Human Resources Today

Ahhhhh, summertime. Summer means different things to different people. Vacation, pools, sun, boats, short-sleeves, a nice glass of rosé on the porch...On that last one, I never thought I’d say this, but rosé has recently come to be a staple in my summer repertoire. I know summer has arrived when I pour my first glass of the blush pink wine.

That wasn’t always the case. I remember a time when I used to cringe at the thought of drinking rosé. But about twenty years ago, rosé was known as the tacky pink wine found in boxes,  a drink consumed by the budget-conscious and those with unrefined, sweet palettes. At least that was my perception (although I drank my fair share of cheap boxed wine in college).

Now that I have your attention (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a crisp glass of rosé in the summer)...before I dig into how rosé’s change in perception connects to employer brand, I want to introduce you to a #teamexaqueo blog series Alyssa Bani and I are launching called Shift. It’s about applying lessons learned - from anything that inspires us - to change your employer brand perception. Maybe you’re in an older industry, your business has evolved, or you’re overcoming a crisis affecting your reputation. We’ll share our insights on it all. Alyssa and I are both employer brand practitioners who have toggled between consumer and employer brand, so we love drawing connections between the two. This is the first of several posts you’ll see from us about changing perceptions. We hope you enjoy!

 

Now back to rosé…

Fast forward to more recent years. Rosé has gone from tacky to tasteful. It’s become chic, modern, and classy.  At its core, rosé is the same old product, but with a totally different vibe. Was there some sort of strategy behind all of this, or was it luck? While a pinch of serendipity plays into most cultural phenomena, there is often something more behind it.

In rosé’s case, this wasn’t by accident. Upon digging deeper, there was some substantial effort made to refine the reputation of rosé:

From the Washington Post:

  • “The Provence Wine Council, which represents hundreds of French rosé producers, made a whirlwind promotional tour of the United States a few years ago to talk up pink wines to distributors who decide what stores and bars will carry.”
  • “Magazine articles declared rosé the next big thing.”
  • “Hip early adopters had already picked up on the coming, er, rosé wave.”
  • In 2006, Jay-Z rapped about it in the song “30 Something,” heckling younger rhymers for their behind-the-times drinking habits. “Y’all drink Dom,” he rapped, “but not rosé.”

It was a multi-channel, influencer play. Distributors, magazines, early adopters, influencers, Hollywood. It created chatter from all different sides. You heard about it in a song, scrolled by it on Instagram, and conveniently found it at your local wine shop for $15 a bottle. It created a movement (“Yes way rosé” “Slay, then rosé” “Rosé all day”).

 

What can we learn about employer brand from rosé?

 

Lesson #1: Discover and promote your strengths

There are a few key drivers of rosé’s recent resurgence. These qualities - that were always there, just not heavily promoted - make it attractive to rosé devotees, many of whom are millennials.  

  • Quality at a manageable price point
  • Versatility for pairing with food
  • Variety (Provence or California? Sparkling or still?)
  • Entertaining-friendly, appealing to multiple palates
  • Easy drinkability compared to heavy reds or strong oaky whites

Bottom line: it delivers what they’re looking for - they just needed to be made aware of it.

The same concept can easily be applied to employer brand. Through research, companies can identify their attractors and realities, and align them with potential audiences or groups where those attractors resonate. Then, they can focus their marketing efforts on attracting and retaining those who are a good fit for their organization. For one of our clients, we uncovered that career growth was something they did extremely well and was highly valued by their employees. It was a key driver to engagement and retention. While they communicated growth opportunities to candidates, it was in general terms and of equal bearing to other, less important attributes. We worked with them to amplify these opportunities in an authentic way that spoke to candidates.  

 

Lesson #2: Cater to your audience

Another important distinction of the rosé of the past to rosé of today is the way it’s produced, which affects its flavor profile, sweetness, and in turn, its consumer. Previously, rosé was most commonly known as a sweet wine but today the best-selling rosés are more dry and crisp.

Connecting the dots back to employer brand: if there’s a key talent group you’re struggling to attract, consider ways to evolve your work environment or culture to better suit their needs and behaviors. (<—Click to tweet this!) Perhaps there are policies that can be adjusted, perks you can present or unique programs you can offer to pique their interest. This doesn’t mean your offices need to suddenly become dog-friendly, but perhaps you might consider updating your benefits to include health insurance for dogs to attract the millennial set (who are opting for pets and not parenthood).

 

Lesson #3: Gauge the vibe

Rosé is more than a pink-hued wine. Hop over to Instagram (#roséallday) and you’ll quickly learn that rosé exemplifies a lifestyle. No matter what label is on that bottle (or box, no judgment), rosé conjures up a carefree, fun-loving, laid-back, beach/poolside vibe.

Bringing it back to employer brand: how can companies define and sell themselves to employees and candidates in ways that go beyond the service or product they provide? There are so many ways you can shift your brand to create a memorable experience for not only customers, but also your candidates and employees, so that your employer brand encapsulates a lifestyle that reaches beyond the office walls. What are the most influential moments in your candidates’ and employees’ experiences? Don’t just show up for these moments, but be remarkable (and consistent) across all these touch points. For example, a cool recruitment video can only get you so far. Your job descriptions, application, interview questions and offer letters can paint a more comprehensive picture. With a few adjustments, you can make your brand unforgettable by helping candidates connect to an experience rather than disparate steps in a process to get a job.

 

Check back next month for the next part of the Shift blog series with employer brand lessons from famous consumer brand evolutions and customer rebranding efforts.


Lexi Gordon (@lexidgordon) is COO and a Principal Employer Brand Strategist and Alyssa Bani (@Alyssa_Bani ) is an Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.

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