Why A Strong Job Market Requires A Strong Brand

April 10, 2017

Workaholics01.jpgFrom all accounts, the job market in the US has been booming for the last couple of years or so. Last week, the government released numbers showing the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent, lower than it’s been for a long time. Sure, there are still many who are unemployed, underemployed or misemployed. But, statistically speaking, we are as close to full employment as we’ve ever been in this country. That means employers are struggling to find qualified talent to fill specific roles within their companies. They are competing for talent in the same way they’re competing for consumers of their goods and services. And, in the same way a strong brand attracts the right consumer, it also attracts the right employee.

A study conducted by the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM) discovered that, of all the prospective employees who turn down perfectly good job offers, 50% do so because they don’t like the brand of the offering company. It’s not that they think these brands are evil. They just don’t see themselves working under that banner. They don’t see themselves as a good fit with the brand and can’t imagine spending a career trying to make that fit work. Brands like Tom’s Shoes and Warby Parker, for instance, attract a very particular kind of customer; they appeal to consumers who want to add a dose of altruism to their purchases. These brands attract employees who nurture that same altruistic spirit.

Brands like Red Bull attract employees who are excited by the kind of marketing it does, heavily reliant on action sports and daredevil stunts. Other employees will say no thank you and look for other, more relaxing work cultures. There are no wrong answers, only good fits and bad fits.

In the golden age of yesteryear, an employer needed only to offer two things to attract a talented employee:

                                                                             1. Fair salary
                                                                             2. Decent benefits package

Today, these things are taken for granted. Any employee with marketable skills will expect them. Top talent, especially, is likely to receive multiple offers and they will dismiss, out of hand, any overture that omits one or the other. (Not that that ever happens anymore.) In their study, the NCMM further learned that today’s worker looks at four additional facets of the offer before making his or her decision. They inquire into:

                                                                             3. The purpose and mission of the work
                                                                             4. The meaningfulness of the work
                                                                             5. The quality of the co-workers
                                                                             6. The corporate culture

These latter four inquiries, you might have already noticed, are all branding questions. The company that has branded well has already told a story about purpose, mission, meaning, quality and culture. The company with a weak brand will have to fill in the gaps during the job interview. They’ll have to make a case for their brand's positioning  when there is no evidence the job candidate can see to back it up.

It should be added that the well-branded company doesn’t need to spend time and money crafting a unique selling proposition to lure in qualified job candidates. The same brand positioning and messaging that attracts your best customers will also attract your best employees. One of our clients, a software engineering firm with a unique specialty, routinely received unsolicited employment requests from like specialists all around the world. The best employees always want to work for the best brands.

At Boardwalk, we often tell business owners, “In an ever-accelerating world, decision-makers use your brand as a short-cut to make instant judgements about your business, your offerings, your values and, ultimately, your worth to them. That’s why it’s so important to understand, exactly, what your brand is saying about you.” By decision-makers, we’re talking, primarily, about potential customers.

But it bears remembering, prospective employees are decision-makers too. They make the same snap judgements based on an employers brand. Strengthen your brand and attract the very best employees in a very competitive job market.

Best Branding Reads _ Week of April 10, 2017

How Pepsi Got It So Wrong: Unpacking One of the Most Reviled Ads in Recent Memory
Well, now we know for sure. Purpose-led branding, if handled clumsily, can backfire in a big way. 

McAfee Rebranding Might Be One of 2017's Boldest Moves
The courageous decision is usually the best one. That said, this would terrify me.

No Marketer Is An Island: Meet The 7 Personas Of The Modern CMO
More on the beleaguered CMO. Is too much expected of this position? Should it be split up?

Why Brand Principles Supersede Brand Values
Brands can talk the talk but, without principles to back up their values, they can't walk the walk.

What Advertisers Are Worried About After the O'Reilly Controversy
Will advertisers’ concerns over brand safety lead to better reporting … and even the demise of fake news?

Desire: The New Driving Force for Brands
A strong, virile brand and a yearning young market … sounds like a love story to me.

Behaviors, Emotions and Moments: A New Approach to Audience Targeting
BEM targeting, a new tool to augment demographic targeting.

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Best Branding Reads
Week of September 18, 2017

Empathy, Distillation, Clarity: The Principles Of Brand Simplicity
A great article on branding written by the man himself – Alan Siegel

The Art of Conversation
How to convey the emotional truth of a brand at scale.

The License Plate on This Skier’s Arm Turned Out to Be One of Audi’s Cleverest Ads Yet
Audi gets millions of eyeballs looking for their missing logo. Brilliant.

The Real Value In Brand Vision, Mission And Values
Here’s a weekend reading assignment for owners and managers of brand assets.

Why Innovative Businesses Need a Brand Change Agenda
Innovation alone won’t change markets. You need a step-by-step plan for change.

New Logo and Identity for Petal
A new approach to credit card design for a different kind of credit card company.

How Budweiser Wins: By Wrapping Itself in the American Experience
A heartfelt appreciation of Budweiser – the brand, not the beer.