Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Successful corporate brands a magnet for talented workers
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]
Published: 09/05/2022

​Companies and organisations with commercially successful corporate brands are more likely to attract and retain talented employees.

This is according to a study conducted by Michelle Wolfswinkel from the Stellenbosch Business School and Carla Enslin from the Independent Institute of Education. They did research on companies rated as top South African brands to shed light on the ways in which these companies attract and retain talent through practices pertaining to employer, internal and corporate brand building.

The findings of their study, the first of its kind in South Africa, were published recently in the African Journal of Employee Relations.

They interviewed strategic-level leaders in companies, which featured as a top South African brand in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 surveys of the Sunday Times Top Brands. These companies are brand leaders in telecommunication, health and medical insurance, banking, motor vehicles and life insurance.

According to the researchers, corporate brand plays a central role in both talent attraction and retention as it navigates the employer and internal brand and aligns all stakeholders, including talented employees in a high-demand and short-supply talent marketplace.

They point out that corporate brands are built from the inside, with the brand purpose, vision and mission and values providing strategic direction to the way in which the brand performs, communicates with and engages all stakeholders.

“We found that South African talent is drawn to a commercially successful and purpose-driven corporate brand that can offer job security and financial stability.

“They are attracted to and retained by the corporate brand's purpose and values, especially when they are offered opportunities to contribute to this larger purpose through meaningful work. Coherent, strong brands attract and retain talent, while talent, in turn, contributes to building coherent, strong brands.

“Our study also showed that companies that are effective at attracting and retaining talent consistently outperform competitors with regard to financial performance, customer satisfaction and employee engagement."

The researchers say that although companies in South Africa stand to benefit greatly from the proven value that talented employees bring, their attempts to attract and retain them are marred by, among others, political volatility and economic instability, poor education systems, low levels of skills development, high unemployment and pervasive poverty.

“With critical global talent shortages, the compounding effect of socio-economic challenges and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies in South Africa and other emerging economies are struggling to attract and retain the talent required for organisational success.

“This is particularly worrying given that 'war for talent' is raging stronger than ever with a predicted shortfall of 85,2 million skilled, talented workers by 2030. The Manpower Group's 2020 Global Talent Shortage Survey revealed a record high in global talent shortages, with 54 percent of companies surveyed reporting that they are unable to find the talent they need for organisational success."

According to the researchers, companies that are top South African brands have not paid the same strategic attention to crafting competitive, appealing employer and internal brands as they have done in developing and driving their corporate brand.


They say if companies want to attract and retain talented employees, they should leverage the commercial success of their corporate brand.

“The corporate brand should celebrate commercial success while taking a socially and financially responsible approach, sharing and reinforcing the brand vision, purpose, achievements, growth and/or marketplace support with prospective and current talent."

Companies should also leverage the corporate brand purpose and the value it aims to add to the lives of stakeholders.

“It's important to position the corporate brand as purpose-driven, clearly outlining the way in which the brand aims to add value to and co-create value with all stakeholders.

“They should also leverage their strategically aligned corporate brand for talented employees who are brand stakeholders and who can bring the corporate brand to life and share their positive experiences."

Equally important is leveraging the corporate brand through clearly outlined talent requirements and assessments.

“The clear articulation of talent requirements and the assessment of talent are informed by the corporate brand to ensure prospective employees meet the criteria and fit optimally with the brand."

The researchers also add that “top South African brands are clear about the talent they need to enable their strategic goals and live their brand purpose and values. Top brands will also prioritise the investment of time, effort and money to find – and keep – the right talent."

They say as the workforce responds to rising unemployment, a global wave of retrenchments and damaged relationships of trust between employees and employers, the corporate brand purpose is more critical than ever and lies at the heart of talent attraction and retention.

  • Source: Wolfswinkel, M & Enslin C, 2022. Leveraging the Corporate Brand to Attract and Retain Talent in South Africa and Other Emerging Economies. African Journal of Employee Relations, Vol.45. doi: org/10.25159/2664-3731/10043