Claire Treloar


July 23, 2021


Designing a Visual Style for Your Employer Brand

One of the fundamental aspects of delivering an employer brand is devising a visual identity system that incorporates graphic design, illustration and photography. Of course, there’s alot more to employer branding than design. (Everything from employee research to candidate journey mapping to EVP development and beyond.) However, it is through visual design that we most commonly experience employer brands, so its importance cannot be overstated.


Leveraging your corporate brand guidelines

An attention-grabbing employer brand should be visually distinct from its accompanying consumer brand so that its career message comes through loud and clear. Nevertheless, it should draw from the same overarching corporate brand guidelines.

That’s because, when all said and done, employer brand and consumer brand visual guidelines are driven toward the same end-goal: creating a single, unified reputation for the company. It’s just that the candidate journey is divergent from the customer journey, so considerations need to be made to take that into account.

Your employer marketing agency should be willing to work with your internal Marketing division to understand the dos-and-don’ts of your corporate brand, while simultaneously challenging them to see their unique perspective on the resourcing strategy. What looks best on a billboard, for instance, doesn’t always work well on a programmatic job ad.


Employer brand photography

People photography—either in posed portrait form or in fly-on-the-wall style—has become the norm in employer brand visual identities. This is because people are said to relate better to images of other people. The benefit of this approach is that you can celebrate the distinct aspects of what make your workplace unique, from the uniforms to the physical environments within which your people work.

It also gives you the chance to showcase your employee persona champions, i.e., people who end up becoming the stars of your employer brand campaigns, appearing in all related communications. A picture can capture the emotions of working within your workplace—all those little, but hugely important, interactions—better than the proverbial thousand words.

One risk of basing your photography guidelines primarily on unadorned people photography, however, is that it reduces the capacity for creative conceptual thinking by taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to campaigning. In other words, a lot of attraction campaigns end up looking the same as one another, so it’s harder to stand out from the crowd.

So, your marketing agency should be at pains to keep your photography guidelines loose enough that a graphic designer can play around with them in post-production. Like Jupiter did, for instance, with its photography for Pizza Hut Restaurants.


Illustration in employer branding

Does illustration work as well as photography in employer branding? In some cases, it actually works better. Especially now as the sector moves more and more toward an organic content-driven approach and away from a paid advertising-led one. That’s because illustration gives your marketing agency much greater flexibility in terms of what they are able to depict.

Imagine, for instance, if your employer brand outputs are rooted in very specific long-tail keywords, such as ‘learning to use [X company’s] bespoke training app.’ It’s very hard to depict that in a photo that isn’t taken in a training room with one person pointing at a screen depicting the app while the other nods along. And that’s not only quite cheesy, it’s also quite a complicated shot. A branded illustration could depict it so much more simply and in a much more stylised way.


So, yes, illustration is a great idea for enhancing employer brand visual identity systems—and it can be used in conjunction with photography or even as the sole visual style. (A combination is always better as it gives you much greater flexibility.)


Typography and colour palettes

Your corporate brand guidelines are likely to include a degree of flexibility on how colours and type are used in your visual outputs. When developing an employer brand, a smart agency will take these considerations into account so that there is both a sense of connectivity with your consumer brand but also a distinctness from it.

An employer whose HR function works closely with its marketing function may even have a little bit more sway than that. In these instances, you might be able to agree an even greater degree of freedom for your employer marketing agency so that they can pivot work off your consumer brand while giving it its own unique look and feel to really distinguish it.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you with your brands visual identity, please get in touch today



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