Employer Brand vs. Consumer Brand: What’s the Difference?

Branding has been a buzzword for a while now—a hot one—but employer branding as a concept? That’s still relatively new. Many companies know they should be doing more of it to recruit talent and increase employee engagement—but they don’t have the budget or resources to follow through. Others might simply confuse it with consumer branding, which is understandable since there is some overlap.

If employer branding is part of your 2017 planning, here are reasons it’s important and also different from consumer branding. And, here are some ways to you can make employer branding work for your company.

The Case for Employer Branding

According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2017 report, executives said that they had allocated only 8 percent of their recruiting budgets to employer branding. Yet 53 percent stated they’d invest more in employer branding if money was no object. That’s probably because they’ve come to realize that employer branding is a worthy investment. Just consider the research done by Harvard Business Review, which revealed that a poor reputation costs companies at least 10 percent more per hire.

Add to that the fact that passive job seekers are very likely to “shop around” when seeking out better employment opportunities, and you can see why it’s so important to stand out in a good way. And that’s what employer branding is all about.

Employer Brand is Just One Puzzle Piece

Whether you’re talking about your products, services, workforce, or prospective talent, reputation matters. Having consistency when it comes to the core values of your brand is important whether it involves how you treat your customers or your company culture.

In fact, many organizations are finding success through promoting their employer branding outwardly to showcase why their companies are great places to work. Think about it: A satisfied and engaged staffer is more likely to make referrals or discuss how awesome their employer is on employee review sites and social media. From a job seeker’s perspective, such well-branded testimonials can be very appealing to see when researching a company.

On the flipside, as Kirsten Davidson, head of employer branding at Glassdoor, puts it, “when customers and the external world see a disconnect between a company’s brand and the true experience of working there, it sends a clear signal that something isn’t right.”

That being said, while there should be a clear connection between the consumer and employer brand, there are also several areas in which you must approach the two differently. Take a look:

Audiences. One major difference between consumer and employee branding is considering whom you are trying to reach. Naturally, the target for your employer brand will be much more focused than your consumer brand, for which you’ll likely want to have more of a mass appeal.

Communication channels. While you may do a lot of consumer branding through content marketing, Facebook, or other advertising channels, your employer branding will be more effective on platforms like LinkedIn, company review sites, a career-specific Twitter account, and a career page on your company website. Keeping the messaging separate will help ensure you are reaching your audiences on the channels they are most likely to be using when either in product research or job-seeking mode.

Engagement goals. For consumer branding efforts, you might measure success in brand awareness, customer acquisition, and sales. For employer branding, recruitment and improved employee relations are key goals. Therefore, you’ll need to think of employer branding as more of a long-term strategy you can build upon throughout the entire employment life cycle versus some of the more instant gratification metrics you’d consider when you launch a new product campaign, for example.

Voice. Many companies can establish a voice that appeals to their consumers, but when it comes to employer branding, they tend to fall short and come off as corporate and generic. Don’t be afraid to establish a distinct but authentic voice for your employer branding efforts that represents your workforce.

For example, when Cisco realized its bland job posting social media announcements weren’t generating much interest, they decided to add a more human touch and personal voice to their employer branding efforts. In fact, they enlisted their actual employees to tell others why they loved working for the tech company.

While the execution of your employer and consumer branding efforts might look very different in terms of who you’re trying to reach, the messaging, and the outcomes you’re trying to achieve, they should ultimately complement each other. When done right, both your customers and prospective employees will appreciate the value of your brand as a whole, and feel good about building a relationship with you.

photo credit: impatto Fiat ‘Get Ready’ brand film by agency IMPATTO via photopin (license)