Employment branding is pointless without perspective

by Keith Seiz

15 January, 2016

For the last 10 years, I’ve spent a good portion of my professional life building brands. Employment brands, to be specific. It’s our core business at The Arland Group, and a niche segment of the branding space that I love. 

But, it’s not without its challenges. Chief among them is a misunderstanding by corporate marketing departments about the role an employment brand plays in the overall framework of a corporate brand. My philosophy of the relationship between the two:

An employment brand defers to a corporate brand, but also has its own unique personality. Why? Because its audience has a completely unique perspective.

Why people buy a product or service from a company is not the same reason as to why they would apply for a job at that same company. Each of these audiences has its own persona, wants and needs. They need to be spoken and marketed from different perspectives.

Take Apple for example and its website, www.apple.com. It’s all about product and features. The copy is short and direct, often using one word descriptors (Light. Heavyweight) as their value proposition for specific products. The imagery is stark, always positioned on a white background.

Now head over to their career website, www.apple.com/jobs. Same logo, fonts and colors, but their approach to employment branding is completely different. They don’t sell people on a career with the company by using value propositions such as “Salary. Fun.” They are telling a story, which requires a more conceptual approach with fully-formed value propositions and warm pictures.

They get that the perspective of a job candidate is different than one for their customers.

When I build an employment brand, my main goal is to compel a job seeker to take action. In most cases, that action is to apply for a job. But I can’t hit that goal if a corporate marketing department takes a rigid stance on branding requirements, especially when it comes to perspective. My audience is not your audience.

Unfortunately, it’s a tough battle to win. In the hierarchy of corporations, marketing almost always sits above talent acquisition and human resources. So, I’m forced to compromise, which is never the easy thing for a creative agency.

But it’s the New Year, so I’m extending an olive branch to all my corporate marketing colleagues. I’ll give you your fonts, colors, style and usage requirements. But you have to give me my perspective, and understand that I can’t always use your imagery, tone and archetype.