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Do you know the difference between a consumer & employer brand?

By Matt, on 18th December 2023

I’ve worked in advertising and marketing agencies since I graduated, which is starting to feel like a long time ago but until I arrived at Chatter I’d always worked on the consumer and B2B side of the fence. So taking the step into an agency that specialises in Employer Branding was a bit of a leap into the unknown but one I was really excited to get involved in.

I’ve always been a big believer that the people who work for an organisation are a massive part of what makes a brand and that a shared voice can really strengthen how the brand and the business is perceived amongst its customer base. So it seems natural that a really strong employer brand, combined with a vision and set of values that align people within the organisation can only help to strengthen external communications with your customers.

Generally in consumer marketing (unless you’re talking about a really high value transaction such as a house or a car) you are asking people to make a short term decision about a product they want to buy. If you choose one packet of biscuits over another it’s probably not going to change your life but you might well be influenced by the communication of a brand that shapes that decision. 

Employer branding is different, it has the ability to change organisations, and when you are trying to influence somebody to choose to work for one business over another that forms a really key decision in their life. It might be something that really shapes who they become. If you want somebody to spend 40 plus hours a week doing something and making decisions that can influence how things move forward then it’s not the same as choosing biscuits.

This is where I think that businesses need to be really careful in how they communicate with their current and potential employees. There are far too many who think that taking a piece of communication that has been designed to engage with a customer and putting a recruitment or internal communications message over the top of it will do the job when an entirely different strategic approach is required. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be alignment between the two in how they feel and are presented. So ensuring that the marketing and people functions within the business work closely together is a key element of developing a successful employer brand. 

That’s where having expert guidance is invaluable, having an external view on how to take the elements required from a consumer brand and re-strategise and repurpose that style of communication to speak to an audience who are taking part in an entirely different transaction is key. 

So what are the key things to consider when developing an employer brand for your business?

  1. How are you going to ensure that your employer brand aligns with your external brand whilst differentiating the messaging and communication channels?

  2. What are the vision and values you want your current and potential employees to understand?

  3. How do you truly show people what it’s like to work within your organisation?

  4. What are the key things you want your people to communicate about the business?

  5. How do you ensure that your employer brand can evolve to reflect organisational change?

  6. What are the key platforms and touchpoints where you want to be talking to people about your place of work?

These are the key elements of developing and maintaining a successful employer brand from what I have seen within Chatter and the clients we work with every day. 

Whilst they certainly have the lens of somebody who has worked in external branding for many years, I think they provide a good checklist of the basics required to get a successful employer brand up and running. 

It’s encouraging to see an upwards trend in organisations investing in and understanding the importance of attracting and retaining the right people within their business. As the world becomes ever more connected and the opportunities for candidates to share their own experiences increase it becomes more important that those experiences are positive and truly reflect the vision of the organisation as a whole. So I can only see employer branding and communications becoming an ever more important part of the marketing mix that will be considered earlier and earlier within the communications development process.

I honestly believe that the companies who understand and embrace this will drive forward and those that ignore it will be left behind. After all, it takes a whole team of people to allow the consumer to pick up that packet of biscuits and if they aren’t the right people who have an understanding of what the business is all about then they might just pick up the competitor's packet instead!

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