Element Three president shares employee brand advice at luncheon


Tiffany Sauder definitely saw the value in making her debut as a OneZone speaker.

Although the Element Three CEO and president offered advice, she knows it was good exposure as well.

“It’s a great opportunity to converse with 300 different business people in the area,” she said. 

Sauder, whose full-service marketing agency is based in Indianapolis, addressed “The Secret to Crushing Your Employee Brand” at the OneZone luncheon Aug. 14 at the Forum Conference Center in Fishers.

Instead of simply emphasizing stock options, health benefits, the Zionsville resident said companies should emphasize their vision.

“Be honest with yourself about who you are and who you aren’t,” Sauder said. “When we get a call, it’s usually something like this, ‘I was at a trade show and saw this, my competitor did this thing and I really liked it and would like you to do that for me, too.’ That is like wearing someone else’s clothes to prom. Why don’t you come up with your own idea? What is it about me that people like? It cannot be exactly what your competitor is doing.”

Sauder said the company has to be honest with itself about its problems as well.

“I think we see ourselves in this aspirational way, and the best way to understand how people really see your company is to go ask your customers, your vendors and your employees,” she said. 

Sauder said she had to learn that when starting Element Three at age 25 in 2005.

“I thought I had to be the most buttoned-up professional on the planet,” she said. “I had to really look the part. I had to say all the right words. That’s not who I am.”

Sauder said another guideline is the brand cannot surpass the vision of its leader.

“Apple was not a surprise to Steve Jobs. He saw it the whole time,” Sauder said. “Visionaries are not surprised. We have to take ownership of the fact if we don’t see it, it will never become. Have the courage, have the audacity and have the gumption to really create a vision for what you can become.”

Sauder said companies lose employees’ hearts when leaders don’t create a vision.

Sauder said the company has to look at how it manages talent selection, recruitment, development and retention

“The mistake I see companies make is being bad on all these things to be excellent at all of them in just one quarter,” Sauder said. “It’s, ‘We’re going to do all these things in a quarter.’ You won’t. Think about if you are getting people to the interview stage, but you are not winning.”

Sauder said turnover can be frequent when employees don’t have a career understanding.

“Customers will never love a company unless their employees love it first,” Sauder said. 

Element Three made Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies for the sixth consecutive year in 2019.

“If we are going to say we know how to help growing companies, we have to know how to do that ourselves,” said Sauder, who has approximately 60 people on staff.

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