Who Owns Employer Branding?

July 22, 2022

Ask the average HR manager where employer branding falls. Chances are, they’ll tell you that all talent attraction and retention activities are an HR function. 

In reality, different branding responsibilities fall under different teams. Think about your own strategy: Your HR team might be responsible for the candidate experience, while marketing leverages internal data to create a candidate persona for your branding efforts. And even if you don’t realize it, your CEO probably sways potential candidates’ perception of your company, too.

Employer branding isn’t as black and white as you might think. We’ve seen countless organizations struggle with whether to position employer branding ownership within HR, communications, or marketing.

So, who owns employer branding?



What Is Employer Branding?

Before we dive into strategy, let’s start with the definition. Your employer brand is an essential component of your employer value proposition. It’s how your organization communicates its identity to potential candidates and existing employees.

Just like your consumer brand, your employer brand highlights your organization’s mission statement, core values, and personality. A strong employer brand leaves a positive impression on your prospects, showing them why your organization is a great place to work. Meanwhile, a weak employer brand can act like marketing kryptonite, driving up your cost per hire and employee churn rate.

Your employer brand affects your recruitment marketing efforts, employee retention rates, and engagement levels. Not only that, but it can also influence consumers’ perception of your organization.



The Current State of Employer Branding

Believe it or not, there’s no single team responsible for crafting an employer brand. According to a survey by Universum, 60 percent of CEOs believe that CEOs are primarily responsible for employer branding. Meanwhile, marketing managers were torn between HR (38.8%) and CEOs (40%)—and over half of all HR, talent management, and recruiting respondents reported that employer branding falls under the HR umbrella.

Why is your employer brand so important?

It’s simple: Your employer brand and recruitment marketing strategy are intertwined. Before applying for a job, a whopping 86 percent of employees and job seekers research a company’s reviews and ratings. 

According to Glassdoor, 50 percent of candidates wouldn’t work for a company with a negative reputation—even for a pay increase. At the same time, a strong employer brand can reduce your cost per hire by as much as 50 percent.

The importance of employer branding doesn’t end there. It impacts every step of the recruitment process: onboarding, engagement, productivity, communications, company culture, retention, and even marketing. Few positions come with the same power as employer branding. Even fewer impact the employee life cycle from awareness to alumnus.



How to Build a Cross-Team Branding Strategy

Every level of your organization plays a role in employer branding. That’s right: Collaboration is a key ingredient to your organization’s reputation as an employer. And if you silo your branding efforts, you risk fragmenting your entire brand.

Ready to win at recruitment marketing? Crafting the perfect branding strategy will take some trial and error, and it’ll look different for every organization. Here’s how to amplify your marketing efforts with the power of cross-team collaboration.


1. Strategize Your Branding Goals

Before you move forward with any cross-team efforts, you need to know your company’s objectives. Your goals will determine exactly where specific branding responsibilities will go. Once you’ve identified your goals, you can create an organizational structure for your strategy. 

How can you set goals for branding? First, paint a clear picture of what employer branding really means for your organization. Use the following questions to guide your recruitment team in the right direction:

  • What goals are we trying to reach by strengthening our employer brand?
  • Does the employer brand affect the entire employee life cycle or just recruitment?
  • Is the employer brand responsible for talent acquisition, marketing, and/or engagement? Which teams currently have responsibility for these functions?
  • How do our employer brand and employer brand line up? 
  • How does our consumer brand affect prospective candidates’ perception of our organization?

For the average organization, the #1 goal of employer branding is talent acquisition. If that’s the case for your company, HR should be in the driver’s seat. 

What if your employer brand includes internal communications? In that case, communications should guide your branding strategy to success. And if your company wants to align all employer branding initiatives with consumer branding, marketing is the clear choice. At the end of the day, finding the right home for employer branding is all about pinpointing your objectives and defining what branding success looks like for your company.


2. Allocate Employer Branding Responsibilities

No matter who owns employer branding, your brand manager needs to collaborate across the entire organization. They need to cultivate cross-team relationships with:

  • C-suite executives by highlighting the value of employer branding on your organization’s bottom line.
  • Human resources by upgrading the hiring process, identifying recruitment goals, and defining the organization’s employer value proposition.
  • Marketing by aligning employer branding efforts with consumer branding, creating a candidate persona, and using data to further the employer branding strategy.
  • Communications by keeping employees engaged, improving communication strategies, and promoting employee recognition programs.
  • IT by improving the careers website, implementing new recruitment technology, and optimizing the candidate experience for mobile devices.

No matter what your branding strategy looks like, consistency is your secret weapon to building credibility with existing employees and potential candidates. Employer branding decisions aren’t always easy, but you need a unified front behind the brand.


3. Check Out Your Competitors’ Employer Brand

You need to take a different approach to employer branding to win the war for talent—and that means keeping tabs on your competitors’ branding strategies. How are your biggest competitors attracting and retaining top trade talent? What does their branding strategy look like?

Answering these questions is easier than you might think. You just need to put yourself in your candidate’s shoes and research the competition.

Here’s a quick guide to help you determine how your employer brand stacks up to the competition.

  • Check out your main competitor’s social media pages and website. Take note of their tone of voice (TOV), messaging, and target audience.
  • Look at their careers page and read their job descriptions. Do the employer TOV and consumer TOV line up? What’s their employer value proposition?
  • Search for your main competitor on Glassdoor. What are their employees saying about their experience?
  • Analyze your findings. Does it seem like a great place to work? How do you perceive them as an employer? Is their branding strategy consistent?

Repeat the same steps for your own organization. Then, think about how prospective candidates perceive your company as an employer. You might be surprised by the results.

To take it a step further, download our self-audit checklist to reflect on your recruitment strategy from a cross-team perspective. Take a look at what’s working, what’s not, and what impact gradual changes can make on your recruitment marketing efforts. 

Even if you’re just getting started with employer branding, performing an audit can help you identify potential areas of improvement. Then, you can allocate responsibilities to the right team to carve your path toward branding success.



Build a Solid Cross-Team Foundation

With countless organizations fighting for top trade talent, you need a unified front to beat the talent shortage and fill your talent pipeline with top-notch candidates

It’s not enough to check your Glassdoor reviews and hope for the best. You need to tap into the power of cross-team collaboration to upgrade your branding strategy.

Struggling to find the right home for your employer brand? Leave the heavy lifting to us. At Main Street Recruitment, we get to know the ins and outs of your company’s unique recruitment needs and challenges to build a strategy that works for you. Set up a discovery call with our team to amplify your employer brand with a solid cross-team foundation.


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