Culture, EVP and Employer Brand: Explaining It Like a Two-Year Old

A few months ago, a client called with a plea. A brand-name F500 company, they needed to embark on an employer brand journey but they weren't sure their leaders and peers truly understood what employer brand actually meant. They were throwing around suggestions like "we need to refine our culture" and what we really need is an "employer value proposition."

I smiled. I'd been there--over ten years before. And I remember feeling the pain of a movement that was still new. The term employer brand hadn't been around long and there was little academic research happening in the space.  And while there are a number of places to learn about employer brand, culture and EVP, there is still so much confusion in the market (and plenty of "experts" adding to a muddled mess).

Because, like many of you, I started out confused too, I set out on a journey to make it easier.

I've spent the past decade combing through every book, article and academic lecture on marketing, brand and employer brand. I completed an MBA in HR and Marketing to find the intersection. I've interviewed hundreds of experts in anthropology, brand, marketing and HR and practically, have launched dozens of brands (learning some hard lessons along the way). And it all boils down to simplicity.

So with the help of literally hundreds of experts, I landed on the simplest way to understand the differences:

  • Workplace Culture: the way people work and behave in an organization
  • Employment Value Proposition: what employees value most about working in an organization
  • Employer Brand: how an organization brands and markets itself as an employer to attract and retain best-fit talent

The biggest lessons?


  1. These three concepts aren't the same and they're not interchangeable
  2. Culture, EVP and brand literally build on each other
  3. Just because someone has "employer brand" in their job title, job description or company description, doesn't mean they get it
  4. The overwhelming majority of employer brand and HR professionals can't describe the difference between culture, EVP and employer brand


  1. Culture starts with an organization's mission and vision to shape (or-reshape behavior)
  2. Culture isn't your EVP or your brand--it's the foundation of how work gets done.
  3. Culture is build-able and changeable--but only when there's an actual effort


  1. EVP isn't brand: it is the collective elements your employees value most about an employment experience, and
  2. EVP can only be formulated through research--it can't be a series of assumptions from HR or executives 
  3. EVP research has to be unbiased, reliable and valid--it can't be a few HR-led focus groups or a review of engagement survey data

Employer Brand

  1. Brand isn't EVP: it's what you become known for--and that's not always in your control (hence the need for marketing)
  2. Marketing isn't EVP: it's the effort you make to sell certain aspects of your EVP 
  3. The role of employer brand professionals is to determine what aspects of EVP you want to most sell and develop a marketing plan to sell them

The culmination of all of this work? It's not a lengthy research paper or lecture. It's a simple primer we here at exaqueo have decided to share freely.  You don't have to enter your email address or sign up for a mailing list to see it. We just ask that you tell us what you think or share your comments below and use attribution when sharing with others.

Preview the primer here or, email me directly for a shareable pdf.

Related Posts