Employer Brand versus Customer Brand: What’s the difference?
The concept of building a customer, or consumer, brand, has been a staple of marketing for generations. Employer brand, on the other hand, is a concept that’s come along much more recently, the idea first coming into the lexicon back in the mid-1990s.
So, what’s the difference?
To a degree, customer and employer brand are two sides of the same coin. Both serve to create a positive image and identity for your business. To be a totem for your qualities and your values. A means by which you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.
However, while they may indeed share these attributes, each serves a distinct and quite different purpose to the other. Focused on entirely separate parts of the company.
Your Customer Brand
This is the overarching identity of your company. The face that’s on display to the wider world, encompassing everything relating to your business:
- Its values
- Its products and services
- The Market(s) it serves
Customer brand is the way the world identifies with your organisation. And it needs to be consistent. It needs to make your customers instantly recognise you, and make them identify with you in the same way.
Your Employer Brand
This is branding with a more specific focus. To promote the image of a company with a positive working culture; to encourage the most talented candidates to join your ranks.
The battle for the best candidates is a fiercely competitive one. Simply offering a good salary no longer cuts it as a key incentive (if it ever did), with companies required to demonstrate to the world that they're great employers, who:
- Value their workforce
- Have a positive, happy working environment
- Provide support and development opportunities
- Have ambitions that match those of their employees
With the growing influence of technology, social media, and online communications, the focus of any successful employer brand strategy hinges upon creating a sense of employee satisfaction, of positive relationship management with past employees, and of generally fostering the image of your company as a great place to work.
Customer and Employer Brand Synergy
Yes, they serve different purposes, but the reality is that customer and employer brand cannot hope to be truly successful if they are working in isolation of each other.
As the Head of Employer Branding at Glassdoor, Kirsten Davidson, recently told business2community:
“In an ideal world, a company’s employer and consumer brand should be closely aligned”
Traditional customer branding has always focused on the consumer experience, how a product or service delivers the right value to a particular individual, and how the company truly cares about delivering on customer need.
But we live in a conscientious, social media dominated world. Consumers and employees alike are more savvy in their research and if there’s a disconnect between the customer brand image, and the image of the company as a place of work, then it’s likely to send out warning signals, affecting both sales and talent acquisition.
The Bottom Line
The purpose of your customer brand is, ultimately, to increase sales of your products and services. Conversely, employer brand focuses attention on the image of your company as a place of work, to drive future recruitment targets.
Different strategies, different focus. But both serving the same overall goal. To foster growth, profit, and success.
But both need to be closely aligned, delivering consistency of message, and promoting every aspect of the company in the same positive glow. Where inherent company values permeate through the products, the services. and the culture in the workplace.
Creating a brand that consumers want to buy into, and talent will be eager to join.