The Lines Between Consumer and Employment Branding Are Blurring

As the talent field has made the shift in its employer-brand focus from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have,” there’s another significant trend that’s reshaping the way high-performing companies are communicating their mission, culture, and career opportunities.

It’s called talent branding.

Your talent brand is 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.

Think of talent branding as employer branding 2.0. No longer owned solely by recruitment advertising agencies or even human resources, talent branding is moving into the spotlight and sharing the stage with other branding, advertising, and marketing players and tactics employed by the savviest chief marketing officers. And they are applying the same rigor to the talent-brand development process as they do with any other high-stakes marketing efforts.

And, depending on the title on your business card, you may consider that a blessing or a curse.

It wasn’t simpler in the past, just more segregated.

Back in the proverbial day, consumers went to stores and job seekers went to the classifieds or the job boards. But in a digital world everyone is everything and goes everywhere. We are bombarded by content and channels and swayed by predictive technology, and seemingly unlimited options.

Consumer buying decisions are being shaped by brands they trust, brands who do good inside and out, and brands they believe in. And most organizations are in the midst of a cultural transformation as they try and align their business and functions around these higher expectations from both customers and potential employees.

Today’s candidates are a sophisticated breed of discretionary consumers of what you’re selling — career opportunities. And their opinions of who to buy from (work for) are shaped by a variety of influences such as peer-to-peer ratings, word-of-mouth, and the desire to make a difference — and not just within a company but to the world itself.

Consider this example of Google’s recent efforts.

First — its 2019 SuperBowl advertisement at an estimated cost of $10 million, a budget any talent-acquisition professional would be proud to spend. If you click on the link google.com/grow/veterans, you’ll see how Google’s efforts are designed to help military transition into corporate America, including Google.

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You can also see from a recent blog post the effect that this has on the people working at Google.

As a talent-acquisition professional, you may bemoan these new complexities where brand guidelines are adhered to, marketing departments are in your sandbox, and words matter. But on the other side of that coin sits a wonderful opportunity to participate in truly meaningful activities that deliver results both you and the company can be proud of.

Where Talent Branding Fits

All marketing efforts, including recruitment marketing, should be informed by your organization’s mission, vision, and values. Feel free to swap out any or all of those words with purpose, promise, true north, guiding principles, or something else geared to your business.

Your talent brand will fall directly below that and will shape perceptions of your organization as an employer of choice.

For Google it’s about creating, designing, coding, and building, for everyone. Part of that is the commitment to transitioning military.

Your consumer brand which will shape perceptions of your products and services. The consumer/job seeker journey is fairly similar: they move through the funnel from awareness, consideration, and preference to purchase and brand ambassadorship.

And all recruitment marketing materials, whether they live on your social sites, your career site, your intranet, or on a t-shirt you get at a hiring event, should remind viewers of the value you bring to the superstars who have chosen to bring talents to your business. And, they may even remind customers of the value you bring to them.

Jody Ordioni is the author of “The Talent Brand.” In her role as Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Brandemix, she leads the firm in creating brand-aligned talent communications that connect employees to cultures, companies, and business goals. She engages with HR professionals and corporate teams on how to build and promote talent brands, and implement best-practice talent acquisition and engagement strategies across all media and platforms. She has been named a "recruitment thought leader to follow" and her mission is to integrate marketing, human resources, internal communications, and social media to foster a seamless brand experience through the employee lifecycle.

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