There’s No Such Thing As Employer Branding

Here’s the first thing you need to know: There’s no such thing as an employer brand.

In reality, your company only gets to have one brand. It’s not as if you can have a consumer brand that targets consumers, an employer brand that targets employees, an investor brand that targets investors, and a vendor brand that targets vendors. You can’t simply build a different brand with a different meaning for each audience.

The reason? No one thinks that way. You only get one reputation. We don’t isolate our opinion of a company as an employer from our opinion of it as a product maker or service provider. We balance everything we know about a company and determine one attitude towards it. Wal-mart’s reputation as an employer doesn’t just hurt its talent acquisition; it deters some people from shopping there. Conversely, Oldsmobile’s inability to create desirable cars didn’t just hurt its sales figures; it made attracting top engineering talent very difficult.

Not surprisingly, employee loyalty and customer loyalty are highly correlated. It only makes sense to think of the brand holistically.

* Studies show a high correlation between consumers’ admiration for a company’s product and their willingness to work for that company and vice versa.

Since there’s only one brand for many targets, every department from HR to PR is thus a stakeholder in your brand. They all have a responsibility to hold up their part of your company’s reputation and their cohesion is critical. We can’t have the HR people scurrying around building a brand that clashes with what the marketing people or the PR people are doing.

The term “employer brand” merely speaks to HR’s responsibility as a stakeholder for the overall brand. HR owns the task of conveying the brand in a compelling way to the labor market.

It’s important to remember that your brand already exists. Employer branding is not about starting from scratch – trying to conjure up some positioning that you think employees will find engaging. You already have a culture, a vision, and values (and they’re all already being communicated by other departments). Your employees already have a certain attitude towards the company. Jobseekers already have preconceptions. The first step is simply to figure out what these things really are. A little hint for you … it’s not what’s written on your website.

** For help, BRANDEMiX is here.

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