Based in San Antonio, TX, Rackspace is an IT hosting company that has become ‘the service leader in cloud computing.’ Now with over 4,000 employees, known as ‘Rackers,’ the company has been widely recognised for their unique use of ‘Culture Branding’ as a way to portray the true essence of what it is like to work for Rackspace.
What is Culture Branding?
Culture Branding is the brilliant invention of Michael Long, Head of Culture Branding at Rackspace. Long defines Culture Branding as ‘the acts and efforts behind sharing an authentic picture of what it truly means to be a part of our team.’ This involves using tools like blogging, photography, cartooning and video to ‘document, share and celebrate’ the Rackspace culture.
While it is tempting to compare the concept of Culture Branding to that of Employer Branding, the two are actually quite different. Long recognises an Employer Brand as a static concept, unable to fully capture the vibrant culture of Rackspace. While a great Employer Brand can show the world that your company is a great place to work in general, Culture Branding is the best way to attract the specific kinds of people who will fit within your organisation.
Long’s aim is not to attract ‘the best talent,’ but to attract those individuals who are the best in terms of fit within the Rackspace culture. These are the people who are likely to be the most engaged, and they are the individuals who will make longer lasting contributions to the organisation. Long believes that retention is the best indicator of how well an organisation marries its culture with recruitment and hiring.
The Racker Talent Website
RackerTalent.com is the culmination of the Culture Branding efforts of Long and his team. This is the place to go to learn about Rackspace as a company, the people who work there, the Rackspace culture and career opportunities. The People page of Racker Talent is where you can learn about Rackers’ Core Values and their commitment to ‘Fanatical Support.’ You can also watch a video that details a day in the life of a Racker.
The Culture page has more videos and blog posts written by Rackers about what it’s really like to work at the company. There are 28 different bloggers from 4 continents covering topics such as Core Values, Rackers themselves, Service and Strengths. The most recent Racker Talent video, ‘Get Your Awesome On!’ already has over 5,800 views.
Culture Branding Results at Rackspace
Just two years after launching the Racker Talent site, Rackspace is already seeing astonishing progress in the form of measurable results. Visits to the company’s career site have jumped from 12,000 a month in 2010 to 100,000 a month in 2012. The Culture Branding team has even demonstrated that their Culture site is the top source of job candidates in terms of both quantity and quality, with an astounding 60% rate of hire. People who visit the Culture page view 3 times as many pages on the Rackspace site, stay for twice as long, and are 70% more likely to land a job with the company.
Build Your Own Culture Brand
If you’ve been inspired by the success of Culture Branding at Rackspace, here are some tips for building a unique Culture Brand for your company:
- Get in the trenches! Michael Long began his Culture Branding journey at Rackspace by focusing on the Rackers themselves, with the aim of helping Rackers share their personal stories in their own voices. Last year, Long embarked on a ‘Rackspace Walkabout,’ which involved travelling around to spend time with Rackers in different locations, across different work groups.
- Invite everyone to contribute content to your Culture Brand. Culture Branding is not a job to be done solely by a handful of individuals. An authentic Culture Brand must come from the efforts of people from all over the organisation. By encouraging a variety of different employees to write blog posts about their own unique experiences, for example, Rackspace is better able to present a true impression of their culture.
- Share authentic employee stories. People who are interested in your company culture want to see more than photos of employees and generic videos about your company values. One of the best ways to present your Culture Brand is by sharing the unique stories and experiences of individual employees. Rackspace does this in a variety of ways, one of which being a series of blog posts by Rackers sharing real-life examples of the company’s Core Values in action.
- Understand culture as a dynamic phenomenon. Organisational culture should be seen as an active, evolving entity – it is alive. This means that the task of Culture Branding can never be ‘complete.’ Long is constantly roaming through the Rackspace offices in search of new elements of the company culture to share. In one year, he snapped over 26,000 pictures – just to give you an idea of the magnitude of his efforts. Effective Culture Branding requires ‘real-time engagement’ with the people, artefacts and events that make up your company culture, and it is crucial to always be on the lookout for new inspiration.
- Social media is only a method, not an end in itself. Culture Branding is about telling stories in different ways, whether that may be YouTube videos, blog posts or tweets. The point is that you have to get the purpose and message right long before you even consider which social media channels to use.
For more on employer branding, check out how tech giant Intuit Do Employer Branding and Recruitment on Social Media [Case Study].
Adriana Costello is a writer for Link Humans and a student at the London School of Economics in the MSc Management and HR programme. She also blogs about HR and Social Media for Jumpstart:HR. Adriana has a BA in Psychology and a BSBA in Business Administration from Boston University. Connect with Adriana on Twitter: @AdrianaTereza.