Interesting to see an article in HBR pouring scorn on employer branding as a discrete activity - as opposed to part of wider 'corporate brand'.

The author makes some valid points: 

Employer branding projects do need top level sponsorship to gain traction across the business and really thrive.

The EVP or 'deal' needs to be anchored around significant aspects of the role, impact on customers/meeting business strategy and 'total reward' that are meaningful to the target hires and differentiate the organisation from competitors.  Not just trivial points like table tennis or free beers on a Friday. 

However, to be effective, a strong EVP/brand needs to balance what the organisation wants from current/future staff with what they're offering. 

And - in a rapidly changing world - basing all your research on current staff will give you a perspective on how to hire more of them - as opposed to the new workforce you may require. 

The best projects involve HR working together with Comms/Marketing and senior leadership. 

We've all seen employer communications aimed at attracting new talent that slavishly adheres to consumer brand messaging - making them anodyne and lacking differentiation. Let's not fall into that trap.