Research Library Article


The State of Employer Branding

David Earle

The first of four survey reports from 2300+ senior corporate executives concerning the ownership of employer branding, stakeholder cooperation, branding objectives, brand strength, budgets and paths forward.

Over the past decade, employer branding — meaning corporate branding specifically designed to attract and retain the most talented and productive employees — has moved from the wings to center stage. Almost all senior executives, both inside and outside of HR, are at least aware of its importance, and most companies either have some sort of program in place or under consideration. But within this general consensus there is considerable dissonance concerning responsibilities, objectives and budgets.


Relationship between consumer brand and employer brand


Everyone feels they ought to own at least a piece of corporate branding. Claimants include corporate communications, PR, marketing, HR, country and regional managers, functional heads, CEOs, and even Boards of Directors. Given branding’s historical segmentation by audience all these claims have precedents. Programs for external audiences have been mostly assigned to corporate relations (investors and lenders), marketing and sales (customers), and public relations (the general public and the press). If a company is international, or operates in more than one area of business, each geography or division may manage these communications with considerable autonomy.

HR’s traditional claim to branding, to the extent it had one, involved communicating with a company’s internal audience – its employees. Until recently, there was little formal consideration of any external audience. But technology has so altered today’s labor force dynamics that branding programs specifically targeted externally at future employees, as well as internally at the substantial portion of the workforce that is open to competitive offers, have become increasingly important.

This set of reports examines the problems HR faces in sharing branding responsibilities with enterprise stakeholders, which often begin with those stakeholders, often including the CEO,  believing, rightly in many cases,  that HR has little branding or marketing expertise. Dispelling that belief and earning the right to participate in corporate branding programs is one of HR’s most significant 21st century challenges.

Integrated corporate branding, including a robust component developed in partnership with HR, is no longer optional. Companies that fail to grasp this are de facto underdogs in the competition for today’s top talent.


  • Who’s responsible?
  • Stakeholder cooperation
  • Employer branding objectives
  • Employer branding budgets
  • A unified brand
  • How do organizations move forward
  • Where to learn more

Additional Reading
Employer Branding Worldwide
How Branding Influences Staffing

Universum also maintains a robust branding insights library  


Research Source
Title 2020 Outlook:
The Future of Employer Branding


Date 2016
Pages 19
Cost Free
URL Link