The relationship between consumer and employer brands within one organization — now here’s a topic that unfortunately doesn’t apply to every organization. But when it does, it can result in so much synergy and clarity for any branding efforts.
Caveat/disclaimer: I’m going to be mentioning brands throughout this blog post, with little knowledge of the inside operations of the company — just only with the lens of myself as a marketplace consumer.
Technically, you could argue that every company has a consumer in some capacity. But that really isn’t the qualifier for a brand to be a consumer brand. Consumer brands, for the sake of semantics, are ones that are well-known in the marketplace. This can mean they are well-known in a niche market, like Cisco, or it can mean they are well-known in a very broad large market, like Disney. There are a few ways to leverage your consumer brand to enhance (and potentially create) your employment brand, but first, let’s go through the vetting process:
- Does the consumer brand have a, more often than not, positive reputation in the marketplace? Think REI or Apple vs Comcast or United Airlines. If it does, then check this box.
- Does your consumer brand ostracize or shut out enough of the marketplace where others also want to stop buying or using your product? Think Victoria’s Secret and their growing consumer perception that they are unethically objectifying women.
- Does your consumer brand have the potential to skew job candidate’s viewpoints on what they’d be doing day to day? Think about Wells Fargo trying to hire data scientists. Wells Fargo’s consumer brand probably wouldn’t help their initiative to hire more data scientists, it may actually harm their efforts — because of the big, old, bank perception — whether it’s true or not.
- Is your consumer brand a publicly traded company? This could certainly help your hiring efforts, but only if your stock is doing well. You’ve got a grade out in the world, and everyone can see your performance with or without your messaging also being shared.
- Does your consumer brand treat its consumers as the priority? This one is actually a double-edged sword. We’ve heard, in recent EVP research we’ve been conducting, that brands who have a very strong customer-centric business model can actually have a toxic employment culture (because the focus is always the end user, not the person making the product or service). Think Amazon or Nordstrom.
- Lastly, is your consumer brand in the middle of a full rebuild or even just a refresh? If so, you may want to wait until that is complete (if the other above line-items matchup) or consider doing an interim brand campaign.
So, take a moment and consider the above before moving into a synergistic partnership with your consumer brand. An employer brand should not speak, solely, to what the company does. 1) Because your consumer brand should already be telling that story and 2) Because you should be speaking about what it’s like to work at XYZ company, not just what they’ll be working on. It’s a highly coveted idea to be able to successfully marry your employer brand while leveraging the consumer brand. One of the reasons, besides the obvious ones, is that employer brand tracking is so much easier when the consumer brand has a marketplace presence. Asking the external market about what it’s like to work at well-known XYZ company is not only feasible but so crucial to any employer brand despite how little it’s done.
We have clients, right now, who are doing so many interesting things (behind the curtain) and their consumer brand is just going in a completely different direction. So they can’t leverage the consumer brand reputation because it could damage the talent pool population’s perception. And let’s not forget the risk that also comes with this great privilege. That’s the potential for consumer brand error to occur and then directly affect the talent coming in. Think about Jared’s effect on Subway’s consumer brand. Or even Papa John’s recent de-throning.
Often times, it’s safe to keep the talent brand separate from the consumer brand, for the reasons outlined above. But having a branded house, with your consumer and employer brand living inside is ideal when possible.