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A white ladder placed against a light blue wall that is leading up to a window that is a giant orange circle. The abstract image feels aspirational, like the idea of a positive employer brand image that employees and companies strive for

Employer Branding vs. Employee Branding: Definition, Differences & Examples

TJ Kiely

May 31, 2021

From an employee perspective, every company has two sides to its brand. There’s the side created by the employer, which is intentionally created by the company to retain talent, attract job seekers, and be seen as a great place to work. And then there’s the internal side, the one formed by the employees that experience your business in a different way than your customers. Together, these two sides can be summed up as employer branding and employee branding.

These two types of branding look and function very differently. However, they’re both equally important to the success of your company. Because of their shared role in shaping your company’s overall reputation, no business can afford to leave either type of branding to chance.

Here’s a comparison between employer branding and employee branding and how you can leverage both in your brand strategy.

Table of Contents:

What Is Employer Branding?

Picture this: your company and another company are at a job fair interviewing potential candidates. Your company is a local household name. The one next to you is relatively small and unknown. There’s a long line at your recruitment table and lots of candidates seem to want to work for you. The company next to you is having a hard time getting candidates to apply. In this case, this could be because you have a stronger employer brand than your competitor.

Using this example, an employer branding definition can be summarized as the reputation an employer creates in the labor market. It’s the image you want an applicant and current employees to associate with you.

A man and a woman standing in front of a wall with several posters on them. The pair could be at a job fair discussing the brand reputation of each prospective employer.

Your employment branding is something you can influence. For example, if you want to highlight the value you offer to employees, you can show off your workplace via social media marketing, ask for reviews on a career site like Glassdoor, or spice up your Careers page on your company website with content specifically geared toward your ideal candidate persona.

What Is Employee Branding?

Just like your current employees are an extension of your corporate brand, they can also influence a good employer brand. Therefore, a good employee branding definition is the brand perception created by employees and potential employees about your company as a workplace.

For example, employees who are quick to talk about their employer to family members or friends are contributing to your employee brand. Employees might write reviews on job-seeking sites about your company without your knowledge, touting the company as a great or terrible place to work.

The workplace experience you create for your employees helps to shape the employee brand. For example, if you offer great benefits, plenty of time off, and opportunities for advancement, the employees who value those things are likely to generate a positive employee brand.

A group of four men playing ping pong in an office during a break. This is the type of in-office experience that can positively contribute to the employee brand.

Whether you like it or not, your employees will talk about your company and management. Their opinions shape the employee brand. If you want this brand to be seen in a positive light, you’ll need to intentionally and proactively invest in employee branding.

What's the Difference between Employer and Employee Branding?

Employer branding and employee branding have a bit of overlap, but a few distinct differences set them apart.

While company leaders can influence both brands, they’re ultimately created by different audiences. Your employer brand is largely driven by company leaders and HR. It’s the persona you want job seekers, stakeholders, and the community to associate with your company when it comes to offering a place to work.

To achieve this persona, you might infuse your company values in your job marketing, talk about your workplace values, and highlight what you can offer employees (e.g., benefits, perks, advancement opportunities, etc.). You might talk about company culture and give candidates and the community a sense of what it’s like to work for you.

Employee branding works a little differently. Employers influence this brand through the internal communications and experience they provide to employees. But ultimately, it’s up to the employees to craft this brand.

Employee branding is the things they tell people about what it’s like to work for you. It’s whether they get other people excited to apply to your company. It’s whether they’re willing to go the extra mile for your company vs doing the minimal work required.

Being proactive in shaping the employee brand is imperative. Over half of respondents in the 2019 Mind the Workplace report said they would not recommend their workplace to others. Actions carry a lot more weight than words, so if your company culture and employee morale don’t align with your employer branding, your employee branding will reflect this.

Why Employer Branding Matters

Employer branding benefits make branding worthwhile, especially in tight job markets and talent shortages.

For starters, a strong employer brand can help you attract top-tier candidates and retain quality talent. Research shows that 95% of candidates care about a company’s reputation when vetting job opportunities.

When your company is seen as a great place to work, candidates will choose to apply at your company over one that might not have as much to offer. As with any business, people are your number one asset. The right ones will help your business grow and thrive.

An example of how an employee's excitement around joining a particular company can help portray the brand in a positive light, as well as how a company can facilitate such posts by providing branded social imagery.

In addition, good employer branding can help you minimize recruiting efforts. When people see you as a place they want to work, you can rely less on job postings, agencies, and extensive searches to keep your talent pool full. In turn, this can help you minimize hiring and recruiting costs, fill positions faster, and mitigate losses associated with vacancies.

And speaking of cost savings, your employer brand can reduce turnover rates by 28% and cut the cost-per-hire in half. Happier employees are more engaged employees, which can also contribute to higher productivity and a better customer experience.

Last but not least, when employer branding and employee branding align, your employees become advocates for your company. This can affect everything from attracting and retaining the best talent to growing your reputation in the community, and even contributing to the brand you present to your customers and prospects.

Employer Branding Examples

Zappos is one of the best employer branding examples done right. The company is well-known for its superior customer service that goes the extra mile, and it extends that reputation to attracting and retaining staff. Outsiders can follow along on Twitter and Instagram via the @Zapposculture and #insidezappos handles to get a feel for what it’s like to work there. These channels offer authentic insights into a day in the life of a Zappos employee.

Google has garnered a reputation for having one of the best employee work/life balances. The company heavily invests in its culture, ensuring employees have time to work on projects that mean something to them and will benefit the company, too.

General Electric is another company that’s not afraid to build its employer brand on social media. Its funny YouTube video series, What’s the Matter with Owen?, follows a young engineer who can’t explain to others what it is he does. The series was designed to highlight one of America’s oldest companies as a leader in industry and the digital space.

P.S. CEOs getting active on social media also doubles as employer branding examples. As the face of the company, CEOs are able to share their visions for the company, set the tone for the company’s culture, and give prospects a sense of what it’s like to work there.

Employer Branding Strategy: Where to Start

While every organization will develop an employer brand with or without your help, it’s beneficial to create an employer branding strategy that shapes the image you want. Knowing where to start with employer branding can help you prioritize the right actions and activities to make a positive impact.

Here are some tips to ignite your employer branding strategy:

Get Your Employees Active on LinkedIn

Competing for talent is starting to look a lot like competing for customers. Recruitment teams can learn a lot from marketing when it comes to employer branding and appealing to potential job seekers. One place to focus your employer branding strategy is LinkedIn, the professional’s network.

According to LinkedIn data, 55 job applications are submitted via the network every second. Job seekers are using the network to learn more about companies, what they do, and what it’s like to work there.

What’s more, 6 in 10 LinkedIn users are actively looking for industry insights on the network. This gives you a unique opportunity to expand your content marketing to your employer branding strategy. Encourage your employees to create and share industry-related content on their LinkedIn feeds to support your employer brand and expand your reach.

Build an Employer Brand on Social Media

Content marketing for employment branding isn’t limited to LinkedIn. Whatever social networks you’re on to establish your company brand, you can also create a separate profile that focuses on your employer brand. On these channels, you can share behind-the-scenes looks at your company, day-in-the-life videos, job openings and hiring events, and employee spotlights.

You can also turn your happy employees into brand advocates on social media. Create content that highlights them in the workplace. Get them excited about your accomplishments as a company so they’ll know they’re working for a great company. Engaging them in your social branding efforts can make them want to share your content with their audience – or better yet, help you create content!

Consider the Candidate Experience

Your job postings, application process, and interview process all contribute to your employer brand. Think about it: this might be the first few contacts job candidates have with your company. The more difficult it is for them to apply, the less favorably it reflects on you as an employer.

More than 90% of job seekers are using their mobile devices to search for jobs online, and many want the ability to apply on the spot. This underscores the fact that the average 3-4 hours spent filling out a single job application needs to be drastically reduced, especially since recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing each application.

To improve the job seeker experience, companies can place themselves behind the application wheel and walk in their candidates’ shoes. Look for inefficiencies that can deter candidates from completing applications. The best candidates have more opportunities and may be less likely to jump through too many hurdles during the application process.

Build an Employer Ambassador Program

There’s no doubt about it: employee referrals can result in some of the best hires. Referrals account for just 7% of applications but fill 40% of all hires. They can also help you fill positions faster and less expensively.

Build an employee brand ambassador program to encourage your employees to bring talented candidates on board. Employees who are willing to recommend their company to others support your brand and set the tone for a positive work experience.

For help crafting your employer brand on social media, fill out the following form and reach out to Meltwater today!