We all know the importance of branding. It shapes perceptions about a company or organization by telling an individual story or making a promise. But when you think about an employer brand and a consumer brand, often those stories are different. They each represent a company in a unique way, targeting different audiences for separate reasons, right? Well, not quite. The truth is that these two brands are actually more intertwined today than ever. And here’s why it’s important.

The employer brand and consumer brand each play a unique role in a company’s success. Consumer brand focuses on the company promise to deliver a great product or service to the consumer, while the employer brand focuses on the company promise to (hopefully) deliver a great workplace experience for the employee. In the past, these two things were developed separately from each other, and organizations had the ability to portray themselves differently to their consumers and their employees. However, we have shifted as a society—we now have greater industry transparency facilitated by social media and websites like Glassdoor. In addition, consumers’ values have shifted toward understanding how companies deliver on their promises and treat their employees.

As a result, the line between the employer brand and consumer brand is becoming blurred. A company’s culture influences both the consumer’s decision to purchase or support that brand, as well as influences the candidate’s decision to join the company. Today, it’s critical that companies think of these two things holistically.

This holistic focus has proven to be effective for many forward-thinking organizations. For example, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh believes “your company’s culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand may lag the culture at first, but eventually it will catch up. Your culture is your brand.” Additionally, Starbucks has focused on sharing their employer brand through their consumer brand. Their café experience and interactions with employees reflect this strategy. In an interview about employee culture, Brian Waring, VP of Marketing at Starbucks, makes it clear that the employer and consumer brands work in tandem, saying “the more [employees] embrace our values, the better our coffee and our service.”

To create alignment between the employer brand and consumer brand, HR and Marketing must work together to understand and promote the “Holistic Brand.” This “Holistic Brand” should embody the company mission, vision, values and culture, while also empowering employees to take ownership and deliver on company goals. By establishing a true “Holistic Brand,” you enable employees to deliver on the promise behind the consumer brand, while creating the foundation for your company’s future success.

Christina Murphy currently works as an Account Manager out of JWT INSIDE Los Angeles. She offers 4 years of experience in corporate communication, employee activation, and internal communication strategy. Christina provides support to multiple accounts including retail, healthcare and finance. In her free time she works on her co-authored food blog, nathanandchristinamakefood.com.