What is the difference between an employer image and an employer brand?

Often times, these different forms of HR marketing can get us confused. Employer image and employer brand are two different forms of HR marketing. And both of them get mixed also with recruitment marketing, the third and the most popular form of HR marketing.

What is the difference between employer image and employer branding?

To summarize:

  • Employer image is how your wider audience sees you and thinks of you. These views are based on anything they ever experienced by you, heard from you or heard about you. Having an employer image is simply about having an audience – or some audience – who has heard about your company in the context of employment. However, employer image is not enough to become chosen by your ideal talent audiences.
  • Employer brand is about having a unique market position as an employer. Your audience is able to describe how you differ from their other options. And these descriptions often contain feelings. Employer branding is about building emotional connections with your ideal talent audiences. When your audience has feelings for you, they will prefer you, speak for you, promote you and choose you.

Employer image

Employer image is best described today as: A company that exists in the eyes of the audience.

Think a pin on a map representing all interesting employers in this city, in this industry or employing people in my profession.

When a talent hears the name of the company, they remember having heard about it. Or when they see the company logo on a job board, they recognize it.

A familiar company on the long list of job opportunities might trigger the active job seeker to start with this job ad before moving onto others.

Employer image is often based on personal and hear-say experiences

Often times, what we think about a company as a workplace is based on our personal interpretations and experiences as well as what other people have interpreted to us based on their experiences and what they have heard. You can see how an “image” is about your company’s reputation. And that reputation is totally based on a wide range of personal experiences.

Employer image lacks the emotional connection brands gain

When the audience is merely aware of the company, the company is often times just a business among many other businesses. A talent cannot probably mention any particular reason to favor this company over any other company.

Look below at the image I drew about the Candidate Journey of the Information Era.

Talents who are already aware of your company stand at the beginning of their candidate journey with you. This point is called Awareness.

Talents who have never heard of you or paid attention to you are not yet on this journey with you. To get them on this journey requires winning first their attention.

The problem is, this is the information era. We are being bombarded by messages every nano second of our time. Instead of welcoming a whole lot of new messages, we are focusing on blocking most of them. Hence, the person with noise canceling head phones and their back towards us.

Winning attention is the most difficult task marketeers and communicators face today. We must be extremely relevant to get a little bit of attention. And we must court the audience in order to keep winning their attention until they are ready top hop on the actual candidate journey with us.

If you do have an audience who are paying attention to you, tap yourselves on the back! Awareness is a great place to be, but it is merely a first step, a start. Unfortunately in the war of talent, awareness is not enough to help your business. You need an employer brand that differentiates you from your competition and gives your ideal talents enough reasons to choose you.

Employer branding

When an organization has an employer brand, the organization has positioned themselves as the employer of choice to their ideal talent audiences.

A position means, the company stands out from the competition in the eyes of the targeted audience.

This I feel, most HR marketers forget or maybe just ignore due to lack of knowledge.

An employer brand becomes really valuable only when the target audience is able to describe, without hesitance, how this company is different from the other similar.

An employer brand becomes really valuable only when the target audience is able to describe, without hesitance, how this company is different from the other similar.

The more there are competition, the more employers are required to clarify their message (this simple way to put it I learned from StoryBrand, by the way), and position themselves in the eyes of those talent audiences they need for the execution of their business strategy.

The benefits of a distinctive employer brand

An organization with a recognizable, distinctive employer brand is likely to do a great job in resonating to those audiences they want see as their job applicants and employees one day in the future.

Remember, employer branding is a long game. Employer branding extends your audience from active job seekers to the talents you need over the next few years.

Employer branding is not recruiting. If you need to hire today, you focus on recruiting with a short term objective. Your audience will be those talents who are currently looking for a new job.

Your employer brand must answer how your company as a place of work, as an employer and as a community of other employees will make your ideal talent’s life better.

It’s no longer about the you as the employer. It’s about the talent. Your ideal talent. Not any talent, but those talents your business needs in order to succeed. The modern employer brand is extremely talent centric.

The greatest benefits of a distinctive, modern employer brand are:

  • Relevant talent audiences are aware of the company and recognize the organization among other similar businesses making the top of the funnel wide.
  • Ideal talent audiences are able to emotionally connect with the organization as a place of work. This is where the brand is built.
  • The organization gains a follower base who regularly engage with them, advocate them and part of it eventually turns into customers and candidates.
  • The bigger the follower base, the more likely this organization is to receive regularly recruitment and customer leads resulting in more efficient and faster hiring and sales processes.
  • The risk of making hiring mistakes lowers significantly the better the ideal audience knows about the company.
  • In my experience, it is also significantly faster to get new comers into productive work lowering the time and costs spent on tutoring.

If your company is a growth company and your business has experienced difficulties in finding and hiring enough talents, I strongly recommend you to consider employer branding.

If you want to learn more about the modern employer branding method I have created, you’ve come to the right place.

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