Understanding Your Employer Brand

In 2017, Antilles Economics and Blueprint Creative Inc. embarked on a project to understand the employee view of the employer brand. Since publishing those results (you can download the executive summary here), I have received a few queries from persons seeking to understand their organisation’s employer brand and how to assess its strength.

What is an employer brand?

The concept of the employer brand encompasses all aspects of an organisation’s reputation as an employer, and embodies the idea that companies should have an articulated value proposition for its employees. The strength of the employer brand, therefore, captures the extent to which your organisation is known, liked and trusted by its current and prospective employees. You may argue that the customer brand and the employer brand are the same, because you cannot separate the two. But, I’ve not found that to be the case. There are many companies whose products and services we happily consume, but we would never want to work there. From where we stand on the outside, these companies do not appear to be a good fit for us when we consider its corporate culture and career development opportunities.

So, how do we figure out how people view our organisation as a place to work?

Understanding perceptions of your organisation’s employer brand can be approached in much the same way as understanding perceptions of your consumer brand, but with some obvious adjustments.  Good sources of input include current employees, recruitment agencies and persons that visit your career pages and/or apply for a vacancy. For feedback from the general public, which would include persons that have had no employment-related contact, you can consider surveys. It is critical that in this research phase, you seek to uncover not only what people think, but also why they think what they think.

How do we use these insights?

Armed with a deeper understanding of how your employer brand is viewed, HR and Marketing can now begin work to shape perceptions. LinkedIn, online careers pages and all forms of recruitment should be aligned to convey what it would be like to work for the organisation.

Marketing efforts alone, however, will not be enough. Existing employees will have to be engaged. Similar to product brands, persons verify or refute your brand’s promises when they interact with the brand. For example, if a company advertises that its widget is the longest lasting widget in the market, but when you use it it falls apart after one use, you no longer trust that company. A similar thing happens with employer brands. If a company states, for example, that it has flexible working conditions, and employees are always complaining about lack of flexibility, then odds are prospective employees will not trust the company.

If I’ve peaked your interest and you’d like to learn more about understanding and strengthening your employer brand, let us know and we’ll walk you through it.