Employer Brand Management as a discipline

Many companies now have Employer Brand Managers but few so far have recognised that they are just as important as Product Brand Managers. Furthermore in both cases, it is a mistake to limit the Brand Manager role to research and communications. The Employer, just like the Product, Brand Manager must have regard for the whole employee/consumer experience. The Brand Manager may not have responsibility for all those decisions but they should understand and communicate internally the employee/consumer’s point of view.

The EBM is often positioned at the ‘recruitment marketing’ end of the HR spectrum and focused on messaging and promotional ideas to get it across. The role aims to make the best of what the organisation offers rather than to change it for the better.

The EBM needs to have the same broad role as the Product Brand Manager. At Colgate, my time was spent on customer and trade research, product (and margin) improvement, winning trade support, R&D, competitive analysis and ensuring that plant, sales and distribution gave the right priority to my brands. In addition the job meant massive time preparing and presenting plans for review with European and New York management. That included the CEO who expected a Product Brand Manager to know more about his/her brand than anyone else on earth. That was why the job had great influence but little power.. Of course, responsibility for advertising and media was included but that was relatively easy, compared to the hard issues of coherent product management and winning support from knowledgeable and demanding bosses.

While the Product Brand Manager aspires to general management, research I did with Employer Brand Managers in 2012 indicated that their sights are set much lower. I can understand why because getting change to the employment experience is hard pounding and political. Line and functional management have to respect an influential change agent. CEOs need to recognise this and achieve the benefits that bringing the best of brand management to people at work can deliver.

Employer Brand Managers need the same qualities as outstanding Product Brand Managers – a holistic approach, great relationships beyond HR and Internal comms and the confidence to speak the truth to power!