This blog follows on from some of the research and insight discussed at the CEB Summit for HR Executives 2014, held 17 September in Chicago—specifically the session on “Creating a Culture of Leaders as Talent Scouts”.  Learn more about this annual event for senior HR executives at


More than three-quarters of organizations have launched formal employment branding initiatives in the past three years.

Most of these initiatives serve to position the organization as a great place to work by communicating universally appealing brand messages through the most popular channels.

Unfortunately, this “branding for appeal” strategy results in applicant pools that are only 28% high quality.

Applicants are exposed to a sea of promotional messages about organizations being great places to work.

Consequently, branding for appeal only adds to the unhelpful information they already have from other sources as they struggle to make the right decisions about where to apply.

To optimize branding investments in today’s environment, take a “brand for influence” approach by providing applicants trusted guidance to make better decisions about whether to apply.

The pay-off is significant, with a 54% improvement in applicant quality.

     We’ve identified three critical steps to brand for influence:

  1. Rather than orient employment branding messages around the company’s core brand, orient them instead around sub-brands that are typically more customized and relevant for specific talent pools.
  2. Go beyond delivering messages that sell (e.g., “See our career opportunities,” “Be challenged every day,” and “Our culture is very collaborative”) to delivering messages that consult (e.g., Check out this company that I didn’t know hires for…,” “Your work helps achieve our mission by…,” and “Given your interests, I think the right job for you will be…”).
  3. Let messengers drive your outreach strategy to high-quality applicants, not channels.  Messengers like recruiters, senior leaders, new hires, hiring managers, former employees, and industry experts have more than twice the impact on the quality of the applicant pool compared to that of channels (e.g., careers website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, career fairs, recruiting collateral).


Visit to download a complimentary executive summary of our research on branding for influence.