Communicating Culture Through Storytelling: Insights from Talent Branding Experts

3 min read

achieve Virtual: Talent Branding & Communications learning experience, July 19th, 2023. 

In the fast-paced world of talent acquisition and employee engagement, compelling storytelling has emerged as a powerful tool for organizations to communicate their culture and purpose.

To support our network of people leaders in this space, we recently hosted our Talent Branding & Communications program. During this session, we captured valuable insights from industry experts ranging from aligning brand promise, using storytelling to attract top talent, and how your brand can enhance diversity and inclusion efforts.

There was no shortage of information from these experts as they shed light on the transformative impact of storytelling in talent communication. Here were some of my notes from the experience. 

1. Jim D'Amico - Director, Shoreside Talent Acquisition for Holland America Group

Jim emphasized that talent attraction begins way earlier than the job opening up. Branding also aligns with defining how the role aligns with the brand promise. The power of having a high degree of specificity makes it easier to have a higher-level value proposition. When attracting jobs, focus more on the WHY and the WHERE of the Role. To communicate the WHY, you need to create customized micro value propositions that connect this role to the larger purpose of the organization AND the key interests of the talent you are attracting.

2. Kristen Weirick - VP, Global Talent Acquisition and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Alcon

Kristen emphasized the importance of basing Employee Value Proposition (EVP) on the global employee experience. Alcon's EVP incorporated an aspirational component that gets pulled through to the associate. The company organized a 6-session series that encompassed all EVP elements and its culture foundation. The initial sessions focused on inclusion and giving associates tools to practice inclusion in their lives and internally. Teams and employees shared their '6-word' stories, both internally to drive engagement and externally to engage new talent. She highlighted the significance of having senior leadership buy-in and involving corporate brand and communication teams.

3. Nikki Lewallen Gregory - Founder & Chief Meaningful Work Officer, PeopleForward Network

Nikki emphasized the importance of meeting employees where they are in terms of communication preferences. She stressed that podcasting is the most consumed medium, making it an ideal format to engage people effectively. Key elements of people-first communications include providing flexibility, giving clear and honest updates, and sharing stories to amplify communications internally. Authenticity and creativity in storytelling are crucial to make it relatable, emotional, and purposeful.

4. Melissa Dobbins - CEO, Career. Place

Melissa highlighted that effective communication also means communicating who will not thrive in the organization. Avoiding bias involves telling the real stories and showcasing voices as they are, without polishing or editing them to show a certain perspective. Authenticity and pride in who you are and what you stand for are essential in building trust through communication.

5. Cliff Courtney - Chief Inspiration Officer, Culture RESET

Cliff discussed the hierarchy of employee engagement, from retained to engaged to inspired, with inspired being the highest bar. He stressed that much of the brand experience depends on your people rather than just marketing campaigns or branding efforts. Inspiration events and energy triggers, like conferences or workshops, act as a shot of adrenaline, sparking engagement. When designing these experiences, put together customized agendas, credible voices, extreme dynamics, and formalized structures in events create memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact on employees.


To conclude the experience, the "Talent Branding & Communications" program showcased the transformative potential of storytelling in attracting top talent, fostering diversity and inclusion, and enhancing employee engagement.

By aligning brand purpose with culture and effectively communicating it, organizations can create a powerful magnet for talent and positively influence their overall impact on the world. By embracing authentic and relatable storytelling, businesses can connect with their audience on a deeper level, creating a lasting and meaningful impression in today's dynamic job market.


To support your journey in developing your brand story and communication strategies, here are some questions to reflect on - 


Talent Attraction and Branding

  • How does your organization currently approach talent attraction and branding? Are there any specific challenges you face in aligning job roles with your brand promise?
  • Jim D'Amico mentioned the power of specificity in communication. How can you tailor your messaging to create a higher-level value proposition for potential candidates?
  • What strategies have you found effective in building and maintaining a talent pipeline in your organization?

Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and Inclusion

  • How does your company's EVP reflect the global employee experience and your culture's foundation?
  • Kristen Weirick emphasized the importance of fostering inclusion. How does your organization practice and promote inclusion both internally and externally?
  • What initiatives or programs can you implement to ensure that your EVP is based on aspirational components that resonate with your employees?

Effective Communication and Storytelling

  • Nikki Lewallen Gregory highlighted the significance of using podcasting to engage employees. How can you leverage podcasting or other creative mediums to meet employees where they are and enhance internal communications?
  • Melissa Dobbins stressed the importance of authentic storytelling. How can your organization ensure that its communications are transparent, unbiased, and showcase diverse voices?
  • Share examples of powerful stories that have resonated with your employees and have contributed to a stronger sense of belonging and connection to your organization's culture.

Inspiration and Employee Engagement

  • Cliff Courtney discussed the impact of inspiration events on employee engagement. How can your organization create customized and dynamic events that truly inspire and motivate your employees?
  • What are some specific ways you can involve senior leadership in enhancing employee engagement and viewing employees as a competitive advantage rather than just costs?
  • Share successful engagement initiatives that your organization has implemented, and discuss their long-term impact on employee morale and productivity.

Measuring Success and Continuous Improvement

  • How does your organization currently measure the success of talent branding, EVP, and employee engagement efforts? What metrics do you find most valuable in assessing progress?
  • What steps can you take to continuously improve your talent communication strategies and make them more effective?
  • How can you align your leadership team's goals and actions with the overall purpose and culture of your organization, ensuring a cohesive approach to talent branding and communications?



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