Imagine freshly brewed coffee being poured into a white cup with a green logo on it. You can feel the warm cup in the palm of your hand and smell the sweet aroma of caffeine floating like a vaporous invitation to a delicious escape from reality. If you’re like most people, you just pictured the iconic Starbucks cup. You may have gone a step further and imagined yourself in your local Starbucks with the sounds of blenders, laughter and conversation filling the air. Starbucks has enjoyed its prominence in the beverage arena but it’s not been an easy ride to the top! But what do you do when your cool, hip employer brand has lost its groove?
The company’s formula for success included authenticity, transparency and commitment to superior service. In 2007, this formula, along with the coffee blends, became diluted. It had gone from a grassroots strategy to more of a “gimmick de jour” and its clients were not impressed.
In an effort to return to the glory days, Starbucks called its founder Howard Schultz out of retirement. Rather than creating a new marketing campaign to combat the negative press and woo customers back to the store, Schultz instead chose a policy of authenticity and honesty.
He publicly admitted Starbuck’s role in its own decline and invited customers to help solve the problem. In interviews and public appearances, he would tell audiences that Starbucks had lost its identity. Schultz even went so far as to apologize to its customers for letting them down.
His strategy for embracing authenticity helped pull the struggling brand back from its decline. Consumers and the media focused more on how the company was recovering its roots and applauded its authentic approach. It wasn’t long before Starbucks returned to the seat of coffee dominance.
Employers that want to captivate their audience need to embrace the idea that being authentic is a successful employer marketing strategy. Sure, the terms marketing and authentic seem to be oxymoronic, but candidates are looking for an authentic brand experience and not just an average interaction with a potential employer.
The move to a more virtual employment experience has led candidates to search for something genuine. Like the consumer market, candidates are bombarded with sales pitches and according to Fastcompany.com, are gravitating to brands they sense are more authentic.
Being authentic helps separate you from your competition. Brands that embrace authenticity are perceived to be more trustworthy. Trustworthiness will help encourage client engagement and can turn your audience into brand advocates. Being authentic can be very scary at first and almost counterintuitive. If you believe that marketing is giving people what they ask for, then do it and be authentic.
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