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Talent Brand
6 min

6 tips for creating distinctive talent & employer brands

by Ryan Schulz September 9, 2019

When we hear the word brand, most of us think of an outward-facing customer story–how a firm represents itself in the market (who it is, what it does, what kind of quality it provides, its reputation for trustworthiness, etc.) and how customers experience and see the business. Equally important are your talent and employer brands. Oftentimes, these are defined by your people – what they think, feel and share about your organization. It’s pretty significant. Especially when you consider how your employees’ perception and influence can help or hurt recruiting efforts. For professional services organizations who rely on high performers, having strong, clearly defined employer and talent brands is vital.

What’s the difference between an “employer” and “talent” brand?

The focus of an Employer brand is on articulating the unique value delivered to existing and potential employees with an emphasis on the benefits of working at the business. It’s mostly concerned with employee satisfaction and meeting basic, “tangible” needs. Talent brand is a highly social, totally public version of your employer brand that focuses more on employee engagement. This is where you get into the more “intangible” needs and aim to provide benefits that make employees feel fulfilled. Being mindful of how the two interact and reinforce one another, and how they align with or contribute to your company brand, is a critical part of building a strong PSO brand portfolio.


How do I establish attractive employer and talent brands?

Great employer and talent brands come from the bottom up. In other words, they’re cultivated by employees – rather than imposed upon by the organization’s leadership. Here are six tips for fostering distinctive employer and talent brands that help attract and retain key talent:


1). Find your essence

Your talent brand should be unique, but also authentic. According to Talent Brand Alliance, a talent brand is “the honest story of life as an employee inside your organization.” By really focusing on what matters to employees and what they value, you’ll crystalize what attributes are an inherent and important part of your internal brand. Companies who don’t put in the effort will end up with overused talent brands like, “We’re fun.” Or “Our people come first.” It’s also really important to maintain a balance between fostering an environment that is attractive to your current employees and being a bit aspirational and strategic about creating one that will pique the interest of future hires as well.


2). Create brand synergy

While the employer and talent brands are unique, they’re part of the brand family. Think of them as sons or daughters of the main brand. They share the same values. They’re just motivated by different things. The higher goal is to make sure every aspect of your brand feels connected to an authentic company story.


3). Bring marketing and HR together

Talent branding is really the intersection of marketing and recruiting. However, in most organizations, marketing “owns” branding and HR “owns” recruiting. Instead, these two departments should be collaborating together from the get-go, starting with a clearly defined talent brand strategy.


4). Consider the employee journey

Just as you’d plot a customer’s journey, map out the job search and onboarding process. Look at every touchpoint your potential employees have with your organization, from recruiters to your website and intranet, and make sure each one consistently reinforces your talent and employer brand stories.


5). Leverage digital

Today, most of a candidate’s job search is spent online. It’s not enough to just have a Careers page on your website. Companies are using technology in innovative ways, from apps to augmented and virtual reality functionality, to deepen engagement and help potential hires see how they may fit into the company. Consider the UX as well. If it’s not easy to navigate or to find the necessary information such as perks and benefits, candidates will move on. And remember that the “sale” isn’t over once they accept the position. Using digital to make onboarding, learning and development, and knowledge management efforts easier will keep employees engaged instead of frustrated or overwhelmed – which means they’ll be less likely to look for a better experience at another firm.


6). Ensure perceptions remain aligned with intentions

As mentioned before, your employer and talent brands are driven by your people and their thoughts, feelings and journeys. It’s inevitable that there will be times when what you intend to deliver and what they actually experience or expect as employees no longer aligns. It’s important to recognize this and course correct as soon as possible. Keep a pulse on what’s important to current and potential employees, and find a way to measure how much of that you’re able to deliver on a consistent basis. Like most strategy, what you establish today will not necessarily work wonders tomorrow. Commit to evolving with your people – or better yet, empowering them to evolve and grow in their careers.


Learning from others

Attracting and retaining great talent in today’s competitive market is a struggle for most companies, including many of our professional services clients. In an effort to learn how other organizations are overcoming challenges, we surveyed and analyzed over 30 leading firms within Legal, Consulting and Accounting. Check out some of the fascinating insights we discovered.


If you’re interested in exploring how your firm can develop employer and talent brands that are distinctive and complementary to your main brand, let’s connect.

Ryan Schulz
Managing Director, Chief Executive

Managing Director, Chief Executive at One North, Ryan is responsible for helping to shape and grow design solutions for clients. He works across practices to develop programs and capabilities that help clients fall in love with the future.

Key Takeaways
  1. Your talent brand should be unique, but also authentic.
  2. Create brand synergy: ensure every aspect of your brand feels connected to an authentic company story.
  3. Because talent branding is at the intersection of marketing and recruiting, these two departments closely collaborate.
  4. Map out and consider the entire employee journey, from recruitment to onboarding.
  5. A Careers page is table stakes. Leverage emerging technology to entice and engage talent.
  6. Keep a pulse on what’s important to current and potential employees, and find a way to measure how much of that you’re able to deliver on a consistent basis.