How to Create a Visual Employer Brand Identity with Impact

By Richard Mosley

Both what you say and how you say it (your body language) are important factors in making a strong positive impression on people. In employer branding, think of your visual brand identity as the body language of your brand. Use the corporate brand identity described in your EVP as the starting point for any decisions relating to how you present your employer brand from a visual perspective.

In most leading companies, corporate brand identity guidelines are designed to cover every form of brand communication, but you may find that your existing brand guidelines are more limited. Ideally, your corporate brand identity guidelines should contain guidance for the following visual elements:

  • Company logo(s): These guidelines generally cover how and where the company logo is presented within typical digital and print communication formats, including web pages, advertising, brochures, and presentations.
  • Design elements: Guidelines for design elements cover graphics other than the logo, such as background texture, line style, white space, and color blocks, that must be consistent in order to reinforce brand recognition.
  • Color palette and fonts: These guidelines establish the range of colors and fonts suitable for brand communication.
  • Photography: These guidelines may specify a range of acceptable images to be used when communicating the brand or more loosely define a recommended style of photography (with illustrative on-brand and off-brand examples).

The corporate brand guidelines should provide a general set of parameters for your employer brand identity, but it’s common practice to adapt the “look and feel” deployed in recruitment marketing and employee communication to the specific needs and preferences of the target audience. This practice tends to follow a regular pattern in the following respects:

  • Corporate branding tends to favor a relative narrow, muted, and conservative range of colors (more generally suited to investors). Employer branding tends to be more effective where a broader, richer, more expressive range of colors is deployed, because it generally suggests a more welcoming, personal (less corporate), and diverse working environment.
  • Corporate branding tends to favor relatively formal design schemes (expressing solidity), whereas the design elements deployed by successful employer brands tend to feature more vibrant and flowing design elements (expressing human energy and creativity).
  • Corporate and customer branding often put greater emphasis on presenting the product and other more tangible manifestations of the company, such as buildings. Employer branding tends to be more effective where it places much greater emphasis on images of people.

In practice, this approach generally results in a separate set of employer brand guidelines carefully balancing alignment with the overall corporate and customer brand guidelines, but also adapted to the more human context of employment.

Pay close attention to the “look and feel” of your talent competitors’ employer brand, so you can consciously choose colors, visual design elements, and photographic styles that clearly help people recognize your brand and differentiate your company from others within the same industry or talent pool. If you’re employing a creative agency, be sure an analysis of your talent competitors’ branding is incorporated in the creative brief and ask the agency to demonstrate how its creative solutions help you to stand out from the crowd.

After establishing your visual brand identity, apply it consistently across all your digital career domains, so that prospective candidates clicking between one domain and another, as they commonly do, immediately recognize the overall integrity and unique flavor of the brand.