Beyond employer branding. People are the brand.

Did you ever took time to investigate the right column of this blog? It has some widgets. And one of them suggests that I’m a member of Stima, more particularly a member of the expert group internal branding / employer branding. Regardless of the fact that I’m lucky to participate in the group, I feel like making some specific remarks about employer branding and branding in general. In my humble view employer branding is branding. Brands are people offering a product or a service. Bottom line? What we call employer branding today is in fact genuine branding as marketers always intended it. Employer branding is the future. But the future is now.



Branding: a logo, some colours and …

Have a look at the adjacent image and ask yourself the question what exactly is it that makes or breaks a brand?
Is it a logo with some colours?
Is a corporate identity or brand identity merely a design aspect?
Do corporate identity and corporate design merely indicate the same thing?
Or is their something more at stake?

I believe there’s something more to tell about it. To start with, let’s have a look at what exactly is employer branding.

What is employer branding?

Just as you have a brand position within consumer’s mind, there’s a brand position within the minds of employees and potential co-workers. Employer branding is branding like corporate branding. It’s more than advertisement, recruitment and retention. Employer Branding is a mindset. It’s the development of a culture. It’s about making choices and communicating them consistently.

Employer branding management however – and this is the big clue – is all about the interaction of the external employer brand and the internal job preview. Employer branding is the result of the value proposition and the employee experience. It’s about managing expectations. Exceed employee expectations, make them feel proud and encourage them to share that happiness with the world. Result? The external brand as created by marketing communication claims is reshaped.

Employer branding, positive conversations and the external brand

The goal is to manage your people in such a way that employees become engaged and proud, resulting in positive online conversations about their job and brand. Those conversations are consequently picked up by potential co-workers who are eager to work for such a great company. On the other hand, current employees are happy to stay in this amazing tribe / community. But next to that, it drastically impacts the external brand.

How employer branding impacts external branding?

A brand isn’t build in a day. So it must be something more than a logo and/or colours associated to a name. Branding is not something companies and brands fully control. The brand is in fact an association of elements in the heads of the consumers. You can’t control their brain and their thinking (you could do that more easily in the past).

The brand as such is constituted along all interactions occurring with the brand on several touch-points. One of today’s hottest touch-points are the so-called social media. And it’s exactly through those social media outlets that employees co-create the external brand identity. As a result, employer branding becomes increasingly important for the shaping the brand soul.

What’s even more, your corporate brand is your employer brand in the long run. Just think about the transparent, open world we’re living in. Add to that the inflow of Gen Y profiles into companies, and you’re there.

Companies with a negative culture are immediately picked up through e.g. social media expressions by current employees, customers, etc.. This heavily defines brand perception. You better make sure that this “employer brand” or culture matches the external brand created by marketing communication.

Business silos collapsing

Business silos collapsing

Bye Silos. HR & Marketing collaboration.

Sure, employer branding is pretty close to the HR domain. But employer branding looks at HR as Human Relations, not as Human Resources. Yes, the most important word in HR is Human, not resources. Let’s bring back human in business. The social tools are already there. And yes again, the most important word in social media is social, not media.

Overlooking all the above, it’s clear that we should integrate the external (corporate) brand with the internal (employer) brand. Bye silos. HR and Marketing have to collaborate to reach higher mutual goals.

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