what it’s really like, and is great at storytelling, translating that into why people should care and how they will find purpose, impact, and belonging. If you take it back to the real bare beginnings of what we’re trying to achieve here is we’re trying to craft a proposition that is compelling to a very small percentage of your entire audience. And if you hold yourself to, to a high standard of what the message is, then it’s a fantastic place to start. And it doesn’t have to be BBC quality or HBO quality broadcast standards of film, or photography, or whatever, it just has to be authentic. And that authenticity needs to be organized in a way where people can see themselves being part of that story. If you craft that and only that, then you’ll beat most of your competitors because it’s a sea of sameness out there. If you really listen to your employees, and take on board what it’s really like, and have the gumption to craft something unique based on who you are as an organization and where you’re going, then budget is a luxury.

[00:13:37] Roy Notowitz: So, who typically leads or sponsors this work in bigger companies or in smaller companies? Is it HR, is it marketing and brand people? Who sort of leads the charge on the client side?

[00:13:48] Bryan Adams: Typically, we won’t take a project unless there’s a C-suite sponsor. 80% of the contracts we sign are with the talent attraction leader, but that trend is starting to change. And what we’re noticing, Roy, is a lot more collaboration with HR playing nice with marketing, and that wasn’t the case just five years ago. 

[00:14:06] Roy Notowitz: Interesting. 

[00:14:07] Bryan Adams: But now, I think the alliance of teamwork and partnership and the value to be had by aligning consumer and, and employer brand, that case is starting to be proved more and more, and strategy is emerging that way as well, such that they need to either co-own, or, in some cases lately, it’s the marketing department that’s commissioned the work. 

[00:14:30] Roy Notowitz: So, how do you incorporate and align business strategy with employment brand strategy? How do those things come together? 

[00:14:38] Bryan Adams: Every organization is different, so there’s a little bit of tailoring the suit, if you like. What we try and do is take the core business strategy and underpin and align all of those things. When we look at brand reputation in the talent space, like what do we need our employer brand reputation to be in the marketplace to allow us to win 

[00:14:58] Bryan Adams: If we look at a typical business strategy, but through the eyes of a candidate or an employee, what’s really interesting is — call it the three C’s. We talk about culture, we talk about career catalyst, and we talk about citizenship, which now is probably ranking number one, especially with Gen Z and, and millennials.

[00:15:16] Roy Notowitz: Interesting. 

[00:15:16] Bryan Adams: If your organization doesn’t stand for a higher purpose, something worthwhile. It doesn’t have ethics and a mission that they believe in, you’re already at a disadvantage. So, citizenship is about leaving the world better than you found it in some way, shape, or form. If you think about it, that citizenship is the traditional purpose or vision of the organization. The conventional mission of the organization aligns really well with career catalyst, which is the idea of, “I can accelerate my career at this organization. I can find impact.” And then, lastly, the values that aligns really well with culture. So, we draw tangible lines between employer brand strategy and underpin that with the conventional business strategy. And, if it all fits together, suddenly light bulbs go on, pennies drop, and everybody sees, “Oh, okay, this is how it’s going to be a turbobooster to what we’re already trying to do.” And that’s the business case you want to get to.

[00:16:12] Roy Notowitz: It’s really interesting because, on executive searches when we’re working with clients, I often say culture, same thing. Career opportunity or career catalyst. And the third one we say is compensation as being a key thing for candidates as well because it has to make financial sense for them to make a move. I like adding in the citizenship as a fourth, but to what degree does compensation philosophy or strategy play into an employment brand strategy? 

[00:16:42] Bryan Adams: So, at the end of the day, if the job doesn’t pay enough, somebody’s not going to take it. And that’s always going to be a big factor. Sometimes it’s the deciding factor, and this is where Big Tech has dominated for years and years, but we’re now seeing a complete shift, uh, especially in the tech space actually, where people are leaving in droves, either by their own volition or they’re being made to. We’re seeing the biggest transfer of talent from the tech industry to other organizations and industries that are digitizing.

[00:17:10] Bryan Adams: But people are making decisions to take less money to work in a more ethical organization with a better mission, and vision, and values, and all of those things. Now, while compensation is not going to go away, it may actually be looked back on in, in a number of years as the tax you have to pay for not being more competitive in those other spaces for your culture and your citizenship.

[00:17:33] Roy Notowitz: That’s a really interesting way to think about it. How do you measure ROI on employment branding and talent attraction efforts? How does the value you provide get measured or quantified over time? 

[00:17:44] Bryan Adams: This could be an hour long conversation, easily. Just this one question, but typically I like to talk about two headline metrics in isolation, from an employer brand perspective, which is the percentage of valued applicants, from an attraction perspective. And the reduction in regrettable loss on the back end, so not just retention, but regrettable loss. If a hundred people left your organization, how many people would you want to rehire tomorrow?

[00:18:13] Bryan Adams: Because that’s when you’re really getting to the nuts and bolts of how effective your culture is. Outside of those, what we like to do right at the start of our work and working with a new client is analyze all of the key priorities that already exist in the organization and find the people related derivative to every single one of those. A lot of the time they overlap, and, if we can distill those down, that’s the dashboard we start with. Over time, as you get more sophisticated, you can develop more metrics, like, “Okay so if that’s what we’re measuring at the top level, what’s underneath that we need to start moving the needle on?” 

[00:18:47] Roy Notowitz: Right. 

[00:18:47] Bryan Adams: So, if you start with the existing priorities of an organization, start measuring the impact on those, you’ll figure the rest out quite easily, actually. 

[00:18:54] Roy Notowitz: What about at the mid to senior levels? Is there any difference between how that ROI is measured? 

[00:19:01] Bryan Adams: Yeah, absolutely. And again, it comes back to, you know, if you look at volume, it might be, “We need maximum occupancy, we need a constant, always-on flow of talent. We need retention because we lose people because it’s a high pressure environment, but we also need to maintain a certain level of NPS or customer service engagement or whatever that is,” because they’re the existing priorities of the organization. In management, in corporate, the metrics might be different. It might be around productivity, the impact they have on culture, general engagement levels, diversity, equity, and inclusion. It really does depend on what’s the focus of the organization. Usually there’s a litany of fires that the organization is trying to put out. So there’s urgent need to improve certain KPI’s so we tend to look there as well, but it’s not a one size fits all. You’re absolutely right. Roy. 

[00:19:52] Roy Notowitz: So, once the employment brand sort of messaging, and foundation, and all the creative assets, and everything’s built, what needs to be done to maintain that? And what are the things that happen later on?

[00:20:06] Bryan Adams: Typically, what we do is we create assets and resources for various different stakeholders, and we call them toolkits. So it might be we’ll produce a toolkit for recruiters and hiring managers, a toolkit specifically just for onboarding a variety of different levels, or campus recruiting, or there might be an alumni toolkit of assets and resources. We look at it like that in the different aspects of the business. For smaller organizations with more lightweight employer brand, it’s a simple suite of assets that kind of serves all purposes. For large organizations with global talent audiences, we look at geographic requirements. We look at creating global master artwork and leave space for the localization and just have some rules around that. Typically, then we’re into the realms of creating playbooks, and employer brand bibles, and so and so forth, so everybody knows how to use it, and stays consistent, and you get that brand continuity. 

[00:21:05] Roy Notowitz: And do you even customize down to the job level? 

[00:21:08] Bryan Adams: Yeah, so we, we can go right down to the specific job role — and when we do talent traction campaigns, we certainly do. What we try and do for organizations to keep it simple is we’ll create personas at the job category level to begin with. Job descriptions and writing engaging, compelling, accurate job descriptions is probably the bane of my life when I look on somebody’s career site, all the rest of it. 

[00:21:33] Roy Notowitz: Yeah. 

[00:21:33] Bryan Adams: We offer training, we offer copywriting, we deliver a certain number of templates when we produce employer branding, but that’s something you’ve got to stay on top of. It takes one rogue recruiter, desperate to get an urgent job up, and it can all fall down.

[00:21:51] Roy Notowitz: So, what trends or challenges or opportunities are talent acquisition leaders focused on currently just based on, let’s say the last 12 months? 

[00:22:00] Bryan Adams: Well, I think everybody’s wrestling with A.I., and they’re looking at efficiencies. There’s organizations we’re working with, that are just starting now to realize the A.I. revolution isn’t just around the efficiency of the organization. It’s also leveling your candidates. So now it’s harder to screen, or analyze, or assess candidates because everybody’s basically them, plus ChatGPT and all the rest of it. But, beyond that, on the macro level, certainly organizations still need to have the “what we learned from Covid,” “how have we changed since Covid” stories and getting back to basics of being much more human. There’s a lot more user-generated content being produced now because that element of authenticity is in real high demand. I think the talent audience is a little bit more cynical, and they’ll spend more time researching to get to the truth. And then, going full circle to where we started the conversation is this aspect of citizenship — really dialing up the purpose and meaning of an organization and trying to put heart back into the, the employer brand. That’s something that we’re seeing is absolutely essential now. 

[00:23:08] Roy Notowitz: A lot of times with postings that differentiation is important because there’s a lot of noise out there in the market and a lot of people are hearing about it through their networks, and LinkedIn, and different tools. So how does that play in, in terms of the channels of communication? How do you think about that? The way jobs get sort of socialized. 

[00:23:27] Bryan Adams: Well, I mean, we mentioned just a couple of minutes ago, there’s still a litany of really bad job descriptions, poorly written, very low engagement. A lot of the time it’s just text on a page and if you think that’s good enough, you’re in major trouble already, but, if you think that you’ve just got to be a little bit better than your nearest talent competitor, then, again, you need to rethink that idea because you’re now in the market of attention. Your competitor is TikTok, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, all of these different things– YouTube. Getting attention and keeping it and trying to create affinity and interest is getting harder, and harder, and harder. And what we’re finding is we have to produce content that isn’t just clever, or catchy, or different, it has to have a little bit more depth, and it has to add much more value to the talent audience a little bit higher up the stream. So, it can’t all just be about the day in the life of the job and your organization. You have to know your talent segments and offer them value that they really are searching for and care about. So, in short, it’s getting harder, not easier. 

[00:24:37] Roy Notowitz: What are your thoughts about how much energy companies should put into evaluating their Glassdoor reviews or candidates should think about how realistic or accurate those reviews are?

[00:24:49] Bryan Adams: I think Glassdoor is an important aspect of employer branding. Whether you like it or not, it gives you pause for thought, and it gives you a lightning rod of things to investigate and questions to ask. I also think that you can tell a lot from an organization by how they respond, if they respond, and there’s a lot of evidence to say that people are much more satisfied with any sort of response, whether it’s an apology, an explanation, or whatever. Love them or hate them, they’re part of the employer brand reputation space, and it needs to be managed and leveraged in a posItive way. 

[00:25:24] Roy Notowitz: The employer/employee dynamic changed, as we all know, as a result of the pandemic. The pendulum is swinging back a little bit in terms of people being in the office a little bit more — I’m seeing that out there. But, in what ways do you think post-pandemic, the world of work will shake out in the long run? And how does that influence the work that you’re doing from an employment brand perspective?

[00:25:47] Bryan Adams: Yeah. The way I think about this is, there’s been, for many, many, many years, there’s been a pendulum of supply and demand.

[00:25:52] Bryan Adams: Either the market’s hot, and competition is extremely high, and you have to pay for that talent. And, you know, then it isn’t. So the pendulum is constantly swinging. The pandemic broke the pendulum. And, you know when you talk about– it’s the Great Resignation, I call it the Great Epiphany. 

[00:26:11] Roy Notowitz: Yeah. 

[00:26:11] Bryan Adams: And, over the course of a few months, the whole world woke up one day and said, “Hey, I now know what quality of life is worth, and I now know what I’m willing to put up with and what I’m not.” And then you add in Gen Z into the mix who are already very clear on what they perceive their worth to be and what they’re looking for out of life. And so, I think we’re in a space now where the basic hygiene of what an organization has to offer has increased and will never go away. And, to a degree, if you want the best talent, you have to bend towards the aspirations of that talent, even to the point of having a political voice and deciding what type of organization you are from that perspective. I think there’s many stories waiting to play out over the next couple of years as organizations try and get people back into the office. So the degree of flexibility, and empathy, and compassion has risen, and I just don’t think it’s going to regress. So I think the idea of things changing from supply and demand is shattered now, and I think organizations need to lean into and have a great story of how they propose to deliver quality of life for their people.

[00:27:23] Roy Notowitz: Interesting. Yeah, I, I don’t disagree with that at all. I do think it’s probably a good thing too, for the world and for companies. I think they’ll get more productivity ultimately from their teams. So, where do companies typically fall short when it comes to employment branding, or talent attraction efforts? What are the risks or downsides of not doing this work? 

[00:27:45] Bryan Adams: Well, not doing this work at all makes you just less competitive because you already need to be able to compete and get the attention of talent and convince them to join, which is hard with an employer brand. The biggest challenge or mistake that we see is being too ambitious with painting a very attractive picture. And saying things and putting messaging out that, that is highly effective at attracting talent, but setting that talent up for a bit of disappointment and setting their expectations falsely such that, when they get inside, they feel missold. Which is a very costly mistake to make. So the market is maturing such that we’re now seeing organizations willing to tell a balanced picture and actually lean into, “Hey, here’s the five reasons why you shouldn’t join our organization, because we’re very protective about our culture,” which I think is a compelling perspective. That’s the biggest mistake but I think the market is trending to sort of learning that lesson quickly 

[00:28:39] Roy Notowitz: So, what are some tangible ways that this type of work can accelerate or improve success in attracting or hiring or retaining diverse talent? 

[00:28:47] Bryan Adams: To find, and attract, and keep more diverse talent, organizations are going to have to be a little bit more brave and a little bit more transparent. And I think it comes down to transparency. And we’re working with an organization, Intuitive, and they have a number of ERG’s, and they really listen and put their ERG’s at the forefront of a lot of the work that they do t o just always make sure that there isn’t any bias perception in the room and that they’re making decisions on an inclusive basis, and I think that’s the way forward. 

[00:29:16] Roy Notowitz: How do you help companies avoid false negatives and make quality hiring decisions? 

[00:29:21] Bryan Adams: So I think employer brand can really help be more inclusive from a messaging perspective. I think there’s a missing piece. The sourcing and the recruitment process needs to be aligned, so not to have the old knockout questions or look at the selection and the process to eliminate talent. But, assuming that isn’t the challenge, by having an inclusive, human employer brand that has inclusivity baked in from the foundation, making sure that it is representative of the whole organization, you have the opportunity then to take that message and take it to unconventional channels and unconventional communities. Now, if you do that, the message still needs to resonate, and with the give-and-get approach, what we found is advocacy and ambassadorship significantly increases when you give somebody permission to talk about the not-so-great aspects of your organization. You also tap into an incredible pool of passion and pride when you talk about how somebody is thriving within those conditions because it contexts how their capabilities are so valuable because they have achieved, despite the conditions that they have to work in. So what you get there is a whole lot of transparency, which adds incredible credibility to the message. It’s coming straight from the employee’s mouth, but you also get to ask them, “So why do you stay? Like how do you find achievements, purpose, impact, and belonging?” And, quite often, the reason for joining is different from the reason of staying, and you get to the real good stuff. So, if you can get those stories and take them to the right places, you’re going to get a far diverse talent pool and people will be more likely to engage because they believe the message they’re hearing. 

[00:31:13] Roy Notowitz: So, are there any brands out there, perhaps they’re clients of yours, maybe not, that you think are doing a good job of this? 

[00:31:21] Bryan Adams: Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, non-client, I’ve got to say, for very different reasons, Patagonia, Unilever, Disney, Salesforce, HubSpot — they’re all doing a great job of being highly relevant, and plugging into what the talent audience is looking for, and presenting an offer of differentiation, and also knowing who they are as an organization. Are they a citizenship organization? Are they a culture organization? Are they a career catalyst organization? And then we did all the research and worked with Apple on their employer brand. 

[00:31:54] Roy Notowitz: Cool. 

[00:31:54] Bryan Adams: And I think we’re proud about that. And they’ve made huge strides over the last few years. Peloton, American Airlines, DraftKings. We’re really excited. Nike’s employer brand is out publicly very soon — that’s going to change the game. We’re really excited about that, and VCA, which is an animal hospital if you check that out. It’s very heartfelt, and we’re very proud of that work as well. 

[00:32:19] Roy Notowitz: That’s awesome. So what new or exciting things are you and your team working on currently? What are the things that we need to know about? Sounds like you have a few projects in the works, and I’m also interested in learning more about HappyDance.

[00:32:33] Bryan Adams: Absolutely. We’ve got a number of interesting things at the moment. We’ve just introduced a little tool in HappyDance that allows us to identify up to 80% of the anonymous traffic on a careers website, and it’s 100% compliant. So we’re really excited to do that. That’s the nerdy, geeky side of me coming out there, but on the consultancy side, on the employer brand strategy, we’re tending to work with C-suite leadership a lot more, figuring out how to create more alignment between employer brand and business strategy. So what we’ve noticed is the conversation has gone upstream and it’s now very firmly on the desk of the CEO or the C-suite and linking a number of disparate internal initiatives and coming up with a galvanizing theme. And I’ve got to tell you, Roy, we get to see what’s behind the curtain with some of these huge brands, and it’s just fascinating. And, with so much change and volatility in the world, there’s never a dull moment at Ph.Creative. We talk about “love the struggle” because, for anybody who’s ever worked for an agency, it’s really hard. It’s really hard. We’ve only got three core values of intensity, integrity, and audacity. And intensity is there to ward people away. And we’ve hired loads of people from corporate who just can’t hack it, and we’ve got to eat our own dog food. So we’re very careful with our give and get. 

[00:33:52] Roy Notowitz: How can people find and access some of the content and resources that you’ve produced? 

[00:33:56] Bryan Adams: Thanks for asking that, roy. If you go to, you can get all the information on the agency. In the top banner, there is a little banner for the Sprint Series that we do, which is two to three weeks of intense learning to go through all of our strategy and models of employer brand, and a lot of people tend to get a lot of value out of that. Other than that, check me out on LinkedIn. I’m very active on LinkedIn. I love to have conversations around employer brand strategy over there. Search for “Bryan Adams,” spelled the same way as the Canadian singer, and you should find me if you tag on Ph.Creative on the end. 

[00:34:30] Roy Notowitz: Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom on this topic. This is the first time we’ve actually really dug into employment branding and the work that goes into that, and I think it’s highly relevant for large and small companies to really think about how to approach this or think about this work, and it seems to be more and more relevant as we think about the way that the workforce is evolving and how they view work. So, fascinating stuff. I look forward to keeping in touch with you. It’s been really great getting to know you. 

[00:35:00] Bryan Adams: Alright, my pleasure. Really enjoyed the conversation, and I appreciate you having me on.

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