A Five-Step Guide to Improving Your Employer Brand

Burnish your brand to meet the challenge of talent acquisition by taking some cues from consumer branding.

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Carolyn Geason-Beissel/MIT SMR

A consistent priority issue for boards of directors and CEOs is the acquisition and retention of talent. In a 2023 Manpower study of more than 30,000 employers in 41 countries, 75% of employers indicated that they were struggling to acquire the talent they needed. Many companies view the hiring process as the need to search for and find the right person — it is about “acquiring talent,” after all. But talent acquisition involves more than matching the right person to the right role. It also involves positioning your company as the best choice among the employers you are competing against — which highlights the importance of developing an employer brand that candidates believe will fulfill their needs and aspirations better than any other option in the marketplace.

Employer branding, or the perceptions held by internal and external constituents regarding the attractiveness of working for a company, is similar to that of consumer branding — but without the equivalent depth of interest and research. Although companies invest significant resources developing consumer brands, few focus as rigorously or commit the resources required to develop their employer brand, even though attracting talent is a top priority for CEOs. Employer branding requires a more extensive value proposition and communication plan than many traditional, lower-involvement consumer brand efforts. That is why some of the professional services and B2B companies that might not have reputations as strong general marketing firms (such as EY, Deloitte, and Siemens) are rated as having strong employer brands. In other words, organizations that are perceived to have an exceptional consumer brand-building capability are not necessarily perceived as having developed the same level of employer brand-building capability (and vice versa): Excellence on one side does not necessarily translate to excellence on the other.

The emphasis in employer branding has been on selling the company — essentially, presenting it in the best possible light. However, this element should be near the end of a multistep process. Importantly, for companies that are used to a “30-second engagement” model of consumer branding, employer branding can be daunting because it requires a candidate journey that may take weeks or potentially months of engagement, and an employee journey lasting many years.


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Comment (1)
Stuart Roehrl
One of my favorite articles this season.
Stuart Roehrl