Dr. Florian Heinemann is a Founding Partner of Project A. Prior to his current role, he was a Managing Director at Rocket Internet. At Rocket, he was instrumental in building Zalando, Global Fashion Group, and eDarling/ Affinitas.
Isn’t employer branding, corporate branding, product branding, in the end, all the same?
An employer brand and a consumer-facing brand do not necessarily have to be the same, but they shouldn’t contradict but rather support each other. There might be things that could be totally irrelevant for the consumer but on the other hand, might be highly relevant for the (potential) employee. I would say the consumer-facing brand comes first and is kind of the ‘Northstar’ of a company branding hierarchy because without successful consumer positioning there might not be a successful company.
But shouldn’t employer branding be this kind of ‘Northstar’ in the company because the employees are the ones who are working hard to create the right consumer positioning?
I am not saying that employer branding is less important but I believe that employer branding derives, lends, and adds elements to consumer-facing branding. If a company has an unfavorable employer brand, it might have an impact on its consumer-facing brands and vice versa.
When it comes to measuring the impact of employer branding, what can employer branding learn from performance marketing?
Quality of branding and the quality of messaging is a moderating factor of campaign success. In performance marketing, you do ad campaigns and measure the outcomes of each campaign, for example, in recruiting it could be how many candidates you generated. You will figure out if the branding you execute is fitting the needs/demands of the target group because the conversation rate will go up. Or simply put:
The more you invest in the right messaging, the higher your ROI will be.
Moreover, if you have great employer branding you will have more people getting into the recruiting funnel and staying in the recruiting funnel from start until the end of the recruiting process. That is what I mean with moderating factor. Employer branding can increase the ROI by adding additional value to the classical candidate-focused recruiting marketing.
Why do you think employer branding can have an impact on the candidates while they are in the recruiting process?
There are two sources of branding, one is communication-based branding and the other one experienced-based branding, which is dealing with the user experience you provide. In recruiting, I think communication-based branding helps you to get the candidates in the funnel, but the experience-based branding actually helps you to keep them in the funnel, make them engaged, and really willing to work for you. The touchpoints candidates have during the whole process should be aligned with the overall employer branding.
Would you advise companies to have a core positioning (employer brand) or a targeted positioning for each key talent group?
It’s more a hierarchy. You should have a common core positioning across all key talent groups and then you can have a hierarchy of more specific positionings. I think having no common ground is not good, having a common ground with department specifications is perfect. It’s the same way when you do personalization in user experience, you always have a common level of experience and based on that you give segmented elements that are unique for certain target groups and there you have the same kind of logic of features.
What would be the number one advice you would give to companies who want to kick-start employer branding?
If you want to jump-start employer branding, the social media channels are great. When it comes to the more strategic work behind the actual communication, it should be ideally a bottom-up process — similar to a vision building process. Everyone from the company needs to be involved because, in the end, it will be employees who have to stand behind the company’s employer brand in order to make it a success.