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2 minutes

Why an Employer Brand is Essential

Cassandra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Your employ­er brand mat­ters. You might be think­ing, ​“Of course it does! That’s why we have teams ded­i­cat­ed to brand­ing, mar­ket­ing, etc.” But lis­ten, we’re not talk­ing about the ​“face” that you por­tray to the world. This isn’t ​“thought lead­er­ship” or your ​“cus­tomer engage­ment strategy”.

Your internal brand, or employer brand, isn’t contrived — it’s who your company REALLY is, on the inside.

Brand is a matter of identity.

Both your cus­tomers and your employ­ees iden­ti­fy with your brand in a mean­ing­ful way. The explo­sion of the sub­scrip­tion econ­o­my is the clear­est evi­dence of what mod­ern con­sumers want from the com­pa­nies they part­ner with. They are sub­scribers, not mere­ly cus­tomers. They devel­op rela­tion­ships with brands they trust.

Subscribers believe that these companies provide ongoing value, memorable experiences, and most of all⁠, a commitment to listen and respond to their personalized needs. These same consumers also represent the modern employee.

More than any oth­er brand rela­tion­ship, today’s employ­ees want to feel this lev­el of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and belong­ing with their employ­er. They don’t switch jobs every two years because they are bored, fick­le, or dis­loy­al. The mod­ern employ­ee iden­ti­fies deeply with their work and with the com­pa­ny they work for. They are sim­ply look­ing for a home. When this hap­pens, employ­ees become sub­scribers. They sub­scribe to the vision, the mis­sion, the cul­ture, the pur­pose, and the brand. A sub­scriber stays, and not only do they stay, but they evan­ge­lize to oth­ers why they ought to become sub­scribers as well.

Ultimately, your employer brand is your promise to current and potential employees.

How to Build an Employer Brand

So if an employ­er brand isn’t a con­trived inter­nal mar­ket­ing cam­paign, then how is it built? The good news is you already have an employ­er brand. The bad news? It’s not easy to change it.

A great way to begin talk­ing to a poten­tial employ­ee about your brand would be to say: ​“Here’s who we are, for real, when no one else is look­ing.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly what you, as a tal­ent, HR, or an exec­u­tive team, say about your com­pa­ny isn’t real­ly what mat­ters. What your peo­ple say about you is the essence of your employ­er brand. ​“Here’s who they are, for real, when no one else is look­ing.”

Accord­ing to Gallup, 75% of mil­len­ni­als (the high­est of any gen­er­a­tion) ask fam­i­ly and friends about job opportunities.

Employ­er brand builds on the pur­pose, cul­ture, and val­ues of a com­pa­ny. The val­ues deter­mine the purpose/​mission, and these two togeth­er impact who gets hired and how they are treat­ed — thus a cul­ture is born.

But it all starts with val­ues. Not the cheesy ban­ner on the wall that touts ​“pas­sion”, ​“excel­lence”, ​“cus­tomer first” or some­thing of that nature — that’s a mar­ket­ing cam­paign (though admit­ted­ly not a good one). True val­ues are those char­ac­ter­is­tics gen­uine­ly espoused AND exhib­it­ed by the lead­er­ship of the com­pa­ny. It comes down to the age-old adage: ​“actions speak loud­er than words”.

No Recruiting Necessary

Recent­ly our VP of Sales, DeJuan, was on a call with a very notable com­pa­ny show­ing a demo of our prod­uct and advis­ing on their Total Rewards pack­age. The Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer says ​“we are look­ing for added ben­e­fits or perks for lit­tle to no cost”. DeJuan paus­es, then screen-shares the company’s web­site that states: ​“We invest in our peo­ple because our peo­ple are our most valu­able asset.” DeJuan read this sen­ti­ment back to the CPO and said ​“are these the same employ­ees you’re look­ing to spend lit­tle to noth­ing on?” Through a heavy dose of charm and wit, some­how this CPO (to his cred­it) got called out on this incon­sis­ten­cy and had the humil­i­ty to admit that per­haps look­ing for a cheap add-on wasn’t real­ly the best approach.

Noth­ing against your recruit­ing depart­ment (or mine), but a com­pa­ny with an incred­i­ble employ­er brand hard­ly needs recruiters. With a great inter­nal brand, prospects line up at the door, grab a num­ber, rock the inter­view, take the job, and give it their all because they are excit­ed to be invit­ed into the family.

If your employees, of any generation, feel a genuine sense of belonging — you’ve made a ​“subscriber” for life.

Your employ­er brand is your rep­u­ta­tion. It can’t be bought, spun up, or con­trived. You must care for your peo­ple AND show it. This expres­sion of care has to be mean­ing­ful, but it also needs to be spe­cif­ic and per­son­al. Get this right, and the whole com­pa­ny will soar.

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