What is employer branding and why is it important?

Apr 15, 2020

How to create and manage a strong employer brand

Organizations that are able to find and seize opportunities in an ever-evolving economy and dito job market, will need a strong employer brand to attract enough talent, and more so talent that fits their identity, goals, and culture. In this article you will find some strategic concepts and steps from marketing and brand management, applied to the process of creating and managing a great employer brand. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns worldwide have changed the game for recruiters and job-seekers alike. Many organizations are now letting employees go and some will continue to do so, as the economic ramifications of the current crisis will continue to develop over the upcoming months.  

At the same time, companies who are able to find and seize opportunities in the new post-corona world, will grow - and need quality talent to fulfill their ambitions.  

One thing that will not have changed, and that if anything will only be more impactful after (but also during) the current crisis - is the importance of a great employer brand. A great employer brand not only helps to attract people by helping talent find you - it also helps you find people that are the right fit for your organizations' goals, identity and culture.  

Here you will find some general strategic concepts and steps from marketing and brand management, applied to the process of creating and managing a great employer brand.  

What is an Employer Brand? 

Posting a job opening and expecting a flow of perfectly fitting applicants is no longer an option. These days, HR and recruitment are tasked with employer branding that markets the company to exactly the right potential job applicants, and gets them and only them excited. 

What exactly is an employer brand? Every business has an employer brand, whether it’s intentionally constructed or not.  

An employer brand is nothing more than a sub-segment of your larger brand identity, aimed at a subsection of stakeholders for your brand - in this case potential new coworkers.  

As you can read in [this article], a brand is built up out of the core idea or purpose of a company and the tangible/visual representations of that idea, and manifests itself through the four vectors of product, environment, communication and behavior. The behavioral aspect is paramount to employer branding, as it relates to how people in your organization relate and behave to each other first, and to external stakeholders second. 

As with any aspect of your brand, it is first and foremost imperative that your employer brand works inside out, and that it is aligned with your company identity, mission, purpose and culture. Only from that starting point does it make sense to start thinking about communications, design, and campaigns. 

Your employer brand is the way your business is perceived in the job market. Investing in an employer branding strategy allows you to control that perception. 

Existing employees matter 

Not only does employer branding (or lack thereof) affect the way your company is perceived by potential candidates, it also affects the way it’s perceived by existing employees. People talk about work with friends and family. Not to mention, websites like Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com allow people to rate and review their employers. What they say inevitably shapes a certain image of your company.  

It is therefore vital to include a positive employee experience in your employer branding strategy. Always work inside out when thinking about, creating and managing your brand.  

How employer branding can help HR & Recruitment 

A strong employer brand will help you attract a higher number of qualified candidates, reduce time to hire, and lower the costs of recruitment. That's because a strong employer brand that is aligned with your corporate identity will only make it the more likely that you are able to attract not just enough people, but more so the people that are a great fit.  

Once you have hired new talent, a strong employer brand will also help you retain that talent. 

How to build a strong employer brand 

With the strategic value of an employer brand and the inside-out reasoning in mind, hereunder we outline a basic six-step tactical plan to creating a strong employer brand. 

  1. Evaluate your current situation
    Surveying existing employees can provide valuable insights into why they chose to work for you and how you are perceived as an employer. What sets you apart from the rest and what could you be doing better?

    Great Place to Work offers great tools to measure your employees' satisfaction, and also makes it possible for you to manage your employer brand by way of getting certified as a "Great Place to Work". A claim like this works all the more powerfully when it comes from your own employees and is certified by a trusted third party.

    Apart from surveying your existing employees, receiving feedback from your target candidates is also important in order to understand your employer image. You can set up larger-scale market research for this, but alternatively you could simply make it part of your recruitment process to ask any applicant a few short questions about how they perceive your brand.

  2. Set goals
    What are your goals? Do you mainly want to increase employer brand awareness, attract more candidates, or retain talent? Where should your focus lie at the moment? Once the goals are identified, you can set a number of KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your employer branding strategy.

  3. Identify your candidate persona and EVP
    Marketers create buyer personas to help them target the right audience.
    Similarly to that, as a recruiter you need to identify your candidate persona. What are they like? What drives them? What is important to them? Money, secondary benefits, growth opportunities, holidays, work environment, commute time, company culture and values- these are just some of the factors that can tip the scale in your favor.

    After analyzing what drives your target candidates, you can create an appropriate Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to attract them. Your EVP will act as the basis of your employer brand.

  4. Be visible and aligned
    Remember that in a competitive job market, most of the time, the best candidates will already have a very nice position, are only latently looking for a new job, and more often than not they will research you before they apply.

    Therefore, for starters you need to ensure that there is enough information online that can help them form an opinion about you as an employer.

    This means that your website, social media and overall presence need to be aligned with the employer brand you want to communicate.

  5. Facilitate your existing employees to be brand advocates
    Provided that they are happy, your existing employees can help you build a strong employer brand. Their first-hand experience can persuade candidates to choose you over other employers.

    Employee reviews, blogs, and videos can give candidates a taste of your work environment and help them see if your company is a good fit for them.

    A great way to do this could be to launch an employee advocacy program, where the employees are inspired and facilitated to share their knowledge and experience as it relates to your field and as it relates to working for your organization. This creates some of the most impactful marketing content that doubles as very authentic employer branding content.

    It also helps your people to share their knowledge, thereby strengthening said knowledge and allowing them to grow as people and professionals. how's that for a win-win-win?

    How do you manage an employee advocacy program? Think about setting up ways to facilitate your coworkers in terms of blogging for instance, but also the creation of video or other graphic content; offer them inspirational and practical training and finally use your own marketing team to finish the product and to make sure everything stays on brand.

  6. Throw a party!
    Organizing events, an open house or other social gatherings can help you build a strong employer brand. For potential candidates, events and open house days are a great way to meet you face-to-face and learn more about your company. Throwing a party for existing employees can make them feel appreciated, boost morale and thereby boost employee advocacy. 

What's next? 

Hopefully the insights and steps in this article are helpful to you in thinking about and creating your employer brand. But where do you go from there? In terms of creating a great employer brand by way of making sure your existing employees are happy, maybe it's a good idea to learn some more about creating and managing employee experience. 

  • Learn more about employee experience in this article 

If you're interested in how you could better manage a brand, or a sub-segment of your brand such as your employer brand, maybe it would be useful to learn more about how a tool such as a Digital Asset Management platform could be of value.  

Want to receive our blogs?

Subscribe to our weekly blog.