How Consumer Brands Inform Employer Brands

Whether your best candidates are currently employed or out-of-work, the uptick in the economy means that job applicants may be a little pickier than they were a year ago. Companies should have their recruiting mechanisms switched on at all times, whether they have an opening or not. To do so, more and more businesses are focusing on their employer brands to connect with ideal, “perfect fit” candidates.

What is an employer brand?

An employer brand defines and showcases everything about a company’s overall identity. In a perfect world, your employer brand reflects your culture, and helps you recruit candidates who will see themselves as a cultural fit.

There will always be the Nikes of the world: brands where the people, product, culture and message succinctly roll into one great message. As we pointed out in our earlier article about company culture, Nike’s swoosh is as powerful a recruitment tool as any in the world today. Meanwhile, their career-focused messages invite would-be employees to “leave average in the dust.” But 20 years ago, Nike found itself in a much different position.

As this timeline from 2013 illustrates, Nike was at a crossroads during the 1990s. After growing into a global power thanks to great marketing, smart sponsorships, and product innovation, Nike’s consumer brand faced backlash due to the conditions in its overseas factories. By the end of the decade, the backlash had spun into boycotts and protests. As the consumer brand took a hit, so too did its employer brand. Nike began laying people off at all levels. But what could have been a death rattle turned into a wakeup call, and the company began to change. As they did, their recruitment message shifted as well.

Today, Nike’s employer brand, as this article points out, focuses on three key aspects: corporate responsibility, diversity, and appealing to one’s greatest potential. While the first two points grew out of the challenges they faced in the 90s, the third has been there all along, as evidenced by the company’s “Just Do It” consumer message.

Like their consumer brand, Nike’s employer brand inspires people to aspire to greatness. They want their employees to bring their A-game to work every day—and they want their candidates to know this up front. In return, the company promises to do the same.

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How would you boil down your employer brand message?

Perhaps you’ve heard this phrased another way: why would someone want to work for you? Maybe there are specific perks you tend to mention—things like more money, greater flexibility, or a chance for growth. But are there other answers in your consumer brand that point to your culture, and the expectations you set for your employees?

Let’s say you’re a busy retail automotive center, and your consumer brand message revolves around three takeaways:

  1. You’re a one-stop shop
  2. You provide expert insight
  3. You save people time and worry

How can you unpack these three consumer messages in a way that engages with the right kind of future employees?

How the Consumer Brand & Employer Brand Intersect

Let’s see what the bullets tell us.

  1. A one-stop shop says, among other things, that you have a lot of inventory. People from all walks of life choose your retail center for any number of reasons. Some just need to pop in and out for new wiper blades before winter. Others are looking for a synthetic oil for their new car, and no one else carries it. Others are restoring a classic muscle car, and they’re looking for a hard-to-find specialty part but don’t trust shopping online for it.

The takeaway: your employees must be courteous, quick on their feet, and able to meet customers no matter what their needs are. Employees should be interested in getting to know the inventory on a level that goes beyond merely pointing customers to the right aisle. Therefore, people with an inquisitive nature will excel. When employees don’t know the answers, they at least know where to go in order to find the answers.

  1. Expert insight implies that your people know the products, and care about helping customers find what they’re looking for. Will 100% of your employees be kit-car enthusiasts who love getting oil under their fingernails? Probably not. But again, they should care about the products, as well as the application of the products. The customer who needs wiper blades may also need help putting the blades on. The customer who needs synthetic oil may not be familiar with another oil that’s made specifically for their make, model and year.

The takeaway: your people should be ready to help on all levels, from the most basic, to the most specialized. Rather than “pushing a sale,” they see themselves as a bridge between the products on the shelves, and a customer’s overall experience. Conversation is as important as anything else, especially when customers aren’t sure about what they need. Therefore, people who are great listeners, and know how to translate needs into solutions, will do well.

  1. Saving people time and worry can be seen as a summation of the first two points above. Ideally, your store is top-of-mind for a customer, no matter how big or small the issue is—unless, of course, they need to get their car in the shop. Even then, some customers may turn to your store first before taking their car in for repairs.

The takeaway: a would-be employee should relish the opportunity to be on the front line of these exchanges. They should be willing to take the extra steps necessary to support your customers, even when it doesn’t involve a direct sale. After all, these types of interactions, and this level of support, can stay with a customer much longer than a simple retail purchase. Your company is especially looking for people who are self-motivated to learn something new, and who take it upon themselves to learn about products, tools, accessories and solutions.

How can your consumer brand inform your employer brand?

It’s true that your employer brand should be a reflection of your culture. At the same time, your consumer brand can help inform the culture you’re trying to build. We’ll go into greater detail about this two-way dynamic in upcoming articles on passive and social recruiting. In the meantime, one way to flesh out the answer to “why would someone want to work for you” is to go beyond the perks, and see what answers exist in your consumer brand.

As you unpack these answers, begin to outline the kinds of people and teams that will embody your company’s identity, and help you deliver on the expectations of your customers—as well as the expectations your company sets for itself.

The myStaffingPro applicant tracking system assists companies by enabling the creation of candidate-friendly job requisitions and career sites that speak to your employer brand.

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