By Lizz Pellet, the Culture Vulture

What do you get when you combine black, yellow and orange? Give up?

Stanley Black and Decker

We’re at the B’s on our quest to uncover the good, the bad and the ugly of company culture and employment brands from A to Z. It’s Black & Decker’s turn in light of the merger with Stanley Tools announced last week. This might be a hardware nightmare waiting to happen, or they just might achieve the desired “economy of scale”, blah, blah, blah. The press release has enough carefully crafted corporate messaging to allow for a quick game of buzz word bingo. (For those of you who haven’t played buzz word bingo, this tutorial is worth checking out.)

Black & Decker, headquartered in Towson, Maryland was founded in 1910. This gives us potential job seekers the feeling that “Hey, they’ve been around a long time and they’re a stable company.” And if I’m a tooler, I know the consumer brand well. If I’m a call center operator, I might not know the product line, but I’ve probably seen a drill hanging around in the garage at some point and recognize the black and orange brand colors.

Stanley Tools, located in New Britain, Connecticut, was originally a bolt and door hardware manufacturing company when it was founded way back in 1843. So Stanley wins the earliest brand recognition over Black & Decker by almost 70 years. They’ll remain the first name in this newly formed marriage of the two companies that have been competing with each other for a century.

Needless to say, this has been a deep-seeded rivalry as they have looked at merging since the 1980’s. Why hasn’t it happened until now? According to Black & Decker’s CEO, Nolan D. Archibald, the talks often broke down over who would be in charge. Guess who’s in charge now? Let’s take a look.

Stanley’s Chief Executive John F. Lundgren is being named chief executive of the combined company
The new name is Stanley Black & Decker
Stanley shareholders will hold 9 of 15 board seats
The merged company will be based at Stanley's offices in New Britain, Connecticut.

This is where the culture and employment brand of each of the companies is no longer a merger of equals but an acquisition in a merger’s clothing. Everything from the name, the number of board seats and location indicates who will control the company, and it’s certainly not Black & Decker.

A quick comparison of the corporate websites gives significant insight into what the employment brand of each of these companies is – or will be - once the deal is blessed by share holders, board members and regulatory agencies.

The Stanley site doesn’t have the word “careers” on it – anywhere, not even way down at the bottom in 6 point font. Nothing, nada that says anything about its people or that gives a potential employee a place to find a job. Even in these tough economic times for tool companies you have to have some sort of connection between the consumer brand and the people who make the products. Stanley doesn’t invite you to apply for a job, let alone find out more about what it might be like to work at the company. Some may say there is no reason to be inviting employees to work at a company that might not have current openings and given that there will be a reduction in force with the merger, come on, they still need to be creative or proactive to secure top talent for the future. The only cool thing on this site? The invitation to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They’ve hit the nail on the head with their social media presence.

Oh wait! Maybe you’re the average job seeker and you didn’t know that The Stanley Works is actually the corporate site for Stanley Tools. Why would you? Well, unfortunately that’s where the jobs are, so to speak. But there’s absolutely no integration between the consumer brand and the employment brand. They’ve totally missed the mark here.

Mr. Lundgren acknowledged the merger would likely mean thousands of job cuts, especially in the corporate staffs and areas like purchasing and warehouses that serve the same region. He said he hoped the job cuts would total fewer than 4,000. I bet the people of Baltimore know where most of the 4,000 jobs will be lost.

Black and Decker, on the other hand, does have a sense of employment brand. Their career link is right under the picture of the faucet and couched between “Investor Relations” and “Contact Us” – but hey, it’s there. There are some still photographs of what appear to be real company employees nestled together in front of the company sign, working together under the banner of great people, great products, great future – but nothing that would invite me to find out more. There’s a link to the diversity statement and code of ethics and standards. The typical corporate speak that inclusion is one of the company’s core values but when you try to find out more about their culture and values the “Rewards, Career & Culture” link takes us to an error page of “not found” I think that’s a good indication of how important those values must be.

It’s going to be an interesting combination to watch and observe how they will approach the cultural integration challenges, because you know they’ll have them. It will be fun to see what happens to the employment brand. Will it remain in the same non-existent state, or will they develop an exciting and engaging combined brand?

If I was a job seeker, I just might stick to Snap On Tools, the name is way cooler anyway than Stanley Black & Decker. Then again, their careers link is buried at the bottom of the home page too. What’s with these tool companies anyway?

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Maren: HR is not supposed to be involved in "online brand strategy". That is a marketing issue.

Lizz: Having a career link on your website does not mean you have a "sense of employment brand" either.

Sorry ladies. Why do we/you/us/they keep trying to force this "employment brand" into something meaningful. For 95% (or more) of the employers in this world - there is no such thing........
Interesting how neither company seems to care much at all about their employer brand, so in the merger and after all the layoffs are completed, just what will be left? What I mean is, why would anyone that had any options be inclined to pursue any opportunities at the new company?

Really great article.
@Steve - I'm just not buying the whole "employment brand" thing. At first I was skeptical - and gave it more consideration than it deserved. I'm still not convinced.

Why would someone want to work there? Maybe they like the projects they would do? Maybe the pay is right and they've got a mortgage? Possibly their buddy works there and says it doesn't suck? Maybe it's close to home? There are countless reasons to work somewhere. Not one of them is where they put their career link.

You're still one of the coolest guys I met in Toronto. Keep up the good work!
Jerry - I may be guilty of drinking some of the Kool-aid on the Employer Branding thing, and I do see your point that for lots of companies, and even more job seekers it really does not matter one bit. I guess you have to buy into the fact that companies with a weak or no brand will have a hard time making the connection with the job seekers about the great projects, cool working environment, etc. We are doing the HR Happy Hour show tonight on Employer Branding, and one of the first questions I am going to ask the guests is 'Why is this even important?' and follow up with 'Most people seeking a job don't give a crap about your brand?'.

Thanks for the props, Toronto was a good time for sure and hope to see you somewhere down the road.

Livin' the Dream!
@Maren - This is a stretch. Maybe it is so awesome to work there - they get so many referrals from current employers they simply do not need a jobs link? Could be they don't want to deal with hundreds of people applying every day when they have no openings? Perhaps they have the world's greatest internal recruiting team and they'd rather not be bothered by anyone outside their target zone?

What I'm saying is "who knows?" Certainly not us. Making ANY correlation to "employment brand" from a lack of jobs link on their page is in no way merited.

P.S. There is no such thing..........
Hey Jerry, you don't have to buy into employment branding - but it is real. Every company has a brand whether they pay a bazillion dollars with a recruitment Ad agency or not, it exists. An employment brand is (should be) based on the culture of the organization. And you are right, it is what it is like to work there. Candidates want to KNOW what they are getting into - even if it is just to pay the mortgage. Candidates don't want to work for a company that sucks, and organizations that don't bother to message (brand) what it is like to work there are not as likely to attract top talent than companies that explain what the work experience (culture) is like. My contention with ignoring the careers link positioning, or the Career landing page the link takes you to is that it is an indication of how the company embraces their employees. Sticking a career link on the very bottom of the home page in six point font says to me they don't much care if you apply or not. Moving a link to the top of the page, where it is easy to find, easy to engage and learn more about the employment experience is a statement.

Jerry Albright said:
@Maren - This is a stretch. Maybe it is so awesome to work there - they get so many referrals from current employers they simply do not need a jobs link? Could be they don't want to deal with hundreds of people applying every day when they have no openings? Perhaps they have the world's greatest internal recruiting team and they'd rather not be bothered by anyone outside their target zone?

What I'm saying is "who knows?" Certainly not us. Making ANY correlation to "employment brand" from a lack of jobs link on their page is in no way merited.

P.S. There is no such thing..........
Lizz et al,
As I first read this it reminded me of a time early in my career when I was working for a high tech company here in Silicon Valley and they decided to merge with another very large company in Canada. They were both network equipment companies making products for totally different ends of the newtwork. They merged to chase the end to end market leader, my most recent former employer. The gist of the merger was this though, "We make cars and we're merging with a company that makes boats - together we'll make airplanes". End result...epic fail.

But then I read the comments and that gets me more on point (sorry for the digression above but I think it speaks for a lot of mergers). Jerry - I am not yet sure how important the "online employer brand" needs to be, but it does seem to be one of the very best outlets for an overall "employer brand". Ask yourself this question - "If I were to go work for any airline today which airline would I want to work for?" No matter what your answer you would at least check out Southwest airlines. Why? Becuase they are consistently rated if not the best place to work at least among the top 5 best places to work. And they are the only airline that makes the list (Unless Jet Blue or Virgin has crept onto the list). And believing, or just reading that they are a great place to work will get you to learn more about the company. That they have never filed or been close to filing for Chapter 7 or 11. That they did not take a bailout after 9/11 and were the only airline of it's size or larger to do that. And there is a whole lot more to it, but suffice it to say that the "employer brand" in general, if you want to attract good people, is important.

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