The Importance of Employer Branding

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‘There is no truth, only perception.’ – Gustave Flaubert

Whether Flaubert got it right or not, the idea that perception is reality certainly plays a big role in the concept of total rewards. Employers use a variety of tools to influence how employees perceive the overall value of their employment relationship. What’s surprising is how often the world’s best perception management tool — branding — is not given the attention and credit that it deserves.

In fact, employer branding is the marketing tool that delvers the benefits of any total rewards strategy. Employers branding and total rewards have a wonderfully symbiotic relationship – the more effective the branding, the greater the perceived value of any given reward component within (or consistent with) that brand. So when the objective is to maximise your organisation’s equity by attracting, retaining and motivating the right employees, as an employer it pays to focus on your brand. 

What is branding?

We all talk about our brands. We talk about brand equity and brand standards. But far too often we fall into the narrow view of branding – the tactical application of a logo or trademark to a company’s packaging or other communications. 

In its broader sense, branding is a process, an ongoing practice where all the tangible and intangible elements that constitute a company’s image and reputation are organised and communicated. In this sense, branding takes on a life of it’s own. It becomes a driver of satisfaction and loyalty. It becomes a significant differentiating factor. When branding is understood as the personification of a company, it becomes a primary asset the deserves conscious, careful and complete deployment.

Marketers have done an incredible job of getting us to understand and respond to consumer or product brands. To a somewhat lesser degree, we also have a pretty good idea of what a company’s external corporate branding stands for. Just think about Windows and Microsoft. Or Big Macs and McDonald’s.

It’s only more recently, however, that business has started to focus on the power of employer branding. It started with the idea that marketing to employees was a more successful strategy than mandating. If we want to align our employees’ talents and behaviours with our business objectives, we need to attract and retain employees who identify with our values so that we become their employer of choice, not chance.

Consumer or external branding works to influence customers’ propensity to purchase, repurchase and recommend our products and services. The goal is to become a product or provider of choice by manifesting key characteristics that the customer values. Employer or internal branding works to influence employees’ propensity to be attracted to, remain with and be motivated to sustain our business objectives. The goal is to become an employer of choice by reflecting those attributes that employees value.