Whilst consumer branding has always had an essential role to play in marketing by aligning key business areas to a single tone of voice, employer branding is arguably a relatively new concept.
Consumer branding covers the image portrayed to those who may potentially buy into or invest in your firm’s products or services, whereas employer branding focuses on the reputation your firm has as a place to work within the industry. I spoke with some of our job seekers to gather their thoughts on how consumer and employer branding can work together hand in hand.
The evolution of technology and social media in recruitment has given job seekers far more visibility over their options in the market than they once had. Where their skills are in high demand, they can often afford to ‘shop around’ for new opportunities, much like a consumer does for goods or services. What’s more, web tools such as Glassdoor give potential applicants valuable insights into what it would be like to work for a firm, long before they have even set foot in the door.
It seems that firms with slick consumer branding can rely on their corporate image to attract and retain top talent to a certain extent, but that they must also develop strong employer branding to be a key player in the market. SME business growth has meant that top job seekers now have more and more opportunity to develop their skills in multiple roles and companies over the course of their career, and therefore, people are no longer in a position where they have to stay loyal to only large corporate firms to get ahead in the industry. It is important that they feel valued and supported by their employer, otherwise they will simply move on when the company is no longer the ‘right fit’ for their situation and aspirations.
When it comes to pre-employment branding, undoubtedly high application volumes can make it near impossible for busy HR teams to respond to all CVs received. However, applicants who invest their time in processes will always remember the companies who gave no feedback following interviews, or prolonged processes with little communication. The danger here is that these candidates may voice their frustrations to their network and therefore, the reputation of a firm as an employer can be quickly tarnished.
It is important that companies invest in employer branding to stand out from the crowd. To attract the best talent, they should aspire to position themselves as a top employer and place equal weighting on their employer branding as they do their corporate image. Your firm may have excellent values, learning and development opportunities and culture, but are these being effectively communicated to the job market? When I asked some of my network, it would appear the answer is ‘not always’. By waiting to tell potential employees about the benefits of working for your firm during an interview, you may have already lost out on applications from tier 1 professionals who may be attracted to competitors with stronger employer branding.
Whilst these ‘perks’ may be outlined on job descriptions, not every future employee is actively looking for new opportunities and so may not have access to these documents. To attract this kind of talent, your employer branding strategy must also account for ‘passive candidates’. The aim here is not to get these future employees to apply directly for specific roles, but to engage with your firm for the future.
There are many ways to approach this and what is effective will vary from firm to firm. However, taking a multimedia approach, using engaging video content, podcasts and blog posts can cover more angles and appeal to the many.
During uncertain times, branding matters more than ever. Now is the time to focus on your employer branding for the future. Those businesses who bounce back will need the top industry talent, and the only way to secure this type of workforce is to market your firm as a top employer now.
For more tips on how to improve your employer branding, or feedback on how your company is perceived in the market, please do not hesitate to contact me for a more detailed discussion.