Brand Synthesis: Aligning Employer, Talent, and Corporate Brand for Maximum Effect

Earlier this week, we covered the difference between employer brand versus talent brand and corporate brand. 

Here’s the short and sweet of it: 

  • Employer Brand: The image a company projects to attract and retain talent, encompassing the company’s values, work culture, and reputation in the job market.
  • Talent Brand: The highly social, totally public version of your employer brand that incorporates what talent thinks, feels, and shares about your company as a place to work.
  • Corporate Brand: A company’s image or identity and how it presents itself to key stakeholders. It encompasses brand logo, values, tone, messaging, purpose, offering, target audience, and market differentiation and is heavily informed by a company’s employer and talent brands. 

    “If you’re a toy manufacturer,” explained this week’s guest on America Back to Work and employer branding expert, Marcus Body, “Your target audience might be an eight-year-old child, but that’s probably not who you hire. Suddenly, you must talk about different things under your employer [and talent] brands.” 

    Defining Your Audience and Repeating the Message

    According to Body, who has worked on more than 100 employer branding projects, the first step to aligning your employer brand with your talent brand and corporate brand for maximum effect is to get clear on how they differ—to sort out the unique distinctions between each. 

    “Why should people want to work for you rather than anyone else? I think one of the first things you have to think about is who do we want to work for us? Have we got a very good definition of that?” he explained in the interview. 

    Once each audience is defined, companies can work to hone the messaging for each segment of communications based on where that audience operates. 

    Your employer brand will probably live on your careers site, job descriptions, job ads, and social media channels since that’s what prospective employees will see. 

    The talent brand will likely live more on your social media channels, on company review sites, on internal communication networks, and within your community IRL since that’s where talent—past and present—operates.

    The corporate brand will live on the “About” section of your website, in company collateral and presentations, in customer case studies and testimonials, and on your social channels since that’s where customers and other key stakeholders will go. 

    The key to getting these three brand levels to work together is to segment each audience and reach them at the right time—over and over and over again with the same tailored message. 

    “I think the key to all branding is consistency and repetition,” said Body. “If every time I meet with you, I tell you I’m a bold, competent person, eventually you’ll start to associate the words bold and confident with me. And it’s the same with you as an employer.”

    Leading with Talent Brand to Attract Top Talent 

    Your talent brand is an “earned” image; it comes from providing employees and candidates with an experience they connect with and get value from and then pulling from that organic, positive experience when telling the story of who you are as a company. 

    Most employer and corporate brands, however, are more of a projection of what a company wants to be—an idealized version of its current reality. 

    This is where many companies get it wrong; they lead with their employer brand or corporate brand to attract the kind of talent they want (talent that will push them in the direction of becoming that idealized version) rather than building an employer brand off of the positive, authentic realities of their current culture. 

    And, candidates and employees alike notice that incongruity. For example, if you share via your employer brand that you are a “highly flexible” place to work (because you think that’s what top talent wants to hear), but in reality, require employees to work in-person five days a week with limited PTO or work-from-home options. Employees are going to notice and talk about it. 

    They might share their discontent via Glassdoor reviews, social media, or word of mouth, ultimately affecting your overall reputation and making it harder for you to attract the candidates you want in your talent pipeline. This apparent dissonance will also negatively affect retention because employees will eventually realize they are not getting what they signed up for. 

    How to Align Your Talent Brand with Your Employer and Corporate Brand 

    Instead, companies should lead with their talent brand to build a compelling employer and, ultimately, corporate brand. 

    Not only will this help you create a more authentic-feeling employer and corporate brand with more powerful storytelling based on actual social proof, but it will also help improve key talent metrics, such as retention when candidates realize they are getting exactly what they signed up for!  

    Building a quality talent brand forces you to take a closer look at what your top, ideal talent wants—to take stock of what’s working and what’s not when it comes to human capital management—so that you can move in a direction that organically improves your reputation and image. 

    To do this work, you can conduct employee surveys (i.e., eNPS) or manager interviews to figure out what employees love about your company and what’s missing for them. 

    You can even take a closer look at company data, such as participation and productivity numbers around specific company programs. 

    For example, suppose you have high participation numbers in employee resource groups that set and reach DEI goals regularly. In that case, that’s a key feature of your talent brand to highlight in your employer brand—and even to ladder up to your corporate brand since today’s customers care about the diversity of your organization

    If, through this internal assessment, you find areas where your company is lacking, like low employee satisfaction with professional development opportunities, then that’s a clear signal to leave learning and development out of your employer brand—and a clear signal to work on your mentorship and training programs to improve your talent brand. 

    Aligning your talent brand with your employer and corporate brands to attract the right employees is all about honesty—becoming more honest with yourself about who your talent is, what they want, and how you’re serving them. 

    When aligned, however, a strong talent, employer, and corporate brand combined can help you streamline the hiring process to attract the right candidates, increase retention, and turn employees into company advocates. 

    For more practical insights into aligning your employer, talent, and corporate brand to improve recruiting, hiring, and retention outcomes, check out this week’s episode of America Back to Work with Marcus Body. 

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