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Keynote Speakers

Day Three – Friday 16 September

11.30am-12.30pm - Keynote Address

Mark Hornung    

Employer Branding: Where We Are, Where We’re Headed

Mark Hornung, Bernard Hodes Group

The concept of employer branding has taken root in contemporary HR theory over the past decade. The reasons are manifold— a dramatic shift in the demographics of the work force, an equally significant change in its psychographics, and the influence of mass media on virtually all aspects of modern life in the First World.

Employers are grappling with this issue with varying degrees of success. Managed largely by those born immediately after World War II through the early ’60’s (known as “Baby Boomers”), many organisations are still locked into the employment paradigm that was prevalent when those managers were coming of age. That archetype held that there were more qualified applicants than openings, so the role of recruiters was to screen out those who were only marginally qualified or unqualified. The applicant had to prove him or herself through a gauntlet of screening, testing, and interviews in order to win the job.

Due to the onset of retirement for the Baby Boomers and other factors, the labour market will get tighter than ever in the 21st century. It will become a “seller’s” market where labour will have more options as to where to work and why.

This tight labour market will be heightened by a concurrent shift in the psychographics of the work force. Psychographics are subjective attitudes and lifestyles that influence behaviour. Since the advent of mass media in the early ’50’s, people in modern societies have been increasingly influenced by advertising and brands. Indeed, neurological research programmes at both the U.C.L.A. Medical Centre in Los Angeles and Baylor Medical School in Houston, Texas, have determined that the human brain has evolved in the last fifty years to recognize brand names differently than proper or common nouns.

More significantly, the synapses of the brain that are activated by brand names are on the right–hand, or emotional, side of the brain. This indicates that people develop emotional reactions— positive or negative— to brands based on their experience. Thus, employers need to appeal both to prospects’ logical desires (compensation, benefits, work environment, etc.) and to their emotional needs (status conferred by title or office size, perks, and the eminence of the employer).

“Employer Branding: Where We Are, Where We Are Going” will examine these phenomena as well as provide case studies of employers who have done exemplary work in developing and communicating their employer brand. The presentation will review the connection between a strong corporate or consumer brand and perceptions of an organisation’s employer brand. We will also consider the impact a strong employer brand has on the operational and financial performance of an organisation. The presentation will also provide a systematic formula attendees may use to assess the state of their respective employer brands, how to map out a strategy for enhancing and communicating an employer brand, and how to budget for the process.

Mark Hornung has spoken before the national conferences of the Employment Management Association, the Society of Human Resource Management, and The Conference Board in the United States. Articles by and about him have appeared in the publications of the Institute for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM), H.R. Tampa (Florida), Fast Company, and Electronic Recruiting News (which dubbed him the “father” of employer branding).

D. Mark Hornung is a Senior Vice President of Bernard Hodes Group. Called “the father of employer branding,” he works with Bank of America, The Clorox Company, Raytheon, and other major employers.

Previously, Mark was Managing Director for JWT Specialized Communications and head of that agency’s employer branding practice. In that capacity, he helped develop branding strategies for Starbucks Coffee Company, Discover Financial Services, and Nissan North America.

Mark was CEO of Bravant during 1999 and 2000, a start–up company that developed an online candidate behavioural assessment application called Career@gent.

Mark was with Bernard Hodes Advertising starting in 1980, originally as a copywriter and rising to become the National Creative Director. Mark was instrumental in the development and launch of CareerMosaic, the first employment site on the World Wide Web (1994).

Since 1983, Mark has taught in the Marketing Communications certificate program of San José State University. His classes include Advertising Strategy and Principles of Branding and Marketing. Mark has a degree in Philosophy from John Carroll University.

He is co–author, with Richard A. Moran, Ph.D., of Opportunities in Microelectronics Careers, published by the National Textbook Company in 1984. His private writing has also appeared in the New Yorker.


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