First of all, let’s be honest. The perception of manufacturing has a “dingy” reputation. If you ask most people how they would describe manufacturing you’ll get a string of words and phrases like “assembly line,” “factory,” “machines,” and “manual labor.”
But quite the opposite is true.
From adaptive robotics, cloud-based delivery systems, pristine testing rooms filled with high-tech equipment, predictive software to in-house think tanks where collaborations are crafting the next generation “smart” factories. Once you really look into what’s happening in the manufacturing industry, it’s pretty darn cool. When is comes to attracting talent, you’d think these elements would be strong pulls in fielding and retaining ambitious and talented people looking to make an impact.
So why, by in large, do manufacturing companies not create and project their brand in compelling ways which demonstrates all the amazing things they do? While it’s one of many reasons, it’s no coincidence the gap in attracting skilled labor has some correlation to the image or perception of manufacturing being “not cool”. While industry and profits may be on the rise, manufacturing HR departments across the country are feeling the pain. Conservative estimates report a labor shortage by almost 2 million unfilled jobs by 2025 within the manufacturing sector.
In 2005, The Manufacturing Institute released a video as part of a campaign to spread awareness about the manufacturing industry and get younger generations interested in pursuing manufacturing careers. The video is fantastic and yet clearly demonstrates the gap between perception and reality:
To give this a bit more context, let’s take a closer look at Millennials. Currently, they make up 25% of the population within the U.S., adopt technology 2.5 times faster than other generations, prefer to interact with brands that are useful and enhance their lives, and give them an experience or the feeling of being more than just about a bottom line. And the criteria for which companies they will want to either begin or grow their careers with will be no different. They will seek out companies that align with their perceptions and ideals. Companies that give them a sense of being an integral part of something bigger.
And this is where your brand image comes in, or should come in. Your brand image can be a powerful first impression when coming in contact with a prospective career seeker.
Here are a few questions to consider if you have some lingering doubts:
Is your brand positioning up to date and accurately reflecting a unique angle in the market?
Are digital assets like websites and blogs meeting the ever shifting goal posts of mobile platforms and SEO analytics?
Is there a compelling narrative to your brand that someone can attain within two minutes of reading about it or interacting with it?
Is the imagery used to represent your brand authentic and true to a story you want to tell?
Is the first impression of your brand seen as contemporary and dynamic or stale and dingy?
Manufacturing will need to attract the best and the brightest to help propel the industry forward. Just because manufacturing has a long and storied history with particular stigmas attached to it doesn’t mean your brand has to reflect the same and rest on the laurels of generations past. The world of manufacturing is evolving, and the speed of business fueled by technology and globalization is exponential. Be sure your brand image is prepared to stand out and reflect the same.