Case Study


How GE went from "that lightbulb company" to one with the coolest brands to work for.


GE was advancing a new digital-industrial era — combining cutting-edge tech with industrial might to revolutionize energy, health care, transportation and aviation. And yet, if you were to ask the average college student what GE does, you would likely have heard just two things: light bulbs and washing machines.

Most millennials only knew the GE they saw in stores. After decades of being the go-to employer for overachievers everywhere, top talent was passing GE by, in favor of a new crop of trendy consumer brands.


To revive GE’s recruiting brand, Joe Smith conducted live co-creation sessions with interns around the world to understand why they work, and what working for GE meant to them. We also identified areas where current recruiting efforts were falling short and outlined an opportunity for differentiation: While the competition was cranking out all manner of modern-day novelties — from social media platforms to scented diapers — GE was giving the world what it needs, like energy, health care and transportation.



A new recruiting brand platform connected the enormity of what GE does with the very personal way it grows leaders to do it. At the heart of it all was an employee value proposition (EVP) summarized by the phrase “We build big things, your career could be one of them.” This duality of global impact and personal growth was carried out through every element of the brand — from a meticulous messaging framework to immersive candidate experiences.



A diverse set of signature experiences brought the new brand to life for candidates around the globe. A career camp adventure called “Dare to Lead” plunged top candidates into real-time experience of the GE way of working, with spontaneous collaboration and unexpected moments of mentorship. Since its pilot in 2015, Dare to Lead has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, with top students in the U.S., Africa, Asia and the Middle East competing for the opportunity to attend.

A new career booth used virtual reality to immerse candidates in what GE does for the world. A multimedia campus presentation balanced stories of bleeding-edge innovation with intimate accounts of personal and professional growth and reflection. A website overhaul conveyed the new story, fresh imagery captured young hires doing amazing work, while a brand video condensed the essence of working for GE into 90 inspiring seconds.




After the rollout of the new recruiting brand, applications increased eight-fold. The strategy was so successful in capturing the GE ethos it quickly creeped into more than just recruiting, with signature experiences like Dare to Lead and the anthem video being embraced by senior leadership for training and team building. The messaging even inspired a new series of popular TV commercials that brought GE’s brand of meaningful work to home audiences everywhere. Less than a year after Joe Smith’s work was completed, Fast Company profiled GE as one of the top four employer recruiting brands in the world. GE’s recruiting experience continues to build steam around the world – immersing students in meaningful work and proving, once and for all, that GE is much more than light bulbs and washing machines.


What we've done.