We started with more simple brands that every individual encounter. As communicators, however, we often deal with some others as well. No matter what kind of industry or company we work with, it is necessary to harmonize three brands: corporate, consumer and employer brand. What’s the difference? How do they intertwine?
The corporate brand serves to describe the organization as a whole. Its goal is to create a consistent image of the company through the interaction of corporate strategy, business activities and brand stylistics. So if we want to change the corporate brand, we must first change the strategy. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single-brand company (e.g., Apple) or a multi-brand company (e.g., Unilever). A corporate brand addresses all target groups. The company’s internal brand embodies a set of values and assumes an orientation function for employees. Because of their strong identification with brand values and brand-compliant actions, brand ambassadors are important to communicate the company idea to potential and existing customers. The corporate brand creates added value for frequently interchangeable products.
The group of external stakeholders is significantly more differentiated. The corporate brand communicates at B2B and at the political level: with suppliers, the financial economy, the media or even with non-governmental organizations.
While corporate brands are associated with companies, consumer brands refer to products and services. Consumer brands can be in a B2C (business-to-consumer) relationship, such as Coca-Cola, Dove or Pampers, to B2B (business-to-business) relationship, such as Accenture, Oracle or SAP, or they can combine both a B2B and B2C relationship, with some of the most important being Microsoft, Google and LinkedIn. If we want to position our consumer brand, we need to know the brand essence, the values, the character of the brand and the dominant archetype of your brand.
The employer brand is subordinate to the company’s corporate brand. While your audience for your consumer brand is the people who buy your product, the audience of your employer brand are your employees (both current and future). Your company is likely to employ a much wider range of people than those who buy your product. In fact, they may not even be among the target audience for your product or service. Not everyone who works for a children’s brand has a child, not everyone who works for a medical device company uses that medical device.
The audience of your employer brand is probably also much smaller than your consumer brand. A food brand can sell millions of food packages a year, but it can only employ thousands of people and hire only hundreds of people a year. Your employees just need to believe in your product and mission, not necessarily use it.