What is Brandfluence?

At Relish we define strategic branding as the process of closing the gap between who your organization is and how it’s perceived through the eyes of your stakeholders.

Let’s take it a step further. How do you close the gap? We’ve developed a tried-and-true process of developing an organization’s brand, and we call it Brandfluence™. It’s a five-phase process that takes you from the situation analysis to the implementation of your brand plan and its ongoing evolution. While the process comprises a set of methodologies and tools, we customize the components as needed for each of our clients and their specific audiences.

Here’s a brief look at each phase.

The Situation Analysis begins with an intake session with your marketing team. We want to know what you’re doing, who your target audiences are, what’s been working for you, and more. We’ll also want to take a deep dive into your marketing materials, including your website. The phase is complete when we provide you with our progress notes.

Next comes Focused Conversations, a series of one-on-one interviews with your executive team, selected employees and stakeholders. It’s qualitative research aimed at learning what people inside and outside the organization believe about you and your competitors, what matters to them as your executives, employees and target audiences, and what they believe makes your organization special. We summarize our findings in a report.

Phase 3 is the Brandfluence™ Session. Based on what we’ve learned in the first two phases, we come to the session having prepared an analysis of your primary competitors’ brands, a positioning map so that you can see where your brand fits vis-à-vis those of your competitors, and a brand SWOT analysis.

During the Brandfluence session, we present our findings and take you through a series of exercises designed to help you determine:

1) the attributes that describe your brand

2) your dream customer; the audience most critical to your long-term success

3) your brand promise, i.e. the story you want to communicate internally and externally

Our takeaway from the Brandfluence™ session enables us to begin Phase 4,  Brandfluence™ Plan development. The plan includes our strategic recommendations for your name, tagline, identity, and key messages along with internal and external campaigns and launch timelines for each. The plan is accompanied by identity guidelines for message consistency.

Finally, it’s time for the Engagement Phase, when we implement the marketing and advertising plan. Along the way, we look at how it’s going and how we’re doing. This phase also includes campaign evaluation. The below graphic summarizes our five-step process

Relish brandfluence


10 Ways to Improve Your Employer Brand


At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward. Savor your brand. View our employer branding client work. Work with  us! Contact here.

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Time for a Website Refresh?

Time for a Website Refresh? 9 Smart Questions to Ask.

Website technology and trends change constantly, and consumer expectations are rising at an even faster pace. So, it’s a common question – how often should we refresh our company’s website? Some in the industry will say anywhere between two to five years.

Rather than answer the question with an arbitrary date, you should evaluate whether your website is performing well, delivering on your business objectives and meeting the needs of its users (including your sales and marketing teams). If it isn’t, there’s no time like the present for a refresh.

The answers to these 9 questions can help you decide if now is the right time to redesign your website.

  1. Are you making the best first impression?

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and in today’s digital world, that’s often your website. Outdated and unappealing designs or difficult, clunky navigation will leave customers confused or turned off – and some will never come back.

One common mistake is to jam-pack everything on to the home page. Today’s digital trends lean toward a minimalistic style with a simple, clean design and short copy blocks with limited text. Consider the home page as the cover of a book. It should be visually appealing and say just enough to motivate someone to open the book and read more. Even better, they should want to buy it.

  1. Is your site responsive and optimized for desktop, mobile and tablet?

In 2015, Google determined that for the first time, more searches in the U.S. were being done on mobile devices than on desktops. And that trend hasn’t slowed down. Smartphones and tablets have changed when and where people consume information. A responsive website design will allow visitors to experience your website intuitively and easily, no matter what device they are using, with layout, content, imagery and other design assets appearing and functioning in ways that make sense for each device.

Many designers design for mobile first. Designing for a small screen format will force you to focus on what’s most important and the easiest ways for users to access it (think like a minimalist!). Once you’ve prioritized these key elements, the desktop design will come naturally.

  1. Is your site’s design and messaging consistent with your brand?

If you’ve recently gone through a rebrand, you’ll want to make sure you’ve scrubbed your website thoroughly to ensure it reflects your new brand. Likewise, your business strategies may have shifted since the last update. Have these updates been incorporated throughout your website?

Make sure your online presence fully represents who you are as a company and what you want to be known for – including your business strategies, product offerings and key messaging. Not only will it help you convert more visitors into customers, it also will ensure that you’re attracting the right customers and setting the right expectations about what they can expect from your business and your products or services.

  1. Is your website generating revenue, converting sales or attracting leads?

Conversions are the actions you want your website visitors to take, whether that’s making a purchase, filling out a contact form, or anything in between. If you haven’t looked at your website’s analytics lately (or if you haven’t set up analytics yet), do this now. If people are finding your site but quickly leaving (high bounce rate and low average time-on-site) or not visiting many of your pages (low pages-per-visit), your visitors either aren’t finding your website useful or are unable to locate what they want or need. 

  1. Does your site rank high on search engine results?

Gone are the days where simply loading your site with keywords would improve your search ratings. Google algorithms are constantly changing and they reward websites that keep up. If you haven’t touched your site in a few years, you may not be showing up high enough in search results, which can keep people from finding you online.

Keep an eye on the most up-to-date SEO best practices to optimize your site structure while delivering fresh, quality content that’s easy to find. And, if it gets too technical or you need some additional help developing or implementing a more sophisticated digital strategy, enlist the help of a partner with SEO optimization expertise. They’ll know the latest trends and will have experience with what works and what’s a waste of time.

  1. Is your site loading quickly?

And by quickly, we mean less than one second. If your site is slow, visitors won’t wait, and your first impression will be blown. Some quick troubleshooting can pinpoint where the problems are – and whether they warrant an immediate redesign or can be managed with some quick fixes until you’re ready.

  1. Does your website stand apart from your competitors?

How often are you perusing your competitors’ sites? Once a year? Less? Things move quickly in the digital world, and those who stay “on-trend” will stay ahead in the market.

Does your website design stand out from competitors or does it look outdated or cluttered? How do competitor’s sites appear on mobile devices? Where are they showing up in search results? Understanding your competitors’ digital presence and where you stack up against them should be major drivers of your own site design.

You can easily set up ongoing alerts to help keep track of the changes your competitors are making to their websites with a service like VisualPing. Set up some dedicated time on an ongoing basis to review what your competitors are up to. And (hint) do it more than once a year.

And, don’t be shy to look outside your industry. Think about what sites you absolutely love – and consider how you could incorporate their style, structure or functionality into your company’s website. You may not be an online retailer, but there is something to learn from businesses who live or die by their website.

  1. Are you using rich media like video and audio?

Let’s face it, our attention spans are shrinking. We want to consume as much content as we can, as quickly as we can. Not only are videos eye-catching, if done right, they can convey your messages in a more powerful and compelling way than standard text.

Think about what type of content you can provide in a non-text format. If your site doesn’t support rich media yet, a site redesign is probably in order and you’ll want to build it on a content management system (CMS) that you can easily manage. Speaking of which…

  1. Is your site easy to update and maintain?

If you need a developer or specialized coding expertise to make simple content changes to your website, stop. What you really need is a web design built on a user-friendly and robust CMS. The easier and user-friendly the CMS, the more likely you will be able to keep content fresh, remain consistent with your brand and support your content marketing strategy – all of which are good for SEO and good for business.

The Right Time

There’s no tried and true date for a website refresh. If you answered no to any of the questions above, you may want to consider a redesign or at least some incremental changes to tide you over until a complete overhaul is needed. If you answered no to more than four, we strongly recommend taking action sooner rather than later.

Redesigning a website is no small feat and it requires commitment and resources on your part whether you’re leading the charge or enlisting experts to help with strategy, design, content and execution. But if your website isn’t meeting the needs of your users, you’re not attracting the right customers, not achieving your business goals, or your competitors are leaving you behind in the dust, there’s no better time than now to get started.


At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward. Savor your brand. View our client work. Work with us! Contact here.

employer branding

Employee Branding Matters

In an age of online talent acquisition systems, 24/7 social media presence and independent sites such as Glassdoor and Linked In where prospective employees learn about and rate a company, it is more critical than ever that companies take stock of their employer brand.

The investment in employer branding seems to pay off for those who make it as:

  • 90% reported improvements retaining current employees, increased engagement and job satisfaction, and more success at attracting good candidates
  • 72% believed that branding led to improved business results [1]

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to have a strong employer brand is the cost per hire. A strong employer brand reduces turnover by 28% and cost per hire by 50%. [1]

To get results, employer branding must tell a compelling story about a company’s culture, values and the opportunities for advancement. Strong employer branding uses three tried and true storytelling rules.

Find your Voice. The voice of an employer brand is an element of the overall company brand. Make sure the brand voice is echoed in the employer promise and will help job seekers understand the company’s values, tone and culture.

Show. Don’t Tell. Telling a prospective employee that this company is a great place to work is about as compelling as telling a reader that this is a very sad moment. In employer branding where websites and social media are the tools of the trade, showing means going beyond text and incorporating captivating images and video.

Make every word work hard. In a world where attention spans and screens have grown smaller, the fewer words the better. Every word that is used must contribute something important to the employer promise and must speak to the applicant and employee.

Without the right people in the right places, a company cannot succeed. It only makes sense to invest in a strong employer brand to attract – and retain – the right talent.

[1] G2 Employer Branding Study, 2020

Want to Engage Employees? One Factor Makes the Difference

“It’s less expensive to keep an employee than to hire a new one.”

This long-held business maxim about hiring vs. retention is almost cliché by now. But the truth is that the costs of hiring a new employee exceed the costs of engaging and retaining current employees by a tremendous amount. According to a CAP study, the average cost of hiring new employees can range from 16 to 213 percent of their annual salaries.

Why so much?  Think recruiting expenses, interview time, and training. Then consider the impact of personnel changes on team productivity, interpersonal dynamics, and morale. Now, add in the fact that since so many jobs can be done remotely, employment is no longer tied to location – which makes competition for new talent more intense than ever. It all adds up. By contrast, employer branding and employee engagement efforts are far less expensive – if they connect to the one thing all successful retention efforts share.

The #1 Employee Engagement Success Factor

The number of ways to connect with your employees and show that you value them are virtually endless. For instance, you can:

  • Check-in one-on-one with employees to hear concerns and celebrate accomplishments.
  • Send team members thoughtful gifts or cash bonuses for significant achievements.
  • Create videos featuring employees to celebrate big wins and achievements.
  • Recreate in-office perks for employees working from home. For instance, if your in-office tradition included “Friday morning bagels,” reimburse breakfast purchases once a week.
  • Give employees a universal day off for self-care.
  • Offer the occasional no-pressure “happy hour” online. At the same time, recognize the realities of “Zoom Fatigue” and give your people breaks from being “always on-air.”

They’re all great ideas. But the success of these efforts will always hinge on one crucial component: How authentically they map to the organization’s internal work culture.

Why Culture Matters – and How to Make Yours Better

If your culture reinforces appreciation for employees as people, making them feel that they belong, gestures of gratitude will reinforce that culture, reminding employees why they love working there. If the day-to-day work experience is cold, impersonal, or insecure, however, no words or gestures – no matter how creative, heartfelt, or elaborate they are – will hit home.

Which sounds like your company – the warm, appreciative culture or the chilly, disconnected one? Either way, we’ve identified five things you can do to improve.

  1. Clarify your employer brand. Be clear about who you are, what you value, and why you exist as an organization. Successful employer branding depends on how well your employees' expectations match the reality of working for your company.
  1. Recognize that your people are actually, you know, people. We used to talk about “work-life balance.” Now, with so many of us working from home, it’s closer to “work-life integration.” Children, pets, and other life components naturally intersect with the workday. So, enable the flexibility your people need to be present in their lives AND meet their jobs' demands.
  1. Encourage, recognize and reward contributions. If you want to empower employees to work hard for your company, be clear about your expectations, recognize how their work contributes to the company's success, and reward those successes with praise and, when appropriate, tangible compensation in the form of time or money.
  1. Build teamwork and trust. No one works well when they feel unduly scrutinized or if petty conflicts discourage effective collaboration. Celebrate teamwork, identify and resolve conflicts quickly and fairly, and avoid any appearance of “playing favorites” among your employees.
  1. Listen up! Solicit your employees' opinions in ways that neither punish criticism nor reward flattery. Your people have perspectives on your business that may differ from your own – but are no less valid. Ask for honest feedback – and respond when they offer opportunities for improvement.

You probably can tell - employer branding and employee engagement are a passion for us at Relish Marketing. If they're important to you, too – we'd love to hear about your challenges, your successes, and what you aim to achieve next. Drop us a note or call and let’s make a difference together.


Employee Value Proposition, EVP, employer brand, employer branding, COVID19

Who needs an employee value proposition? You do – especially now.

In today’s uncertain times, having a clear employee value proposition (EVP) and employer brand may be more critical to your business success than ever before. Even if you’re not actively hiring right now – or are even focusing your attention on layoffs and pay reductions – defining and managing your EVP is essential as you work to shepherd your business through a global pandemic. After all, you need your current workforce to remain committed and loyal to your business. And, as businesses regain strength after COVID-19, a well-defined EVP and employer brand will help you attract, hire and retain the people you need to take your organization forward.

EVP versus employer brand

Let’s start with a couple of definitions. Your EVP is an internal strategic articulation of what the business provides to – and expects from – employees. Your employer brand brings that value proposition to life for candidates, new hires and longtime employees.

An EVP without an employer brand is dry and won’t resonate with everyone it should. And an employer brand without an EVP is an empty promise. In other words, you should have both. Success starts with a clear EVP, which can help you:

  • Provide focus and clarity about your company’s purpose and culture.
  • Attract the right people with the right talent necessary for the business to move forward.
  • Align your talent initiatives with corporate strategy (and therefore reinforce it).
  • Crystalize what people should understand about your corporate culture.

How to start the process of developing an EVP

There’s no such thing as a quick guide to a process that, by definition, is complex and nuanced. But we do want to offer some helpful guidance because the process of developing an EVP can shine a light on opportunities for internal improvements. Not all processes are the same, and you should be cautious about trying to develop your EVP internally. Like trying to put out a fire from inside a burning building, it’s possible – but it helps to bring in some outside perspective and expertise. If you try to gather insights from your employees, they may be so uncomfortable sharing anything less than “ideal” that all you get is an echo of what employees think that leadership wants to hear. In other words, you may not get the kind of accurate input you need.

Of course, not all processes are the same, nor is every process right for every organization. When choosing a partner to help you with your employer brand, here are a few questions to ask – and answers to look for:

  • How have you helped others develop their employer brands? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? Seek substantial experience helping multiple clients in multiple industries. Listen for what potential partners consider to be a challenge, as well as the capabilities and demeanor they bring to achieving resolution.
  • Our biggest recruitment/hiring/retention issue right now is [insert issue here]. Will the EVP you help us develop overcome that? The right EVP partner will help you address critical issues, especially those related to gaps between what candidates and employees expect and the experience you deliver as an employer. They’ll also show you how elevating your EVP just enough can help you pull your workforce from its current state toward who and where you want to be, in a way that’s more than talk.
  • What should we expect from your EVP development process? Look for a thorough process that gathers and analyzes input and insights, not only from executives, but also from multiple people representing multiple levels of your organization, as well as current candidates and former employees. At the same time, you want to be sure that the process will deliver results in a way that doesn’t waste your time.
  • What metrics does your process include? How will you help us evaluate effectiveness and resonance with our key audiences? The best EVPs can be backed up by research. And, you want a partner who will stand by their work, helping you test messages and make adjustments to get it right.

The importance of reevaluating your EVP (at the right time)

When you live and breathe your EVP every day, it can be tempting to want to update or “freshen it up” after a year or so. Be careful before you give in to that impulse. Consistency is critical to help audiences truly grasp your EVP over time. Even in unusual times like these, we recommend that companies do what they can to remain true to EVPs that have helped attract and retain employees who are loyal company advocates.

That said, while a well-crafted EVP should be robust enough to provide clear employer branding direction for three to five years, today’s times may be disruptive enough to warrant an update. Likewise, you’ll want to revisit your EVP and employer brand if you’re experiencing other major disruptions such as:

  • Significant changes in corporate structure (i.e., acquisitions, new leadership).
  • Industry changes (such as those that might dictate a shift from a manufacturing model to a service model).
  • A past problem on which you’re making significant progress (i.e., surveyed employees have illuminated an issue).
  • Competitive threats (i.e., they have a better, more attractive EVP than you and are winning away talent).
  • Competitive opportunities (i.e., you have a better, more attractive EVP, but not enough people recognize it).

Bottom line: Whether you’re striving to keep your current employees engaged or you’re looking ahead to new workforce needs, the right EVP can help you stack the deck in your favor.


*Adapted from the article by Relish Marketing President, Pam Willoughby for the Atlanta Business Chronicle Leadership Trust.

Maintaining Corporate Culture in a Crisis

Employer Branding in the Time of COVID-19

Today's coronavirus crisis has most of us trying to work productively from home, manage a distributed workforce and keep business alive. It's a lot to balance – which means that you might rank Employer Branding low on the priorities list. That would be a mistake. Yes, your employer brand should attract applicants and inspire them to accept offers. But great employer brands also keep employees inspired and motivated over time. They drive former employees to remain loyal advocates for the company, too. And if ever there were a need for inspiration and loyal advocacy, it's now.

For many companies, the COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating that corporate culture was never limited only to the human resources department – or even only to the office. And that realization is important for several reasons:

  • Employees are likely worried about whether business will continue strongly enough to keep them employed.
  • Insecurity reigns, with people scrutinizing everything from the nuances of expressions during Zoom calls to what others are saying offline.
  • Layoffs are happening – if not to your team members, then certainly to people they know, which intensifies anxieties.
  • Applicants may be feeling unsure about their status and whether the job still exists.
  • New hires probably wonder if work they signed on for is what they’ll actually be doing.
  • Finally – and don’t kid yourself about this part – your employees are probably using some of this time to figure out what’s next for them when normalcy returns – and whether it will involve your company at all.

In short: your employees need some consistent reassurance. And they need it from you.

We get it.  When changes in your business, your industry, the country and the world occur on nearly an hour-by-hour basis, it’s hard to craft perfect employee communications. Forget about perfect and instead go for regular, open and honest. Think about the hallmarks of your corporate culture and how you can continue to reinforce them. Ask yourself: How has the experience of working for the company changed, and what can you do to keep its hallmarks consistent for your employees?

Consider what we’ve started doing at Relish. Every Friday afternoon, we set up a Zoom meeting – not to discuss business specifically, but just to share stories and laugh together with some snacks and beverages of our choosing, as we often did on any given Friday in the office. Or, take a cue from Inc. Magazine (where – full disclosure – my son, Cameron, is a reporter). Inc.’s publishing company had long provided bagels for all staff members on Fridays. The company’s leaders realized that the tradition would be missed, so they instituted a way to keep the practice going – basically paying for all employees to order bagels on Fridays from any local shop that would deliver. Cameron affirms that the breakfast treats are much appreciated. However, the feelings of warmth and connection that those bagels engender are what the company is really bringing home to its team members and their families.

If you still feel like employer branding needs to take a back seat to other, more pressing needs, we’ve got your back. Call us and let’s bounce around some ideas about current challenges, branding and communications. We may be able to help. Regardless, if you use this time to solidify your employer brand and communicate it well, you’ll deliver some powerful support to your employees through the current crisis as well as after it ends.

Get Out of the Silo: Integrate Your Marketing in 2020

One-off marketing is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make. We understand why it happens. Sometimes, it's because they're afraid to commit to more than one thing at a time. Other times, it occurs when the marketing team doesn't have a seat at the strategy table. So, they're forced to work in reaction to short-term sales needs, or leadership’s "idea of the month." But, whatever the reason, not integrating your marketing in 2020 may be expensive on three levels.

First, individual, disparate marketing efforts are inefficient. They require new strategy and new content every time, whereas Integrated marketing allows you to develop strategy and content designed to leverage across multiple media. It's the difference between taking a 50-mile drive in which you stop the engine every two miles and one in which you simply drive the distance.

Secondly, one-off marketing is ineffective. Few prospects, if any, will make a buying decision based on reviewing one piece of collateral, visiting the trade show booth, reading one blog post, seeing an advertisement, noticing mentions on social media, or going to the company website. For them to get your message, you have to reach them multiple times, at critical moments in their decision cycle. If you put all your money into, say, your website, how do you expect to get people to click to it? If all you focus on is your trade show, how will you keep visitors' attention the week after the show is over? How about the month after the show?

Thirdly, siloed marketing efforts can cost you brand equity. By treating each new project as its own entity, you put your brand continuity at risk. It's easy to inadvertently "evolve" your core messages before your audiences have had a chance to grasp them. Shift your messaging even a little bit, and before long, your content will be off-brand, serving a short-term need at the expense of long-term presence and recognition.

The time has come to put a stop to all that. Here’s how to integrate your marketing for success in 2020:

1. Start with your 2020 marketing goals. Even the most ingenious concepts and messaging will be useless if they don't connect directly to your strategic goals. Consider where your content should feel fresh and new, and where it should reinforce and reiterate. Group your initiative components to show you where you can leverage content and design elements for the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.

2. Take a good look at the people you need to reach – be they prospective and current customers, potential, new and long-term employees, or thought leaders and influencers. Who are they? What do they want and need? What engages and excites them, and what stresses them out? And how can you connect with them, deliver what they want and help solve the problems that stress them?

3. Determine where these people are and how they work. What kind of information do they need on a day-to-day basis? How do they prefer to find and consume content – formally or informally, in texts, emails, whitepapers or video? Who are their trusted resources? Do they communicate via email, text, or phone? How do they use social media? What meetings and trade shows do they attend? What do they read, watch and hear? What websites do they frequent? The answers to these questions will tell you how and where to focus your communications.

4. Make tough choices. Unless you have unlimited funds, you can’t do everything. Go back to those 2020 priorities and determine what must be done immediately, in the near term and later. Measure those most critical goals against how, and through what media, you will pursue them.

Be strategic, and you will be able to develop the right integrated marketing approach to achieve the results you need for 2020 success.

jobs vs. careers, Employer Value Proposition

Building Careers or Filling Jobs?

New Research Says the Answer Matters

Here at Relish Marketing, we’re always watching the latest research and trends having to do with how successful organizations present their employer value propositions (EVPs) to candidates and employees. And the latest research from multiple sources indicates highly compelling direction for employers seeking to attract and retain talent in today’s turbulent times. It all centers around the difference between just having a job and pursuing a career.

Jobs vs. Careers: What’s the difference?

Functionally, the difference between a job and a career is huge – for your employees and your business. Jobs are short-term, whereas careers are built over time. A job is a means to an end – something people do to earn money. A career is an end in and of itself. A job offers a checklist of to-dos. A career provides a sense of purpose.

Statistically, the difference is striking. According to a recent survey by The Harris Poll for CareerBuilder, 50 percent of all employees feel like they have careers, while 50 percent feel like they only have jobs. Likewise, approximately one-third of those surveyed expressed satisfaction with opportunities for career advancement at their companies, while about one third indicated a plan to change jobs within a year.

It’s an even balance – but according to the latest Manpower survey of 40,000 employers, these numbers should worry employers, 45 percent of whom are struggling to fill roles. They should look even more disturbing to large employers, 67 percent of whom have this problem.

Think of it this way: If you’re like most large employers (or nearly half of all businesses) you’re working hard to fill open positions at your company – but the results aren’t happening the way they should. Meanwhile, about a third of your employees are thinking of leaving within the year. And fully half of your employees do not come to work the sense of commitment, purpose and drive that your other half do.

Learn from successful companies – and the talent they attract  

A survey of the World’s Most Attractive Employers - companies where job candidates are flocking - highlights a critical differentiator. More than half of these star companies (54%) emphasize an "inspiring purpose" in their Employer Value Propositions. This distinctive characteristic shouldn't come as a surprise, given a Universum survey of young professionals, in which Millennial and GenZ candidates rank "being dedicated to a cause" or "serving a greater good" as top career goals.

The Universum study also highlights a trend away from EVPs focused on formal professional development programs and following established career paths within a company. That's because younger talent is shunning defined career ladders and formal training in favor of more fluid career journeys and on-the-job learning.

Take a Fresh Look at Your EVP

Your EVP matters more than ever before – especially to highly desirable young talent. It must authentically represent the experience of working at your company. And that experience should offer ways in which you help team members build their careers through intrinsic growth experiences and the ability to contribute to an inspiring purpose.