The values that a customer holds will often be very different to the values that a potential employee holds. The journey and experience is different. You will have a plan to take your new recruits through a period of embedding, training and development that you just can’t replicate with a customer, whose journey takes them from customer to loyal customer and then brand advocate. These journeys are not completely removed from each other but are dissimilar enough that they have to be looked at in a different way.
If you simply hold your customer brand up to the employment market, you will fail in many ways. Everything you do when you recruit is judged by the potential employee that you are trying to attract. What’s in it for them? You need to speak their language and appeal to their needs as an employee. Your careers website itself is the first step towards you attracting quality employees to your organisation. This should be written entirely with the potential employee in mind.
Of course you can’t completely detach the thought process involved in talking to your customers from the one involved in talking to your current and future employees. Often a customer will become one of your employees. This will happen in part because they know of your brand and want to work for the company attached to that brand. You will not retain your team if the employer brand offers a completely different experience to that of the customer brand. Your team knows what it’s like to be a customer of your company so you want them to be able to translate that to being an employee. The messages are the somewhat similar because what you stand for is the same. If your company ethos is about making people feel good, this goes for both sides if the equation – your customers and your team. It would be exceptionally difficult for your team to make your customers feel good if they didn’t feel that way themselves!
A strong employer brand is vital to your recruitment efforts because it gets your name and your vacancies into spheres that they just wouldn’t reach otherwise. Your brand reaches potential employees on social media, through networking groups and generates more clicks when advertising online. The brand can work for you when you are not in the office. A strong, positive brand brings customers to your door whom you didn’t directly reach out to. It brings referrals and new business from sources that you probably weren’t even aware of.
A business’s brands for the employee and the customer may share the same values. From the core values of the company and the mission statements produced from them, the key concept is communication. Once a value has been decided as the driving factor behind a company, the next job is to communicate this effectively to the two groups. This forms a large part of the branding exercise. The way in which the value is relayed depends on the audience. Both the customer and the future employee want to know that their interests are being looked after. The alignment of the employer and customer brands ensures that the end goal is one and the same: the company needs both parties to be happy in order to succeed. But for the employee to understand the business and function within it, and for the customer to buy in and spend money with the company, they need different instructions and communication. The strategy is the same, but the method for achieving that strategy is different for each group because the target audience is different.
The synergy between your customer brand and your employer brand will really drive you forward when it comes to attracting and retaining the top talent. The image that you project will be the one that people interact with. If you have more engagement on social media for example, you have more chance of filling that vacancy with the right person. If you have a large reach on LinkedIn, you will have people asking you about potential job opportunities, rather than the other way round. If you have customers that love your products or services, they may jump at the chance to work for you when the chance arises. Think about how your brand makes you appear, both in the world of customers and in the world of potential employees, because it will make your life easier when looking for talent.
But ultimately, remember that both brands have a different job to do and have a different target audience.