3 Ways to Sell Your Company Brand to a Military Veteran

Armed forces color guard in Washington D.C. (photo courtesy of Congressman Don Bacon).

Businesses live in the world of brands – that which makes our customers, clients, target audiences, and key constituents feel loyal to our product, service or company based on the experience we promise to provide. We build advertising and marketing campaigns to extend brands, develop new business lines to complement brands, and hire leaders who align with (or can amplify) our brands.

When it comes to hiring military talent, promoting the company brand is crucial. In my years of working with separating service members and veterans, I’ve learned they are extremely concerned with the values, mission, and experience their next employer offers to employees, customers, and the marketplace. The military values and culture of integrity, duty, service, and loyalty do not leave when our veterans take off the uniform.

As you position your company to attract military veterans and military spouses, highlight these three core areas:

1. Mission

Whether your company mission statement was generated at a senior leadership retreat, board of directors’ meeting, or by your marketing department (or a combination of all three,) when talking to military veterans, they care more about how your mission is lived than how it reads on your website.

Be prepared to give descriptive examples of business decisions you’ve made in alignment with your mission. Share instances of tough choices the company has faced when clients, employees, vendors or the market go out of sync with the deep-rooted purpose of the company (mission).  

A big part of their military training surrounded commitment to mission. Regardless of rank or job, service members followed a unified mission and everyone’s safety depended on it.

2. Community

Service to others is core belief in the military. Some of the jobs and employers veterans meet seem to promote profitability and efficiency over commitment to serve others, and this is disheartening for someone who gave so much to the service of a cause and community bigger than themselves.

If your company does, in fact, serve a local, national, or global community, share details of the mission and constituency with veterans in the recruiting process. Show them how their individual contribution will support this effort and will directly impact members of this community. Paint a clear picture of how each step makes a lasting impact and you will get the attention of a veteran.

3. Leadership 

In the military, the lines are very clearly drawn between leaders and subordinates, and the leadership structure ensures the mission and vision is completed to produce the best outcome.

Leaders are created at a young age in the military. It’s not uncommon for a young Army corporal to have responsibility for other people and millions of dollars-worth of equipment. While their counterparts in the civilian sector might be at college, studying and spending time in a fraternity, a 19 or 20 year old in the military is facing real-world challenges and scenarios.

Leadership in the military is also focused on teams and team building. The group, team, unit, squad, platoon, etc. is seen as family by service members. They trust each other with their lives! To lead others who believe in you, admire you, and will follow you into the most complex and frightening situations requires confidence, skill, and ability beyond what is sometimes seen in the private sector.

Talk to your veteran applicants about leadership opportunities at your company. What is the path to leadership? How does your company culture define leadership? What are the leadership attributes you look for in high-potential employees?

The Takeaway

When recruiting or hiring military talent, don’t overlook the value of the brand. Your promise to your customers and constituents matters to veterans. When your culture, systems, and employees align with the values you promote, you have a high likelihood of attracting veterans who bring integrity, leadership, commitment and tremendous work ethic to your organization.

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