Building and nurturing a strong brand is a matter of delivering products, services, and experiences that provide unique and compelling value to customers. That requires much more than creative communications. It requires aligning culture, people and processes so that they are incentivized to work, act, and interact in ways that produce desired brand outcomes. That means teaching and rewarding productive brand behaviors, discouraging unproductive ones, and - perhaps most importantly of all – hiring people with the aptitude to perform the way you want them to. And that starts with recruiting.
Here’s a quick example. Browsing the ‘careers’ sections of a few major supermarket chains, here’s what the first line of Safeway’s careers page
says: “We offer a range of career opportunities in a dynamic retail environment.”
: “It's very satisfying to work for a company that is passionately devoted to its customers, to its associates, and to the communities it serves.”
: “. . . there will never be a dull moment in your day! All you need is a passion for people and fervor for food. We can teach you the rest.”
It would be unfair to generalize about each organization’s recruiting efforts from just one sentence, but if we assume (always dangerous) that these organizations put some thought into the first thing they want job seekers on their websites to read, then these lines should tell us something fundamental about how they’re looking to attract talent.
We would argue that 2 of the 3 companies above are doing a good job of helping candidates self-select in alignment with their brands. Publix has long staked out a position as a customer service-oriented company, and their first line underscores that passionate devotion to candidates.
Trader Joe’s is known for quality and whimsy, and it’s looking for a (not so) few food lovers with personality – exactly the recipe for the experience of fun and discovery they want shoppers to have in their stores.
Even before a new hire opens his or her first training manual, these two companies are working to draw in personalities that are predisposed to deliver customer experiences that match their respective brand promises. Putting the right recruiting criteria in place doesn’t eliminate the need for training thoroughly, institutionalizing desired behaviors, and discouraging unwanted actions. But we believe that it’s giving Publix and Trader Joe’s a big head start over their competitors in delivering interactions and experiences that reinforce their brand promises.