Employer Branding and Consumer Branding.
2 terms that are nothing new—they’ve been around, they’re loyal buzzwords to the marketing world, but there’s one problem: Many companies are not aligning the two. And it’s time to look at both of them through a different lens—the same lens to be exact.
Before we go any further, take a look at what each of these terms mean:
Employer Brand = how a company is perceived as a place to work to existing and potential employees. This influences whether someone will apply for a job and the company’s ability to retain current employees.
Consumer Brand= how a perceived from an outsider’s perspective, like customers.
Though these two branding perspectives are different, it’s important that they are closely aligned.
The typical way of business is focusing on customer satisfaction, the customer experience, making sure all their needs are met so they keep coming back to invest in your services or products. And this is good!
But what about the employee experience? The people who work hard to provide that incredible customer experience? You do want to keep those people, right?
Big Question: Why is it so important to keep consumer and employer branding close-knit?
An effective consumer/corporate branding strategy can no doubt enhance talent acquisition efforts. If you’re obsessed with how great the NBA can put on an All-Star pre-game show and how they presented each decade of basketball so creatively—you could think ‘Wow that would be so cool to work there so I can do that!’
But what happens when you get the job, and then you find out working for the NBA actually sucks? It’s miserable. It’s not nearly as cool and exciting as their consumer brand tricked you into thinking.
Don’t assume just because one identifies with a “cool” brand that it’s also a great place to work.
This leads me to my next point—Employees have the power to control the perception your brand.
If they aren’t happy, you better believe people are going to hear about. Whether it’s via word of mouth to family and friends, an anonymous review on Glassdoor, or rants on social media about how much work is a drag—the employee experience is going to get out.
When a consumer sees a disconnect between a company’s “cool” brand and the truth behind what it’s like actually working there, problems happen. And think about all the consumers who are also potential candidates (because they think your branding is “sooo cool”!) Think about what’s going to happen if they catch wind of how terrible working for you actually is—because if that info is out there, it’s going to be found one way or another. Especially these days.
The research varies, but It takes about 5-9 positive comments to offset 1 negative one. It’s hard to rebuild a tarnished image as negativity is a powerful force to be reckoned with.
How can a company ensure its employer brand is aligned with its consumer brand?
Start thinking about the employee experience. And yes, this also means your current employees.
What are you doing to take care of your people who are already with you?
Think about your brand values—how are you rewarding your people who live and breathe those values.
Say one of the values you promote is being a “Connector”—someone who brings passion, street smarts, and networking together. How do you feed into this value? Offer up the opportunity for these connectors in your company to attend conferences, local networking events, etc. What would be the value for you as the company in doing that? First, those employees would say they are attending on behalf of “X Company Name”—and people will probably ask more about the company. The employee could learn new skills or information they can bring back to their job. And the employee who values connecting would think it’s so fun they can do this and will tell their friends and family “hey, look what I get to do! My company is sending me to the Adobe conference!”—instant brand cool points.
How can you deliver your consumer brand experience internally?
The first time a candidate walks through your doors is a magic moment—what are you doing to make it special?
It is crucial for employees to be excited about their company—it’s infectious. It has an impact on candidates. It creates buzz about your brand.
Turn your employees into brand advocates.
Here’s an example of a company who is going a good job at aligning their consumer brand with their employer brand:
Whole Foods has built their brand based on the notion of “whole foods, whole people, whole planet,” and this model empowers the company’s 62,000 employees and plays a huge role in the organization’s success. John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods talked about Whole Foods’ Total Health Immersion Program, an internal initiative whereby employees with health-related issues receive intensive health and wellness education geared toward sustaining positive lifestyle changes.
With great passion, Mackey underscored the power of purpose and values and a conscious culture: it energizes and engages employees, promotes creativity and innovation, and helps businesses achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. (source)
So here are your words to live by when thinking about branding: MAXIMIZE WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT.