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World Employer Branding Day – what does Employer Branding mean to you?

It’s World Employer Branding Day they said; ‘gis us a blog.

So, ever the compliant employee, I sat down and looked through the agenda. I made a few stabs at provocative intros – where you just disagree with a business concept on principle. Or cast it as the exact opposite to make a point. I thought about a pithy blog which looks at the tensions inherent in these occasions where creative agencies and HR service providers try to get in front of the people who could commission them. But none of that felt right. And I was still floating in a sea of ‘what’s my point of view on World Employer Branding Day!?’.

So, I had another look at the agenda. At World Employer Branding Day, speakers are covering everything from recruitment, candidate journeys, talent pipelines, onboarding, employer reputation, diversity and inclusion, storytelling, engagement, innovative cultures – it’s a really cracking agenda. But it’s not Employer Branding. At least – not in the ‘attracting people to work for your organisation’ sense of the ‘Employer Branding’ term.

And I think that is my point of view. For too long, Employer Branding means attraction and recruitment. As one definition I found online puts it: “The process of promoting a company, or an organisation, as the employer of choice to a desired target group. One which a company needs and wants to attract, recruit and retain.” And that is far too narrow, in my opinion.

The CIPD talk about Employer Brand as “connecting organisational values, HR strategy and policies, and links to the organisation’s brand”. Building on this – and the point of it all – your Employer Brand shapes your employee experience. This equips your employees to deliver the experience your brand on the outside promises to your customers. Such a mouthful.

This handy visual helps:

The Team creative brand and communications agency. Brand Experience Chart


When I am asked what I do, I tend to the cringe-worthy response “I help people have a better time at work”, because somehow that feels like an easier conversation than unpicking ‘employee engagement consultant’.

And there it is, that confusion again. I started off talking Employer Brand, and before you know it – we are into employee engagement territory. Which is it?

Well, it’s both – and more. Your Employer Brand is simply your brand on the inside.

  • the Employer brand framework which is “the words on a page”. More about that here – although the headline on this bothers me, because our SEO agency changed it to get more hits (!). I learnt about employee experience from Sandra at First Direct, not employer branding.
  • the experience for employees – which is where the “words on a page” start to mean something for employees, and this is across any point in an employee’s time with the organisation (examples of that for Avanade and Sony ).
  • the communications – (examples of that for Heathrow and RBS).

Often, that employee experience element is the bit that feels hard. It’s far easier to create some lovely campaigns and films. And they make lots of noise as well. But, when we get it right, the employee experience makes the most impact. The experience your people have at work, is your Employer Brand.

We can’t communicate to people how we are an innovative place to work; we need to be innovative. And to be innovative, we need to have the culture, collaboration tools, permissions, decision making and rewards in place to support innovation. Get that experience right and then when we come to communicate ‘what it’s like to work here’ or ‘what we expect of our people’ – we can talk with credibility.

For too long ‘Employer Brand’ has been synonymous with recruitment marketing; how you sell your organisation as a place to work to people looking for somewhere to work. And this is symptomatic of how too many organisations view their brand on the inside, where Employer Brand is simply about getting people through the door; building a picture of the inside to encourage people to apply.

But the far bigger prize is an Employer Brand which goes far beyond recruitment and delivers an employer brand experience. Think bigger when you think Employer Brand, because the results are in the employee experience, not simply the communications.

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