HR owns employer branding.
However, it’s been made to my attention that some HR directors feel uncomfortable with the idea of owning employer branding. And that they rather hand out the ownership to pretty much whoever is willing to take it!
What seems to make employer branding uncomfortable is not the ownership itself, but what it entails.
There is a level of unclarity and uncertainty over what employer branding is.
As we know HR isn’t exactly short of responsibilities as it is. So, it doesn’t surprise me adding something unclear to an already huge load of responsibilities isn’t exactly tempting.
What do you do with something that seems unclear?
You clarify it. You lift the fog and make it simple and enthising.
So, I thought it was a perfect time for us to return to the roots of employer branding. The original definition of employer branding is likely to explain us why it makes sense for HR to own employer branding.
Why HR owns employer branding and why it actually makes sense
It’s amazing how something so current and trending was defined nearly three decades ago!
The term employer branding was defined in detail in 1996 when Simon Barrow and Tim Ambler published a paper called “The Employer Brand” in the Journal of Brand Management.
Their abstract was to test the application of brand management techniques to HR management.
Barrow and Ambler had conducted an exploratory research to study if HR practises had any relevance to branding. And indeed, they found out marketing can be applied to the employment situation.
The original definition of employer branding
This is the original definition of employer branding Simon Barrow and Tim Ambler wrote at the time.
“We define the employer brand as the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company.
The main role of the employer brand is to provide a coherent framework for management to simplify and focus priorities, increase productivity and improve recruitment, retention and commitment.
Like good marketing, this is a fundamental approach to the way people are managed, listened to and involved. It is a way of working that will last indefinitely.”
Employer branding is a framework for human resources management
The most noticeable part of employer branding for sure is the marketing and communication we do.
But it is just the tip of the employer branding ice perk.
What is there to market without a product?
In employer branding, the product seems abstract when you first think about it. Just like company culture used to be a very abstract notion.
But if you look at what Barrow and Ambler said, they talked about the package of benefits. Those benefits can be captured in the marriage of the company culture and employee experiences.
I addressed this “product” in more detail in episode 66 about the employee experiences at the core of your employer brand.
Both, the company culture and the employee experiences fall very much under the responsibilility of the HR function. The employer brand product development is what HR do.
Marketing and communication are needed in clarifying and sharing the employer brand messages, but they must understand either they work for HR or they partner up with HR.
While marketing and communication can very much help, HR must match the pitch of this ball, like Barrow and Ambler suggested in 1996.
Listen to episode 113 in the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast
This week’s episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast is dedicated to HR directors and HR managers who understand the importance of employer branding, but feel unsure of what their role in employer branding should be.
I talk through Barrow and Ambler’s definition of employer branding and what it really means. I continue with what they said about why this is an HR framework and talk about the ownership struggles we see taking place today.
In this week’s episode:
- The original definition of employer branding and what that translates into today
- Why employer branding was invented for the Human Resource community
- Employer branding beyond recruitment
In this week’s episode I mentioned a possible sparring program for HR about owning employer branding. If you listened to the episode and related with the idea, sign up on this waitlist to hear more about this possible opportunity.
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