Kerry Foods partners with SMRS to create new employer brand


When Kerry Foods asked SMRS to come up with a new employer brand, they could have over-complicated it. Yet with a strong visual identity already in place for the values, the team knew what needed to be done. They’d work with the look and feel already in place. But, they’d make it personal by adapting it to bring the stories of the people at Kerry Foods to life. Having seen it as a work-in-progress, it’s eye-catching. Relevant. And destined to deliver. Ri5 joined Eunice Clements-Tweedie, Director of Talent at Kerry Foods and Sarah Sturgess – Agency Director, Daniel Kevin – Lead Creative and Jon Windeatt – Lead Creative Partner – Copy, from SMRS to find out more.

How did you end up working together?

Eunice: “We met back in 2011 when I used to work at Vodafone. Ironically, we were talking about our employer brand then. Having moved to Kerry Foods, as soon as I knew that we were going down the employer brand journey, I reached out to Sarah straight away. I knew SMRS were the right partners. I didn't consider anybody else.”

What was the driving force behind developing your employer brand?

Eunice: “For my first year at Kerry Foods I really focused on being brilliant at basics. First, we in-sourced the talent resourcing team. Then I moved on to looking at our ATS, the right suppliers, direct sourcing, advertising, collateral and all that kind of stuff.

“Our greatest challenge is that we are the biggest, best business, people have never heard of. People know our products – such as Walls and Richmond sausages. We make 90% of butter spreads and margarines in the UK. We make all the finest ready-meals in Tesco, Waitrose and M&S. And you know all those beautiful ham hocks you buy at Christmas from M&S, and Waitrose? We make those too. Everyone knows our products, but they don’t know us.

“The consequence of that is, when we engage with candidates, it's a really hard sell. That’s why we needed an employer brand. We’re hoping that through the socialising of our brand and driving engagement, those conversations will become warmer. And that, eventually, candidates will start approaching us as Kerry Foods.”

How did you find the EVP process that helped to shape the employer brand?

Eunice: “It's really straight forward and easy to understand. It’s been a dream to follow. And the team at SMRS articulate everything so well that everyone can understand the process. They turned something fairly complex into something easy to absorb.”

Sarah: “There are six steps to our Employer Brand process. And after each stage we have a client check-in. Our steps are Talk, Dig, Develop, Express, Share, and Tune. Each of those creates a milestone which we use as a sense-check to see that the work we're doing is hitting the mark. We don't move on to the next step until we're comfortable that we're where we need to be. That it's all on brief. That it's making sense. Then we move on to the next part.”

Was it easy to get buy-in from the business?

Sarah: “Eunice asked us to run a workshop for 60 HR people. We had a little brainstorming session to think about what we could do. And we thought ‘Let's get people engaged by getting them to create a story around a value and make a short film about it’."

Dan: “Each table owned a story. We then asked them to direct a scene and film it on an iPhone. They then uploaded it, and we played it back on the same day to the whole room, so they could see all the other groups' films. It was such good fun. What was lovely about it, is that those things can fall flat on their face, but because of the people that we were dealing with at Kerry Foods, they just embraced it and had fun with it. And I think that shows the sort of characters that were in the business. I think if you tried that with someone else it wouldn't necessarily fly.”

Eunice: “It was a truly great day. All of HR were completely engaged. We started the journey with them.”

How did the values contribute to developing the employer brand?

Sarah: “In projects like these, you often find that people can't name the values. They don't have a connection as to how those values impact their day-to-day working lives. But when we did our research, it just came through loud and clear that everyone was aligned to those values. They could tell you stories, create reasons and examples of how they'd lived by those values.”

Jon: “They're just embedded into the people. The values are displayed on the walls in the buildings. They’ve got the values out there. And I think that’s partly because the values are human and authentic. Some businesses have values like ‘integrity’ and ‘excellence’ and it's all a bit high-brow for people on the shop floor. The ones here are very normal. Like ‘On it’ and ‘Better together’. They’re human and everyone has an example of it, because it's the kind of stuff that actually happens rather than some ambition or aspiration.”

How did you come up with the employer brand?

Sarah: “18-months ago the leadership team went through a process of defining the chapters in the Kerry Foods story and each chapter had a visual. They’d photographed real food, with model railway scaled figures interacting with the product.”

Dan: “The values were therefore already associated with a really strong visual identity. We felt it was madness to fool with that. What we had to do was to make that work for a big audience.”

Jon: “We knew this was the way to go. Sometimes one creative route just makes sense. If you’ve got a business that has a sense of self and a real character, then they know who they are. And there’s going to be a right way to express that. Had we done the normal ‘Here are three routes…’ thing, we would have done it knowing two were wrong.”

Sarah: “When the guys landed on the idea of moving the current values visual identity forward I called Eunice. I said, ‘We can come up with three ideas, or we can use the same amount of time to really perfect this one.’ And she agreed.”

What are you up to in today’s shoot?

Dan: “We’re here to capture people’s individual stories.  What we’re doing is getting a 3D scan of them, and we’re creating little figures of them.  We’re then using those figures of real people at Kerry Foods in the recruitment materials. We’re putting them in situ, and bringing their story to life.”

What kind of stories did they share?

Dan: “All sorts. There was one guy who told a gluten free story. His daughter had never had a birthday cake. So, this guy went to the business, and the business made that happen. As a result, he was able to give a gluten-free cake to his daughter. That was a fantastic story. And there’s loads more.”

Eunice: “Pretty much everyone has their own story. And these stories always relate back to a value. Our people are also shooting video interviews today as well, so we can share their stories on the careers site and other channels too.”

And how have your people felt about being involved in the project?

Eunice: “They thought we were a little bit bonkers around the modelling piece. But they trust us. Any nerves around being photographed and interviewed have been balanced with a belief that we’re doing something worthwhile.”

What’s the next stage?

Eunice: “We’re going to launch the new employer brand. We have comms champions across the business and brand ambassadors to help us. We officially launched on the 28th of September. That’s when our website went live and we’ve reskinned our LinkedIn and Facebook pages too. And then our graduate season went live 2nd of October. We’re running a series of competitions on campus with some of our partnering universities to engage our early careers.”

Once the excitement of this project has died down, what's next?

Sarah: “I think one of the main things is making sure that it doesn't die down because we want people to really take hold of the brand internally.  The comms champions and brand ambassadors are great. I think we’ll probably look at an employee referral programme, using the brand ambassadors to promote that, and share that internally and externally. Then connect into LinkedIn, and Facebook etc, so that we've got a fully connected referral programme.”

Dan: “Further down the line it would be exciting to get people sharing their stories on social media. Not just the ambassadors, but everyone in the business.”

Eunice: “All of our content is organic, which is really unusual. Like the guys said, we've got more to come. We give permission for storytelling. We remove barriers around social media. There are no dos and don'ts. We empower and trust our people. It's not for me to drive, it's for the employees to feel that they've got a voice. That's how they contribute to our employer brand as well.”

Sarah: “I think from a technical perspective, as this is the first time that Kerry Foods will have its own career site, we want to help Kerry Foods understand the kinds of people coming into their career site, their skill sets and diversity. What user journeys they're taking. Identifying whether there's a short fall of certain skill sets. Who are you as a business? Who are you attracting? And then feeding that into things like diversity, niche skill sets that are needed, difficult to fill roles, etc.”

What are you hoping will be the impact of the new employer brand?

Eunice: “I’ll be assessing how external cost hire reduces as candidates get attracted to us rather than the other way around. And how our attraction strategies consequently evolve. I’m also hoping retention should improve.  With a cohesive employer brand, our people will have an increased sense of belonging and purpose.”

Sarah: “And we're hoping that as people come through the career site they're self-selecting as well. We want to see applicants who are more appropriate, and more aligned to what we're looking for. There’s a lot of personality on the new career site. And that personality won't be for everybody. But for the people who connect to it, they’ll hopefully want Kerry Foods to be their number one choice.”

Eunice: “And we’re happy for people to deselect themselves out of the process. If you feel that pace, energy, speed, diversity and forward-looking scares you senseless… We’re not right for you. And that's absolutely okay.”

What have you enjoyed about working together?

Eunice: “I have this huge sense of pride working for this business. So being able to have a language and a framework to share that pride, is a hugely powerful thing. I’m really grateful to SMRS for helping us do that, so thank you.”

Sarah: “You're very welcome, it's been an absolute pleasure. But equally, you don't always get clients like Eunice who embrace the creativity, the excitement of it all. An employer brand is ever-evolving. Our job is to help market it, articulate it and share it. And we like to work with clients who are in it for the long-term, and who see us as long-term partners, who get that too. That’s why we work together so well.”

 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here. Use your own name or a nom de plume.

(Showing 1 - 2 of 2)

Bobson Dugnutt Date: Oct 6, 2017

I'm not sure which is my favourite bit of the copy. "Disruptive snacking goods with international expansion on the horizon" or "The choice is yours to choose".

paul roper Date: Oct 6, 2017

Lovely work and great execution.

Please log in to make a comment

Already registered?

Haven't registered?

Register for FREE - it only takes a couple of minutes

Not registered? Click here.

Kerry Foods partners with SMRS to create new employer brand