HR Branding – Observations From a Marketing Perspective

The recruitment advertising division of a Long Island advertising agency recently completed a survey of human resources managers from a Fortune 500 corporation based in New York. The sample included senior and mid-level human resources managers worldwide, and centered on determining a baseline for future development of the client’s HR brand. One of the first questions we asked in the survey was, “How knowledgeable do you feel you are with regard to the related subjects of Human Resources Branding and Employer Branding?” Surprisingly, just 13% of the respondents indicated that they were “very knowledgeable” about the subjects, and 45% expressed that they had either limited awareness or no knowledge at all. That very knowledgeable 13%, by the way, were all based outside of the United States.

Considering how much has been published on the subject of HR Branding, we had anticipated much broader awareness to exist among experienced, high-level respondents. Indeed, the current literature offers many excellent articles on the value and the process of establishing an HR/Employer Brand. We wondered if, perhaps, the broad scope and technical nature of this subject matter limits its accessibility for many HR professionals-in essence relegating pertinent articles to the “I’ll read it when I have more time” category.

Coming from a marketing background, I thought it might prove helpful to provide a few basic observations on the subject of HR branding…along with some practical tips and cautions…all in the interest of making the concepts more accessible and seem less theoretical.

You have a brand already. A brand isn’t something you decide to get, it’s something you have whether you like it or not-literally. Internally, employees at every level have their perceptions of the HR department. Externally, potential new hires have perceptions regarding your company as a potential employer. If you fail to plan and cultivate your brand it will still continue to develop without you…and you may not be comfortable with the result.

A journey starts at the beginning, not the end. It’s always tempting to decide how you want your brand to be perceived and begin trying to communicate that to internal and/or external audiences immediately. Where you really need to start is with the brand you have today. Do some research to determine how employees and managers view your department, and the image your company has among prospective new hires. This will let you know where you stand, determine how far you have to go, and let you develop a practical plan for getting there.

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