Blog

Employer Branding Lessons from Apple

With the recent passing of Steve Jobs, the world lost a technology pioneer. Love him or hate him, not only did the Apple co-founder create an iconic consumer brand with a cult-like following, he also created an employer brand for Apple which is surpassed by few companies.

In the recently released authorized biography, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, the Apple co-founder is quoted as saying, “We at Apple had forgotten who we were. One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.” Thus began one of the most memorable marketing campaigns of all time.

Originally intended to remind customers of the distinctiveness of the Apple brand, the “Think Different” campaign went beyond that. The “Think Different” commercial, one of our favourite videos of all-time, clearly communicates Apple’s employer brand as well.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

An employer brand describes the essence of what it means to be an employee of your company. Your employer brand sets your company apart from all the other employers out there. The purpose of an employer brand is to describe the type of employees who will be successful at your company, and the kinds of employee traits you want your employees to encompass. It also serves to describe why your company is a great place to work.

The “Think Different” commercial presents an emotionally compelling story, clearly identifying Apple’s employment brand. Who fits in at Apple? Those who have a rebel streak. Creative people who take risks. People who do things against the grain, somewhat counterculture. Those not defined by failure. Essentially, people who think different.

With all of Apple’s success to date – the company recently announced its best quarter ever with revenues of $46 billion and net profit of $13 billion – we believe the clarity of the employer’s brand played an integral part in that success. Despite the passing of its chief visionary, leader and spokesperson, Apple employees were able to carry out the company’s vision, remain highly profitable, and continue to set new standards for innovation with the reinvention of textbooks through the launch of iBooks 2 for iPad. From the outside looking in, it certainly appears as though the company has attracted the kind of people who will continue to fulfill the “Think Different” mantra.

Employer branding lessons that all companies can learn from Apple are:

1) Create a sense of belonging

Identify the traits of the types of people who will fit in with your company. Don’t simply identify personality traits, skills, experience and qualifications, which is what most companies do. Rather, identify the core values, the motivators and the inspirations that drive successful employees in your company. You want to attract those that can identify themselves with those characteristics, those who, when they hear what you’re looking for, will think, “These are my people”.

In Apple’s case, it’s “the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo … They change things.” They attract the geniuses who will change the world.

2) Be clear on what sets you apart as an employer

Creating a compelling vision for your company will set you apart. Employees want to work for a company that has a purpose and a set of beliefs that matches their own. An emotional connection with the company is critical to solidify your company’s reputation with your staff. They want to know how you’re different than all the other places they can work. They want to know what’s in it for them to join your company.

The “Think Different” campaign epitomizes this concept of creating your vision and building that emotional connection. Apple employees “push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

One only needs to look at Apple’s innovations over the past decade to see how they have changed the world. The iPod has changed the way we listen to music. iTunes has revolutionized the music industry. The iPhone has changed the way we communicate. The iPad has changed how we consume information. iBooks 2 for iPad reinvents the textbook industry, changing the way students learn.

Whether you “disagree with them, glorify or vilify them,” there’s no doubt that Apple products have had and will continue to have a global impact. And, if your personal vision is to make a difference and change the world, Apple may just be the place for you.

3) Employer brand must support customer marketing message

The beauty in Apple’s “Think Different” message is that its marketing brand and its employer brand are very closely aligned. The Apple message is that its customers are unique, cutting edge, counterculture and destined to do great things. It just so happens that the type of employees it hires are also this way. Starting at the top with an eccentric CEO in Steve Jobs and supported by a talented, quirky, driven cast of thousands, the employees of Apple are truly the only ones who can deliver on the promise to its equally talented, quirky and driven customers.

Spending time, money and effort on your marketing brand, without corresponding effort on your employer brand, will lead to less success since, ultimately, it’s the employees who will deliver the product or service you are marketing.

Most employers want to be recognized as a great employer. The path to achieving that “employer of choice” status starts with having a clear employer brand. Knowing how to tell your story and communicate your unique message to attract the right people to work for your company will set your apart from the hundreds of other companies out there.

Note: The original “Think Different” commercial from 1997 was narrated by Richard Dreyfus. At the time, a Steve Jobs’ narration was also created but never aired. After his death in 2011, this remixed version of the commercial with Steve Jobs’ narration was released by Apple.

We’re sure you have other employer branding videos that you’ve enjoyed too. Please send us your favourite videos and we’ll be sure to share them and add them to our library!

 

Copyright 2012 Clear HR Consulting Inc. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to HR Smalltalk! Get FREE HR tips, trends & information about legislative changes that impact your business:

 

Tags: , , ,

© 2004-2017 Clear HR Consulting Inc. All rights reserved.   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use