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Employer Branding vs. Consumer Branding: Strategies to Boost Your Business

When you think of branding, you probably envision your organization’s top values and mission statement, logo and design colors, and the value you deliver to your clients or customers. That’s consumer branding, and it’s a big part of what makes or breaks a company. But there’s another important facet to branding you may not have considered: employer branding.

So what is employer branding? Put simply, it’s the way your company is perceived by potential new employees. Your company culture, the missions or causes you support, your authenticity, and your values are all contributing factors to your employer brand.

You may not have heard of employer branding before, but it can make a big difference to the way your company performs, thanks to the effects of employer branding on recruitment. “Employer brand affects recruitment of new employees, retention, and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market,” reports the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

With these strategies we share, you’ll build a reputation as a respected, forward-thinking organization that’s also a top-notch place to work.

What Is Employer Branding?

Your company’s reputation matters, especially when it comes to recruiting top talent to work for your organization. As any hiring manager knows, finding and retaining innovative employees who care about their contribution to your organization isn’t always easy. A study by Corporate Responsibility magazine found that 69 percent of job seekers wouldn’t accept a job with a company that has a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed.

Employer branding gives you the ability to shape your company’s reputation into an authentic, mission-driven brand that potential new hires can trust. Employer branding isn’t something you can establish once and forget about; managing your organization’s reputation is a long-term commitment that requires intentionality and an alignment of your company’s values with its internal culture and outward appearance.

SHRM reports that the most successful companies have three goals for their employer brands: “helping employees internalize the company’s values, achieving a reputation as an employer of choice, and recruiting and retaining employees.”

We’ve homed in on the consumer branding strategies that can help your organization achieve these goals with your employer brand. With these employer branding and recruitment best practices, you’ll be well on your way to having a favorable reputation and attracting talented job seekers to your company.

Consumer Branding Strategies that Boost Your Employer Brand

Know your target audience

You’d never dream of launching a consumer brand campaign without knowing exactly who your target buyer is, right? It’s impossible to appeal to everyone and trying will only lead to failure.

The same holds true for employer branding, according to James Ellis in a recent CareerArc webinar. He points out that brand perceptions are “individually understood,” meaning that different people will have different opinions of your brand. In employer recruitment, your job is to answer the question “Why should I work for you?” for the job seekers who are the best fit for your organization—and that means getting specific about your audience.

The Harvard Business Review recommends creating “talent profiles,” much like customer personas in consumer branding, to guide your employer branding efforts. These profiles will “define the qualities and qualifications required for different types of positions, alongside the leading attraction drivers for each target group.” Not only will this help you determine the best way to present your company from an employee standpoint, but it will also make it easier to narrow job candidates down to those who are the best fit for your company’s mission.

Build awareness of your employer brand

No one is going to buy anything from you if they don’t know you exist, which is why most sales funnels begin with the awareness phase. In this stage of consumer branding, your goal is to reach out to an expanded audience and get your brand in front of them in a way that creates a positive perception and generates awareness of who you are.

The same principle holds for employer branding. Your ideal employees might not be your target consumer, so they may have never heard your company’s name before! Others will be familiar with your organization as a consumer but have never considered you as a potential employer.

Maintaining strong digital marketing best practices, such as staying on top of SEO and making use of social media and email marketing, will help you capture the attention of job seekers. The Pew Research Center found that 79 percent of job seekers used online resources in their latest job search, and that includes using search engines to seek open positions.

Authentic opinions from people who have personal experience working at your company will hold more weight than more official information channels.

Content marketing goes hand-in-hand with your SEO strategy. Hubspot shares that 72 percent of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic, and Harvard Business Review points to L’Oreal as an example of a brand that provides tailored content directed at specific talent profiles to attract the most qualified candidates.

That standout content with strong on-page SEO will serve you even better when your company shares it via social media and uses it to stay top-of-mind for potential recruits by getting them on your email list. Hubspot reports that 76 percent of people use their Facebook feeds to find interesting content, making it a prime spot for you to build awareness of your employer brand.

Of course, Facebook’s rapid algorithm changes mean that it’s crucial to be able to raise awareness directly through email marketing, as users are twice as likely to sign up for your email list as they are to interact with you on Facebook! Using these tried-and-true digital marketing strategies to raise awareness of your consumer brand will also help you spread the word about your organization as an employer brand with a strong company mission.

Harness the power of social proof

Word of mouth, social media comments, and testimonials can all have a big impact on your company’s reputation with consumers in traditional branding. These and other avenues of social proof can also make or break your reputation as an employer. Remember, the public perception of your brand is your employer brand. It matters what consumers think of your workplace!

Authentic opinions from people who have personal experience working at your company hold more weight than more official information channels, like a paid ad promoting a job opening on LinkedIn. Encourage your employees to share their work stories on the social platforms they’re already using. An Instagram story showcasing the company picnic or a funny Snapchat of the marketing department decked out for the annual ugly sweater contest offers genuine proof that your organization instills a culture that leaves room for employees to express themselves and have fun on the job.

As Ellis aptly points out, if you have a friend who’s always complaining about her job, you’re probably never going to apply for an open position at her company. Manage your reputation as an employer by taking simple steps like responding to workplace reviews on social media and job-rating sites. A Glassdoor survey revealed that 62 percent of respondents had an improved impression of companies that responded to reviews, and 69 percent are likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its brand by updating its profile and sharing updates featuring the corporate culture.

Employer Branding: The Future of Recruitment

The consumer branding strategies you’ve relied on for years can help you develop an employer brand with a reputation that stands out from the crowd. Employer branding is the key to enhancing your organization’s reputation among potential new hires and attracting the highest-quality candidates.

One of the foundational steps of employer branding and recruitment is making the most of SEO best practices. Learn how to use SEO to optimize your careers page.

Ashley Brooks

Ashley Brooks is a content marketer and editor on a mission to help businesses cultivate genuine relationships with their audience. She’s all about well-chosen words that forge connections and smart strategies that make business blogging easier. You can always find her with an iced mocha in hand and a book in her purse (just in case).