Employer Branding: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Employer Branding: What It Is and Why It’s Important

When people think of your workplace, what do they think of? When your employees meet with friends after work, what sort of things do they say about their employer? If someone in the community was asked what they know about your business, how would they describe it?  Questions like these are at the heart of “employer branding”. This is a concept that can help revolutionize how you recruit new employees and win over the right talent. If your organization, especially recruiters, haven’t thought much about employer branding, this can be a powerful tool to reimagine how your business advertises for positions and interacts with employees. Here’s what you should know. Diverse team in a meeting with a woman presenting a solar panel project.

What is Employer Branding?

You typically come across “branding” concepts on the marketing side of an organization, where people work to make a business easily recognizable, memorable, and associated with certain values.  A brand is made of many parts, but it comes down to reputation: What is a company known for? Part of that brand is made up of logos, advertisements, and products – but part of it is also made of people, and how the company treats people. Employer branding specifically refers to the reputation that an organization has among its employees and potential employees. For example, when a potential applicant is looking at job listings online and they come across a position with your organization’s name and logo attached to it, what do they think? If an employee brand is poor, job-searchers may immediately pass on a position even if they are a good fit. They may have heard bad things about how the company treats its employees or remembered decisions the company has made that they disagree with. But if an employer brand is strong, job-searchers associate the position with a place they would like to work, and they will be even more eager to apply, 

Why is Employer Branding Important?

The concept of an employer brand can sound a little nebulous, but it can have a significant impact on recruiting over time. If a company has a poor reputation among employees, then the most talented recruits will actively avoid it.  That means the company is already filtering out the best talent before even beginning to look for new hires – and it often leads to their competitors getting that top talent instead. This effect can be much stronger than some employers realize. A CR Magazine and Cielo Talent survey once found that 67% of American males wouldn’t join a company with a bad reputation, and that number soars to 86% of American females, indicating that a poor reputation can also impact gender diversity.  A 2017 study from MRI Network found that 40% of millennials believe that market reputation has the most influence on their impression of an employer. The same survey found that while 71% of recruiters thought their market was candidate driven, 53% of millennials said it was employer driven instead.  Additionally, employer brands are more obvious than ever before. Job listing sites frequently have ratings and reviews for any employer that has an account on the site, so applicants can immediately see their collective score, or start reading reviews. (While these online reviews can be problematic in regard to bias, they’re still an important factor to consider.) Most companies have a social media presence today, too, so prospective employees can easily visit their social page and review past posts to get an idea of what a company is like.

Employer Branding Examples

You may be thinking: “Branding is a marketing exercise, and HR recruiters don’t have much control over it, so what options do we have?”  The concept of employer branding shows that marketing certainly needs to be aware of how a brand affects recruiting and make decisions with that in mind. But there are also many practices that recruiters can use to help manage an employer brand, and even improve it. Here are some examples from businesses that put a lot of effort into their employer brand.  Paypal: Paypal is an outspoken supporter of gender equality and women workers. As you can see in our linked example, they frequently post about events like International Women’s Day, donate to causes that support women in business, and post about these efforts on its social media accounts.  This is something potential recruits will quickly see when they look up Paypal’s social accounts or news. Wayfair: Wayfair won a 2022 award as one of the Top Workplaces in the USA, and as you can see in the link, they quickly posted the news to their social media accounts, and linked to their career page for those interested in finding open positions.  While your business may not be eligible for a Top Workplaces award, it’s important to publicize any sort of community award or recognition that you receive so that recruits can easily find it – and current employees can learn about it, too. GE: In 2016, GE launched a recruitment campaign to help find talented engineers for some of its latest projects. This ad project was aimed directly at potential recruits with humorous ads that made it clear GE wasn’t just a company for mechanical engineers, but rather all kinds of digital and industrial talent. 

Employer Branding vs. Employee Branding

You may have also heard about a common term called employee branding, and it’s important to understand the difference between these two concepts. Employer branding is focused on how a company positions itself as a recruiter, and what it does to attract new employees. Employee branding, on the other hand, is the image of the company that the employees themselves create.  This could be what they tell their friends about the company – like stories about how a manager stole their tips, or how a boss came in to cover them when they were too busy – or it could be the reviews they give online or on social media. Employee branding tends to spread on its own, and can also affect new employees or recruits who listen to employee opinions. Employer and employee branding have significant overlap. Employee branding is an extension of employer branding, and is influenced by the choices that the employer makes. If employees are boasting about their company or recommending it to friends looking for jobs, that’s a sign that employer branding is working well.  Organizations can also encourage positive employee branding directly by asking employees to leave reviews or talk to talented friends about open positions. On the other hand, poor employee branding can be a sign that a company has reputation problems that it needs to work on, so it can function as a weathervane when problems arise.  Now, let’s take a look at some ways employer branding can give your organization an advantage.

The Benefits of Employer Branding

  • Making it easier to attract top talent: The most talented applicants will apply at businesses they want to work for. A great reputation as an employer is one of the best ways to attract that top talent and get the best applications for the position. Poor employee branding has the opposite effect, which makes it even more important to consider branding strategies.
  • Saving on recruiting costs and effort: A strong employer brand will draw in applicants, and increase competition among recruits who want a positive, well-reputed workplace. That means that recruiters don’t have to work as hard to find top talent, and don’t have to spend as much on advertising jobs. 
  • Improving workplace morale and productivity: Employers can easily improve their brand by ensuring employees are happy, have the options they want, and are well-compensated. That has many effects beyond reputation: It also helps reduce sick days, increase productivity, and leads to a more innovative, loyal workforce with better retention. 
  • Attracting new and returning customers: Customers care about employer branding too. A certain amount of a company’s reputation as an employer will inevitably slip into the broader brand and affect how everyone sees the company. A strong employer brand is more likely to bring in new customers and business partners, yielding new opportunities for growth.
  • Reducing liability risks: A good employer brand leads to better employee experiences, and less negativity. This can reduce the risk of altercations, lawsuits against the company, and other problems that an organization with a poor reputation may be more likely to face.
  • Recruiting employees as company ambassadors: Employees that are pleased with the company act as goodwill ambassadors via their own employee branding and word of mouth. That’s organic representation that’s hard to find elsewhere, which can quickly spread through a community. 

Employer Branding in Recruitment

Where do you get started with a concept like employer branding? Acknowledging it and incorporating it into current recruiting strategies is an excellent start.  Awareness of employer branding can lead to better decisions and can often utilize practices your company is already doing. Here are a few tips on implementing employer branding awareness in recruiting: 

  • Find out where you are. What is your current employer brand like? What is your reputation in the community? Recruiters have many sources of information about this, including online reviews and ratings from past employees, exit interviews, anonymous employee surveys, and more. Create a clear profile of the current brand, and it can serve as a starting place for what you want to improve.
  • Tap into your specialties. Companies shouldn’t try to be everything to every employee. Instead, play to your strengths. Take the things you do well, and amplify them in your recruitment materials. That could be a fun workplace, flexible schedules, great compensation packages, a special connection to the community – whatever those employee-friendly specialties are, use them to build your brand. 
  • Align with marketing. Marketing can help significantly when it comes to employer branding. Recruiting should work together with this department so they send the same message. Marketing should be able to share content that recruiters can use, and recruiters can give marketing ideas about how to highlight employee-friendly aspects of the business.
  • Don’t be afraid to change. Working on your employer branding may uncover negative views of the company, how it acts, how much it pays, and other issues. The good news is that these are easy targets for improving your brand’s image: You now know what to target to make a difference, but the organization must be willing to change for it to work. 
  • Get your name out there. Give recruits more and more chances to see your company’s logo. Sponsor local sports games, set up booths at community events, take out ads in popular publications. Be present in what’s happening, and your visibility will greatly improve.


Employer branding is essential when improving recruitment and creating content for job postings. Think about using it to re-contextualize hiring efforts, and it can lead to many new ideas for improvement. If you’d like to dive deeper into ways to improve or expand human resources efforts, you can find helpful HR courses and guides at KnowledgeCity.  KnowledgeCity specializes in accessible training that you can watch from anywhere. Our courses are designed in consumable packages that won’t require too much time in your busy day. It’s an excellent resource to pick up new skills and team ideas, as well as tracking your own growth. Take a look and see what subjects you’d like to learn more about.

Previous Post
Next Post
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join 80,000+ Fellow HR Professionals. Get expert recruiting and training tips straight
to your inbox, and become a better HR manager.

Select which topics to subscribe to: