REI announced Monday that it would be closed Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving when stores roll out major discounts and open early to jumpstart holiday sales).
REI, a store focused on camping and other outdoor activities, asked their employees to spend that day outside in a press release that was echoed across social and “standard” media.
In standing up for who they were and what they believed in, REI potentially lost out on millions of dollars in gift-related revenue. But at the same time, they defined who they were, not just to consumers, but in relation to the competition, and to their employees. Oh, and they also got millions in free advertising, which is a nice bonus.
This is the same thing CVS did when it announced it would stop selling cigarettes. Or when Walmart increased hourly wages.
So the next time you wonder, “What can we do to enhance our employer brand?” you should really be asking, “Are we really different? And if so, how? And how do we make that difference clear to everyone?”
Your employer brand is your reflection. But instead of spending your time polishing the mirror, focus on what that mirror is reflecting.