Employer Branding Authentizität

Authenticity is the key to successful employer branding.

Tanja Fiedler, Lisa Geisler and Maritta Seitz
April 5, 2024

Competing means presenting yourself in the best light. Job seekers polish their CVs and companies make great promises to attract as many candidates as possible. Interchangeable job adverts are met with any number of applications. Authenticity is the key to successful employer branding here – our colleagues Lisa Geisler and Tanja Fiedler explain why.

Maritta: Why is authenticity in employer branding so important?

Tanja: In the current landscape, many, many brands are competing for employees. At the same time, these brands are almost indistinguishable from one another when you take a look at their careers pages and job vacancies. Everything always sounds fluffy, funny, perfect, wonderful.

For one, this makes it difficult for applicants to understand what they are actually letting themselves in for. At the same time, it makes it harder for brands to find the applicants they really need. Fortunately, more and more brands are breaking away from this old paradigm and seizing the opportunity to present themselves as they truly are.

Maritta: Can you give us an example of authentic communication in employer branding?

Tanja: One good example is Netflix, which has absolutely unbelievable expectations in terms of the performance and quality of applicants. However, they make it quite clear that not everyone will be able to land a high-flying career at the company. They communicate this so clearly that applicants know exactly what lies in store at Netflix. This generates matches much faster and you can save an unimaginable amount of time in the application process.

Maritta: In contrast, what sort of generic promises do companies make?

Tanja: It goes without saying that diversity is currently a massive topic. Diversity in the sense of different cultures, age groups and LGBTQ+. It is often used merely as a buzzword and is not actually embraced by the company. Instead, promises are made that are in no way based in reality.

Lisa: Another negative example is the Mercedes ‘Becoming One of Us’ campaign, which uses a load of generic terms. It is a highly polished campaign in which you see nothing but young, cute people who look like models. They are all happy, trendy and urban. Instead of seeing a working environment, it is all about a group feeling of self-discovery and development. You are ‘together for excellence’ and completely detached from the reality of most people’s lives.

Maritta: Are there brands that do it better?

Lisa: Unlike the Mercedes campaign, Kärcher is a strong example. They have built their new image around the ‘WOW’ feeling with Kärcher. The design is indeed fancy and the claim is nice, but you get to see people who appear completely normal in short video sequences. People who seem friendly: we are doing great things here, we are professional and yet we are still down to earth.

Testimonials are an excellent opportunity for companies to appear as authentic and natural as possible to the outside world by allowing the people who shape the company, who are the brand, to speak.

That is why testimonial videos are also part of our employer branding campaign for Grant Thornton.

Maritta: In what other ways can companies make their employer branding more authentic?

Lisa: Authentic employer branding also encompasses fundamental topics like salary, working hours and whether working from home is really an option. That is the information applicants look for before they watch employee videos.

And that is where companies have to be brave, transparent and credible.

An exciting study by Trendence shows that the greater the clarity around these topics, the more applications are completed. Around 30 per cent of applicants do not submit an application because there are no details about the salary. Around 34 per cent do not do it because they find the job adverts too vague and more than 49 per cent do not do it because the profile of requirements has not been formulated clearly. The basic information is the weak point.

Maritta: Why do companies find it so difficult to be clear and transparent?

Tanja: It is down to the wishful thinking that difficult subjects like salaries can simply be swept under the rug. However, false promises or deliberate obfuscation attract people who are not right for the role from the outset, or who would not have applied at all if they had been aware of all the facts. It is pure delusion and a complete waste of time – for candidates and HR departments alike.

Maritta: Ideally, authentic employer branding attracts the right applicants with the right qualifications – what other advantages does it have?

Tanja: Strong employer branding means not only communicating information externally to motivate the people who are meant to work for the company – it also means inward recognition. It also aims to build long-term ties with people who already work for the company. You have to cultivate it from the inside out if you want to make an outward show of it.

And don’t forget: employer branding more and more often takes the form of external advertising, which is to say at train stations and airports as well as in newspapers, online and digitally. And that is where it is seen by customers and business partners too.

This means that employer branding is not only about HR, but also public image. Consequently, you can kill two birds with one stone if you do it well.

Maritta: How can its treatment of employees have a further positive influence on the public image of a brand?

Lisa: It’s fascinating when a company experiences a crisis. The honesty and authenticity of its communications can have a strong external effect. The mass lay-offs at Neue Narrative are one positive example of this. The company’s communications on this topic showed appreciation, transparency and authenticity like no other for months.

Neue Narrative refused to hide behind generic phrases like ‘We are reducing recurring expenses’, choosing to speak plainly instead: We are forced to part ways with colleagues, people, with whom we enjoy working and who have done great work. It pains us to see them go, which is why we are working to ensure that they find employment somewhere else.

Although it was about terminations, you sensed that Neue Narrative has to be a great employer, because the brand stayed true to its usual position, even in times of crisis.

Maritta: A strong corporate culture is at the heart of authentic, effective employer branding. What can companies do if their culture is not quite perfect yet?

Tanja: It is impossible to work with a corporate culture that acts as if everything is perfect and sweeps everything else under the rug. As employer branding consultants, we prefer a corporate culture that might not be completely perfect, but recognises its shortcomings and challenges – that is exactly where you find its potential for growth.

With an empathetic eye, we empower brands to transform shortcomings and challenges in their employer branding into success. One example is our collaboration with the accounting firm Grant Thornton.

Contact person

Lisa Geisler
Brand strategy

Tanja Fiedler
Communications consulting, storytelling


Employer Branding
Employer Branding at Stan Hema.

Grant Thornton
Communication strategy with a twist.