Employer brand and employer branding – are they the same thing?

Simon Barrow, the creator of the concept, calls it “employer brand”. He states that employer brand management consists of many aspects and employer branding is one of them. According to Simon, employer branding is a fragment of employer brand management and it covers communication part only.”

Let me explain the difference between brand management and branding.

Brand management is the development and implementation of a strategy to reinforce the brand perception. A brand is as strong as its perception. So developing a brand management strategy is crucial as it enables you to influence your target markets. It involves:

  • A quality product/service
  • Value proposition
  • Research,
  • Positioning
  • Creativity,
  • Visual identity,
  • Communication,
  • Customer care
  • Consistent management and measurement

With a brand management strategy, you create brand awareness, recognition, loyalty and equity.

Branding, on the other hand, is the techniques and methods of marketing and communication that is used to influence brand perception. Oxford Dictionary defines branding as “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.”

So far we have talked about product brand, what about employer brand and branding?

Employer brand is one of the most misconceived concepts. Most of the time it is thought to be sourcing and recruitment or just recruitment marketing thus called employer branding. But that’s not the case.

Recently on a social media platform, I asked the difference between these terms and someone replied like this: “employer brand is the final product and employer branding is the process to create that product”. My reply was “no, the process to develop is called brand building (and that is also a part of brand management), and the process to manage a brand is called brand management, not branding”.

If you want to use the term employer branding, Simon Barrow describes it as the communication process of employer brand management.

Let’s analyse employer brand management.

There are two main aspects of it:

    1. Candidates (Attention, Awareness)
    2. Employees (Engagement, Performance)

Employer brand management is bigger than the total of these two.

two main attributes of employer brand management

Let me pose you a question: Can you create a brand only thru communication? Of course, not.

You definitely need more than communication.

Candidates (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)

I bet you own and are running at least three of the following:

  • Corporate career pages or portal,
  • Social media channels,
  • Digital marketing,
  • Job postings,
  • Campus events (many subs categories here),
  • Event sponsorships,
  • Webinars,
  • Online career activities,
  • Candidate management,
  • Pre-boarding
  • Onboarding

Why? All to create and attention, interest and desire for the top candidates to get action. It is not only through communication, it is through creating a reputation, by being present, bonding with your candidates, by gaining their trust.

Employees (Engagement, Retention, Performance)

Employee engagement was previously defined as emotional loyalty.

In 1991, two scientists Allen and Meyer proposed a new three-dimensional model, “affectionate commitment”, “continuance commitment” and “normative or moral commitment”. In their organisational commitment theory, Allen and Meyer discussed together attitudinal and behavioural approaches and their complementary relationships.

According to the comprehensive review of this study, it is possible to conclude that affectionate commitment / engagement develops as a result of positive work experiences and contributes to work performance.

Now I am posing you another question: Can you create positive work experience and employee engagement only with communication? The answer is an obvious no.

So, how can we create a strong employer brand?

In one of my earlier blog posts, I talked about building an employer brand strategy in 3.5 steps. This can be your starting point. I will write about the implementation stage and employee touchpoints in details soon.

In the meantime, you can download my free ebook creating an authentic employer brand here or you can join a free week session of Employer Brand Academy certificate courses here.

If you like what you’ve read, please feel free to share this post on your preferred channels.

If you have a question or have had a similar experience, please leave a comment below so that fellow employer brand professionals can learn from your experiences.

Author: Ali Ayaz
Ali Ayaz is an Employer Brand and HR Consultant with Modern Management Consulting who is well-versed in Employer Brand Development, Candidate and Employee Surveys, Recruitment and Employee Engagement. Having successfully completed Employer Brand projects with multinational blue-chip companies in Automotive, Banking, FMCG, IT, Telecom and Retail industries, he teaches employer brand management, human resources and fundamentals of management at Employer Brand Academy (online) and European School of Economics (London). He is the author of the e-book “How to Built a Robust Employer Brand Strategy” and founder of the Employer Brand Academy. He is a chartered member of CIPD - the professional body for HR and people development.


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