Being nice really is good for business

The Marketing Society recognises one of the biggest challenges to businesses in Scotland is the attraction, development and retention of talent. Not just marketing talent but across the organisation '“ and especially in the ever-growing digital functions.

Marketing Society awards

Companies that are expert in developing strong consumer or business to business brands are not always as successful in applying the same techniques and disciplines to their corporate or employer brand.

The employer brand (EB) is a relatively new concept which covers both the experience of the employees and also the perception of the organisation as an employer.

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It has been long understood that happy employees are more productive and can often enhance the customer experience. As the late Anita Roddick of the Body Shop put it: “My people are my first line of customers.”And Michael O’Leary, CEO at Ryanair, admitted: “If I’d known being nice was good for business, I’d have done it years ago”

The EB concept was defined by Simon Barrow, formerly of Knorr and Colgate, as “the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company”. He also list the benefits of strong EBs as including:

Increased equity – an important part of the company’s value, sometimes called “goodwill”;

Lower recruitment costs – making it easier to attract the best talent;

Greater employee engagement – making them more difficult to tempt away;

Improved inter-departmental cooperation – sharing information and ideas.

One of the key challenges in developing a strong EB is for the Marketing and HR departments to work together effectively. HR has the more obvious territory, but perhaps not the expertise. Marketing has the skills but they are not always used to develop the corporate brand.

Ultimately, it is the role of the CEO or board to ensure both departments collaborate to achieve the best for the organisation as a whole.

Over the last three years the Marketing Society in Scotland has worked closely with Search and Recruitment Consultancy Denholm Associates to develop the Employer Brand of the Year Awards.

Previous winners include; Skycanner, Maxxium and Stripe Communications

We invite our members to nominate the organisations they believe have the best reputation as a place to work. We then ask the nominated companies to complete a questionnaire which covers the following areas:

The values and culture of the organisation and how are they demonstrated;

The vision and purpose of the organisation and how they are communicated internally;

Methods of employee feedback and how they are used to improve processes;

How does the organisation attract, select, develop and retain the best 

Our judges scored the questionnaires before a panel of industry experts selected the shortlists in two categories. Client Employer Brand of the Year and Agency Employer of the Year. The shortlists for awards this year are as follows;


Highland Spring

ICAS (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland)

Postcode Lottery


Whyte & Mackay


Digitas LBi


Made Brave



The winners will be announced at The Marketing Society St Andrew’s Day Dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh on 24 November when the guest speaker will be actor, author and activist Alan Cumming.

The occasion will also see two Honorary Fellowships awarded in recognition of the significant contribution made to the marketing industry:

MT Rainey, co- founder of one of the most highly regarded UK advertising agencies, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, and now Deputy Chair of Channel 4

Angus Meldrum, previously Marketing then Managing Director at Tennent Caledonian Breweries and largely responsible for the development of their iconic brands for more than two decades.

Both of our new Honorary Fellows are not only experienced in building powerful consumer brands, they recognise the importance of using these skills to develop the reputation of organisations as strong employer brands.

Graeme Atha is a Director of The Marketing Society. For information on The Marketing Society St Andrew’s Day Dinner go to or contact [email protected]