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If you thought Employer Branding & Talent Branding were one and the same, think again!

Everything is brandable. Words, practices, people. Everything. Social media and sector crossbreeding has penned many a new industry term, and it’s this refinement of recruitment practices and communication that has given us more food for thought and ways to action our messages.

Employer branding is one such term that has become commonplace in the Marketing 101 scripture in the last decade. The personalisation of recruitment messaging and the role of employees in company branding has spread like wildfire over the last ten years. And with new attitudes come new sub-categories, relevance and practices.

It’s easy to get lost in a wave of industry jargon and sector swapping; definitions become blurred and hybrids have popped up here, there and everywhere. One such blurring has occurred between the mutually valid, but very different, employer branding and talent branding.

Employer Branding: Hello candidates, come work for us

Employer branding is a well-covered term in the HR and recruitment world. Simply put, it’s about marketing your company as a progressive, active and employee-centred employer. “Know what makes your company a good employer choice, and communicate that to candidates.” It may sound simple enough, but as with all practices, the real impact comes from across the board commitment; consistency and complete company involvement that includes all employees and all departments.

Many see employer branding and its talent-based sibling as one in the same. Both centre on talent attraction, communication and recruitment. It’s a tough world out there; talent gets snapped up swiftly, so companies need to look to new means of reaching the best folk, baggin’ the right talent and keeping them happy. Employer branding can be very effective in grabbing the attention of candidates, beefing out corporate identity and hinting at the deeper opportunities employees are privy to.

But more than anything, employer branding prioritises communication.

Whether it’s feedback via Facebook, blog posts written by employees or job ads on Twitter, it’s all about constant contact and a consistent identity that instills trust and excitement in potential candidates.

Branding can be applicable to all sectors, organisations and departments. Most think of marketing first, and this has been the downfall of many who have embarked on a branding mission. Yes, branding is key to marketing, but this reliance on one department’s duty fails to recognise that branding is about how you communicate as much as what you communicate.

Talent Branding: Hello candidates, here’s what it’s like to work with us

Perhaps one of the best ways to explain talent branding is to call it “The Experience Branding”.

It’s all about how the positivity of every candidate experience associated with the company contributes to the appeal and reputation of the organisation as a whole.

There are similarities between talent branding and its employer branding counterpart - the potential for employees to make their mark on a company being a main one. But talent branding is as much about retention as acquisition. Show candidates how their talent is utilised, developed and valued. Don’t just say, show them. Yes, they may be supported as an employee, but what about as a talent?

This is where the Talent Value Proposition (TVP) comes in. Not only is your talent brand a direct result of this, but it’s central to your business strategy. In short, your TVP, or EVP, is the unique appeal of working for you. What makes you different and why do you have the happiest, longest retained employees? This combination of employer and talent-focused values helps candidates confirm their choices. It’s your offer to your potential employees, so it must be rooted in practice, exciting to communicate and above all, genuine.

Employer and talent branding can work in perfect harmony together. As with all successful strategies, it’s a case of researching, planning, timing and consistency. There’s no point introducing and communicating an employer brand if you don’t have the goods to back it up. If you start professing to be the best company to work for - flexible in working attitudes, diverse and inclusive, social media-friendly - and you don’t deliver, then not only will you lose employees, but you will gain a hard-to-shake negative reputation.

Getting candidates through the door is one thing. Keeping them is another. And maybe this is the best way to cement the difference between talent and employer branding.

Talent branding communicates the ‘goods’ that back it up. The practices, experiences and true value that makes a company the best option. As mentioned above, it’s not just about what you say but how you say it. The role of social media, employee blog posts or testimonials have a huge part to play in this. Talent should talk to talent, employees should communicate with potential candidates directly and the best companies are the ones that facilitate this unselfishly and with total trust.

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Talent should talk to talent, employees should communicate with potential candidates directly and the best companies are the ones that facilitate this unselfishly and with total trust.