Employer branding can be defined as the process of managing and influencing an organization’s reputation as an employer among job applicants, employees, and other stakeholders. Today, employer branding has gained more importance as talent attraction and retention become a top priority for senior leadership, hybrid work becomes a deal-maker (or breaker), vocal employees affect brand reputation, and strong employer branding reduces costs and improves revenues.
So, what role does marketing play in improving an organization’s employer branding? And what are some of the best practices they should follow? Forrester recently conducted a study to understand this. Here are a few insights from the report.
HR Meets Marketing
While many of the activities related to employer branding are not new, dedicating personnel and resources to this effort is relatively new. Employer branding is seeing increased collaboration between marketing and HR. A significant number of people in this emerging function have a marketing and employer branding background. The efforts are increasingly powered by marketers. Whenever marketers sense a need, they step up to the occasion.
That said, employer branding is predominantly an HR-related role. There are several touchpoints an employee has with a brand, which are not controlled by marketing. HR is also where most employer branding activities have traditionally resided. In a few companies, though a few team members are marketers by function, they report to HR.
Ultimately, employer branding requires a tight alignment between HR and marketing to make an impact. Marketers may have much to contribute but may not understand employee and candidate motivations or nuances regarding day-to-day engagement. Simultaneously, while HR understands this, they may lack campaign-related skills or resources.
Marketers Add a Unique Value to Employer Branding
Marketing provides a unique value to employer branding with:
- Perspective: Marketing obsesses over customers, and their perspective on customers is invaluable. Marketers own the overall brand narrative and experience. They are also uniquely poised to ensure the â€œinsideâ€ and the â€œoutsideâ€ of the brand are in harmony â€” any gap between these two leads to ineffective branding.
- Mindset: A smart marketer has an end-to-end lifecycle mindset over which they engage with their audience. They just need to replace a prospect with a candidate and a customer with an employee, and they can transform a traditional brand strategy into an employer branding one. The fundamentals are predominantly similar â€” attract, convert, build relationships, and drive advocacy. In several companies that practice HR-led employer branding, the focus tends to be on talent acquisition while neglecting others.
- Skill set: Most daily activities of good employer branding are close to what marketers do regularly, albeit for a different audience. Hence, marketers can bring their skills to employer branding to enhance the quality of the effort.
- Resources: According to a few respondents of the study, HR has a limited budget. And marketing can bring its financial resources, communication expertise, and other valuable resources.
Four components drive marketing’s unique value
Brand Thinking Upgrades the Traditional Approach to Employer Branding
Marketers have a unique perspective gained through their interactions with customers and prospects. Three brand and marketing strategies can significantly enhance employer branding:
- Build bridges across experiences: According to a separate Forrester researchOpens a new window , employees play a crucial role in delivering customer experiences (CX) and shaping brand perception. As such, employer branding should consider the relationship between such experiences and strengthen them.
- Lead with emotion: Emotional engagement transcends functional utility. Hence, it is a brand’s superpower. While employees and customers may have different choices, the power of emotions in shaping their choices is similar. Therefore, employer branding must go beyond the rational exchanges of employer value proposition and elevate it to meaningfulness and connection.
- Operate over an extended lifecycle: The prospect-to-advocate journey in marketing has its parallel in employer branding; it can be considered the candidate-to-advocate journey. But the brand’s lifecycle does not end once an employee quits. They may join another organization and still bring back much value to their previous organization. Hence, employer branding has an active role in solidifying the bond with a candidate and sparking advocacy throughout their employee journey and beyond.
Focus on Three Areas Bring a Massive Change
Marketing’s involvement with employees is not new. But as they think about more sustained involvement in employer branding, they should prioritize three key areas to bring about a massive change.
- Salience: The same resources, skills, and efforts that make a brand attractive to consumers are the ones that work to entice candidates. Salience is closely tied to brand reputation, which is in marketing’s care and can significantly impact attracting and retaining candidates.
- Engagement: A company’s culture feeds off and enlivens an external-facing brand. While HR manages the overall employee interactions, marketing must play a role in shaping the engagement in a way that reflects the overall brand personality.
- Alignment: Marketing should be closely aligned with HR in making employer branding successful. It should build a singular brand-aligned across internal and external audiences. The teams should ensure that activities like hiring, onboarding, and learning and development connect EX to CX.
Six Best Practices To Fuel Employer Brand Strategy
Â From the leaders implementing employer branding strategies and their successes and failures, we can identify six best practices to help navigate employer branding. The first three practices lay the foundation for success, while the next three are designed to ensure success.
- Begin with emboldened marketing: Employer branding requires a CMO who understands the business. They should have the wisdom to realize that a dollar spent internally often pays off more than what it would externally. Marketing functions need to demonstrate value continuously, and employer branding gives them a tangible expression of benefit and value creation.
- Be pragmatic about organizational responsibilities: Employer branding does not have a perfect organizational model; there is only a model that is right for the brand. Functions and organizations can try the type of collaboration that works best for them.
- Remove the executive blinders: Leaders should avoid falling into the â€œexecutive perception trapâ€. For employer branding to uplift the employee, CX, and the brand, work must root itself in companywide data and analyses. Successful CMOs work from the bottom up.
- Amplify authenticity: Authenticity has a high bar in employer branding as the employment relationship is highly transparent. Authenticity is heightened when the voice belongs to the employee, and the company takes a back seat when talking about â€œweâ€.
- Be better together: The success of employer branding depends on both marketing and HR. Hence, companies should take whichever collaborative approach that works best to ensure the two teams work in unison.
- Don’t take the hands off the wheel: The future of work is continuously evolving. The new normal will be more fluid for employees than consumers. While marketing may treat brand strategy as an episodic strategic undertaking, they cannot do that with employer branding. Due to the rate of evolution of work, marketers should continually keep a finger on the pulse of employer brand strategy.
Building an employer brand isn’t easy and takes time and effort. By following the best practices explained above, organizations can build a strong employer brand that attracts candidates, retains employees, and creates brand advocates.
How are you leveraging marketing’s unique perspectives and skill sets to enhance your employer branding? Let us know on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .