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I have a talentcrush on Carl-Christoph Fellinger: “An employer brand needs to catch the attractivity of roles and cultures”

If you drop the term “employer branding” people will reply “Carl-Christoph Fellinger”. He is the employer branding dinosaur (but an agile one), leading all global employer branding efforts at Beiersdorf the skin care company producing NIVEA, Labello, Eucerin. Christoph has an exciting observation of what corporates and startups can learn from each other when it comes to employer branding.

What is successful employer branding for you?

Employer Branding is successful if you have a coherent answer to the candidate question „Why should I work with you?“. In all communication, whether it is your Recruitment Marketing channels or your employee‘s answers to friends and acquaintances. When it‘s authentic it also will be effective.

Do you think there is a difference between HR Marketing and Employer Branding? Why?

Most definitely: Employer Branding — as the word „branding“ implies — is the very essence and positioning of yourself as an employer. HR Marketing is the promotion of yourself as an employer. Good HR Marketing is built upon a defined Employer Brand, yet — and that might sound odd — you still can do good and successful HR Marketing, filling jobs, without a defined Employer Brand.


Most Employer Brands try to find the ONE phrase, the ONE definition valid for all aspects relevant to employees and for all areas of the business. And there it stops! Achieved by long workshop hours, incorporating all stakeholders, creating universal buy-in. The lowest common denominator, seldom really relevant for job seekers, mostly shallow and not differentiating.

“In reality, the attractivity of employers consists of the attractivity of their roles, the cultures (yes, plural! Acknowledge that these may vary) in the business areas/teams and their leadership culture.”

An Employer Brand needs to catch all of this AND put it into a simple definition AND into a distinctive break down for all relevant job areas. With covering all of these aspects it is a good and true Employer Brand. And one of the most difficult things to achieve in Talent Acquisition.

What matters more though is a convincing communication to get your jobs filled. People choose jobs — not companies. Therefore insights into what makes jobs/teams attractive to your target group trumps your employer brand. Not saying that company aspects are not relevant for job seekers, but be sure to put a focus on communicating job attractivity first (think persona-based communication strategies). This is what people are most interested in. Hence my conclusion that successful talent acquisition is possible even neglecting an employer brand. Although for sure an ideal company has covered both.

Do you think employer branding is different for more traditional & established companies than modern & faster organizations?

Two thoughts to that: established companies tend to have more of an inherent brand and culture. Grown through years of being in business. Thus it can be defined more clearly. Whether this „DNA“ is still relevant to the talent market they would like to hire from is another discussion. While a younger and growing organization might struggle with still being in the flux: defining a positioning as an employer has the challenge of timely validity and needs to be reviewed in shorter intervals compared to established organizations. But there’s also a beauty to that: it can make the Employer Branding much more authentic and lively. Sharing this process internally and externally can become an attractive employer branding measure by itself.

What might be challenges that both ‘realities’ are facing?

Covering the whole funnel: from awareness to relevance to actual recruitment. All companies share problems at one or the other point of the funnel for various reasons. Small or new organizations might lack awareness while bigger companies have to cope with image or attractivity in certain target groups. Having clarity on your challenges across the funnel and countering them is the one thing where Talent Acquisition in all organizations are alike.

When it comes to employer branding — what can startups learn from corporates?

Taking talent acquisition seriously as a whole. It is so much more than mere recruiting and growth hacking. There are steps before and after that make the candidate journey. You might feel you have no time or resources to go there, but in the end, it will help you to recruit more sustainably.

When it comes to employer branding — what can corporates learn from startups?

Being more flexible and courageous in their marketing and recruiting activities. Putting the candidates in the middle of anything they do (think design thinking). You don‘t have to have all the answers: start small, test, learn from it and adapt — or kill — the activity. Don‘t see this as a failure and as a leader don‘t expect everything to work out. But do insist on clarity why you are doing things and how you are going to measure the effect of it.

How do you make the impact of employer branding measurable?

Depends on the challenge you are trying to cover. Having clarity on what you are trying to solve is the very first (and often overlooked) step of measurement. Is it awareness? Awareness by whom? How does it show? Is it a growing number of participants at your meet-ups? Traffic to your landing pages? Click-rates of your posts? Or is it relevance? Again for whom and how does it show? Is it an open rate of in-mails, response rates, engagement rates. Is it recruitment? Contract acceptance rates? Time to fill?

“It all starts with the question: What is the problem you are trying to solve? The answer will dictate your measurement.”


Christoph is also a speaker at Social Recruiting Days this year in Berlin.

Read here what you should ask yourself before kick-starting your employer brand.

Connect with me on Linkedin and like TalentCrush on Facebook.




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