Employer Brand and Consumer Brand. Why should there be a difference?

Consumer Brand & Employer Brand: Why is there a difference?

Forgive my ignorance, but it was only until a few weeks ago that I really became interested in “Employer Branding”. In fact, my interest was sparked by a feature article in the Sydney Morning Herald on “the war for talent”.

I rushed to Wikipedia to discover the complete history of Employer Branding. It came as somewhat of a relief to learn that the notion of Employer Branding is a fairly recent phenomena.

‘Employer brand denotes an organisation’s reputation as an employer.[1]The term was first used in the early 1990s, and has since become widely adopted by the global management community.[2][3][4] Minchington (2005) defines employer brand as “the image of your organisation as a ‘great place to work'”. Employer branding is concerned with enhancing your company’s employer brand.[2]

Just as a customer brand proposition is used to define a product or service offer, an employee value proposition is used to define an organisation’s employment offer. Likewise the marketing disciplines associated with branding and brand management have been increasingly applied by the human resources and talent management community to attract, engage and retain talented candidates and employees, in the same way that marketing applies such tools to attracting and retaining clients, customers and consumers.’

I respect the reputation and track record of those strategists who have built successful careers in developing and nurturing Employer Brands. However, I question why there should be any difference between the values of the Employer Brand and that of the organisation’s Consumer Brand or Corporate Brand for that matter.

Assuming that trust, integrity and inspiration, to mention a few, are values shared by the world’s most successful and enduring brands, why should it be different whether we are dealing with human or brand assets?

Are there companies out there with greatly admired consumer brand(s) but who show little regard for their own people? If there is such imbalance between what consumers respect about the company (through their brand relationship) and the employee engagement, surely that is not a sustainable business strategy?

My career has been across manufacturing and service categories, yet without exception my prior perception of those companies as brands was pretty much confirmed through my work experiences.

By way of example, I had a very long 12 months with an advertising agency known for “safe and boring work”. I naively joined after accepting the Employer Brand proposition that we are no longer boring but rather committed to great, inspiring ideas. It never happened.

More reading:

7 steps to creating employee brand ambassadors using social media
Are brands still judged by the company they keep?
The dawn of the ‘contsumer’: are you prepared?
Organisational change and the importance of your employer brand
Brand positioning: More sameness = less potential
How to leverage employer brands to attract top talent
Is HR just another marketing department?
Employee disengagement – and the remedy
What is so special about your brand?
Brand loyalty: Are marketers facing a sad reality?


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