By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking

A quarter of professionals do not think their company has a strong brand identity — despite 97% believing branding to be an important attribute for a business.

Moreover, just over half of respondents (51%) agreed that they had been affected by a company’s brand identity at some point in their career.

When asked whether this was in a positive or negative way, 57% answered positive, 19% negative, and 24% both. One commentator added, “Branded company names on CVs make candidates far more appealing than those with non-branded career paths due to the reputation they bring with them”. Another, however, noted that “if one’s company doesn’t deliver its brand promise, people tend to associate who you work for with who you are”.

The survey of mid-to-senior finance professionals, conducted by Communicate in the fourth quarter of 2012, sought to examine levels of brand engagement at companies across the UK. Communicate wanted to find out what makes one company a more attractive place to work than another, and how important brand awareness is in attracting new talent and retaining current staff.

Three-quarters of hiring managers affirmed that if something was to damage a company’s reputation, recruitment would be affected. A further 16% admitted they have struggled to recruit because of bad press. Indeed, when respondents were asked if they concur with the adage ‘All press is good press’, 85% disagreed.

Communicate further asked if respondents would be more wary of a company with bad press or no press. A majority 83% answered bad press as it suggests a company has done a big enough wrongdoing to make it into the papers. No press, on the whole, was deemed “fine or, at worst, bad marketing... it does not necessarily mean a company is bad, although it does not necessarily mean a company is good”.

Over half of jobseekers would also reconsider an application due to negative stories about a company, with 48% of professionals declaring they have or might quit a job because of bad publicity. Whilst only 6% are happy not to review a role at a company which comes under negative scrutiny, 55% agree they would re-think their application and 39% indicate they would ‘maybe’ re-evaluate their position.

An additional question posed to participants was what they deem the most effective channels for forging a company’s identity. From the options given they ranked word-of-mouth as most effective and email marketing as least effective, with company website, social media, awards entries and direct marketing ranking 2nd to 5th respectively.

James Lock, CEO of Communicate, comments: “In light of several major brands being hauled in front of committees to explain their tax affairs in the UK at the end of last year, we thought it would be interesting to examine whether good branding does make a company a more desirable place to work, and whether bad or negative (or no) press puts potential employees off.

“I’m not surprised that most people think it’s important for a company to have a strong brand identity, but I am interested to read that a quarter of respondents don’t think their company does. With half indicating they have been affected by their company’s brand identity, and 83% stating they would be wary of an organisation with bad press, this is something business leaders need to think carefully about — especially in light of the fact that a quarter of respondents flag word-of-mouth as the most important channel for forging corporate image.

“When markets are tough and the economy fragile, it is more important than ever for company heads to set themselves apart from their competitors. If you can’t get your brand right and don’t care about public perception, you’ll have a tough job convincing the market — not to mention your current workforce and prospective employees — to put their trust in you.”