WEDNESDAY 24 JUN 2020 3:05 PM


In an increasingly digitalised world, the the lines between the corporate and employer brand have blurred, meaning that the brand experience presented to consumers must reflect the one presented to employees. Lorna Addicott, head of creative at employer branding and marketing agency ThirtyThree, explores the benefits of treating both consumers and candidates as brand advocates can bring to businesses.

In a world where choice has never been better and responsibilities never greater, aligning your corporate and employer brand is increasingly important in growing a successful business.

Before the advent of employer branding in the 90’s, recruitment was fairly straight forward – place a job ad, screen applicants, hold interviews and negotiate an offer. Opportunities for businesses to build their reputation as employers were limited to publications, events and literal word of mouth. 

Then came the introduction of the internet, and with it, job boards, career sites and eventually, social media. Businesses soon realised they needed to work harder to stand out and attract talent, and the idea of the ‘employer brand’ began to take-off. 

Despite becoming wise to the power of brand awareness, businesses treated customers and candidates as two different audiences. Customers were fed a brand developed by marketing teams wielding big budgets, while marketing to candidates was done by HR, often at a fraction of the cost. 

Customers were busy falling in love with exciting campaigns while candidates were afterthoughts, marketed rewards and benefits. Nowhere are the results of this approach more evident than in the early 00’s at McDonald's. In 2003, the Justin Timberlake ‘I’m lovin’ it’ campaign was fast gaining traction and helping to build a cool brand personality. At the same time ‘McJobs’ was a (literal) definition for “unstimulating, low-paid jobs with few prospects”.

A decade on and the integration of digital technology into our everyday lives has completely transformed the way we consume. In a world of brand-overload it’s no surprise that we’ve begun to shape our own personal brands and that what we choose has become a declaration of who we are. We’re no longer interested in buying products, instead we carefully select brands that are aligned to our values, and that we feel represent us (or the ‘us’ we want to be).

The result is a blurring of the lines between consumer and candidate. When we believe in a brand, we use it to define ourselves, and by doing that we stop being just customers and start becoming advocates. In the same way, candidates are making careful choices to only work for brands they believe in. And when they believe in those brands, candidates begin to advocate for them too. With both audiences using brands to signpost their decisions, businesses must develop their brand – their personality – around the values they believe in and their purpose. 

And businesses need to ensure their purpose and values are ingrained across all touchpoints, because  it’s not enough to just attract candidates anymore. Businesses need advocates, people that are genuinely engaged and motivated to deliver the purpose, to help create an authentic, consistent brand experience.

This strategy is core to the work we’ve been doing with our parent company Capita. Over the last two years we’ve been working with them to define their purpose, values and behaviours aligning 60,000+ employees, across multiple business sectors around the world. Following the launch and embedding of our new purpose – “we create better outcomes we needed to reflect this transformation in the Capita branding for  bothcustomers and candidates. To do this we’ve been working alongside branding agency Landor, and as they’ve been developing Capita’s corporate brand, we’ve been working to ensure that we’re presenting a consistent brand to employees and candidates for their entire experience.

As we’ve done with Capita, we should no longer treat employer branding as an afterthought, if we want to build successful purpose-driven businesses. Instead, it must be integral to the business strategy and delivered in partnership with HR, marketing and comms. Working together in this way we can provide a consistent experience and build trusted brands that attract loyal followers, regardless of whether they are working for you, or buying your products.