LONDON: Marketers play an important role in how consumers view a brand and so in building brand equity, but the concept begins internally with how management treats its employees and the experiences they have.

Writing in the current issue of Market Leader, Simon Barrow, an employer brand and M&A consultant, and Tim Ambler, a Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, suggest that an organisation's brand equity first develops "between the ears of its own employees" and then completes a virtuous circle wherein positive employee experience rubs off on customers.

But while sales and marketing departments deal with the world outside, few companies implement equivalent plans for their employees.

What Barrow and Ambler describe as the "employer brand" is not a new idea – Barrow first identified it 20 years ago – but they note that marketing thinking evolves slowly; the notion of brand equity itself is not much older.

Once brand equity is accepted, they say, it is a short step to separating it into the key segments – end users, trade buyers and employees.

Employer brand equity has tended to be preserve of the human resources department, but the authors suggest that it lacks the necessary skills, while marketing has the skills but not the territory.

"Very few on either side want to join the other," they say. "Employer brand management needs both and ultimately it is the CEO's responsibility to bring both functions together to achieve the best for the organisation as a whole."

Enthusiasm for the employer brand, however is muted and there are relatively few examples of it being successfully implemented, despite the results that are claimed for it.

For example, Stuart Wilson, until recently chief commercial officer at Burton's Biscuits Company, the only major UK specialist biscuit maker, saw the employer brand as a major contributor to more than doubling the company's worth between 2009 and 2015.

He stressed the need for the employer brand to be integral to overall business strategy and not "an add-on hobby".

Data sourced from Market Leader; additional content by Warc staff