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How to Build a Successful Employer Branding Strategy

By Alex Larralde
Updated June 21, 2022
8 minute read

When competition is fierce, brands that are well-known and well-liked have an edge. An effective brand generates business value and drives greater market share, setting your business apart and building credibility with consumers. Your employer branding strategy can have a similar effect on your ability to attract and retain top talent.

Your employer brand communicates your priorities in terms of culture, values, and behaviors, and sets expectations for what incoming candidates can expect from the employee experience. Your employer branding strategy sets the course for taking control of your brand.

From helping you identify what’s most important to curate and promote, to aligning your employer brand with actual employee experiences, your employer branding strategy drives positive talent outcomes.

Here’s how to develop an employer branding strategy to attract and retain top talent.

What Is an Employer Branding Strategy?

An employer branding strategy takes control of how your organization is perceived as an employer. The more positive and distinct your brand is, the easier it will be to attract top talent who will thrive in your company culture.

Your employer brand encompasses actual employee experiences and your company culture, mission, vision, and values. Your branding strategy guarantees that your brand represents who you are as an employer.

As part of your employer branding strategy, identify gaps in how you’re presenting on the market versus what employees really experience. Use this information to design initiatives that drive greater alignment between your company culture, lived experiences within the organization, and how you advertise those experiences to the public.

Why Is Employer Branding Important for Your Organization?

An authentic, effective employer brand can produce countless benefits for your business. Your employer branding strategy encompasses the plan and process for bringing those benefits to life. Here are a few of the reasons why an employer branding strategy is an important component of your talent strategy.

Lower Turnover

A strong employer brand helps you attract candidates who are strongly aligned with your culture, resulting in higher retention rates. If your brand is authentic and genuine, candidates will understand what to expect from the employee experience and can make more informed decisions before accepting a job offer or even submitting their application.

Content such as realistic job previews and videos of employees on the job can communicate what working at your organization is like. Other content on your careers site and social media channels can showcase the value you offer to employees, such as benefits, culture, or sense of personal fulfillment.

Higher Customer Loyalty

Consumers today want to spend their money on ethical organizations. When your employer brand is authentic and clearly defined, consumers can see how you treat employees and whether employees are happy to work for you. Demonstrating this can foster high customer loyalty.

This is especially true when it comes to the diversity and inclusion of your employer branding. Publish your inclusion statement on your company website to communicate the steps your business is taking to close gaps. In today’s business climate, transparency about diversity, inclusion and ethical treatment of employees can garner higher customer loyalty.

Increased Growth

An attractive brand does wonders for your reputation on the labor market. Uniting your employer brand with your consumer brand can do even more, driving talent and business outcomes. Aligning both brands, in addition to showcasing shared values and priorities, demonstrates your organization’s commitment to its mission, vision, and values, which can build trust with candidates and consumers alike.

Consider a business, for example, that publicly states its support for racial and social justice issues but doesn’t back that up with internal diversity and inclusion initiatives. Candidates and consumers may perceive that brand as pandering or opportunistic rather than genuine, which can have a negative impact on its market share. By contrast, strategic alignment of your two brands drives growth. Work with your company’s marketing team to bring both elements together in a way that makes sense for you.

Greater Ability to Bring in Top Talent

The most significant benefit of an effective employer branding strategy is an increase in the ability to attract and retain top talent. A well-defined brand is a great marketing tool for attracting candidates who share your values and will be passionate about driving your mission forward. And the more well-known your brand is, the more likely you are to receive interest and applications from high-caliber talent.

A greater ability to attract talent can significantly improve your talent acquisition metrics, which provide evidence of an effective talent strategy. When you don’t have to devote a lot of time to developing a viable talent pipeline, for example, your time to hire will decrease.

11 Employer Branding Best Practices

Are you ready to implement an employer branding strategy at your organization? Use these 11 employer branding tips to drive your strategy forward.

Define Your Goals

Your brand and culture don’t have to be left to chance. You can define what you want your employer brand to be based on your mission, vision, and values. With a plan in place, curate the culture and brand you want to see in your organization.

Define your brand’s goals, including how you want candidates and employees to talk about your business. What sets apart your employee experience and employee value proposition (EVP) from those of your competitors? In what ways can your employer brand support your talent strategy? Determine the elements of your employer brand that are most important to prioritize.

Set Actionable Objectives

With clear priorities for your employer brand in mind, the next step is to set actionable objectives to help you achieve those goals. For each objective, write two or three key results — metrics indicating that you’ve achieved your objective.

An objective could be incorporating your values into job descriptions and performance reviews, for example, to create clearer accountability for behaviors that align with your values. A key result for this objective might be achieving a 25% increase in values-driven behavior throughout the daily course of work.

Use Social Media and SEO to Your Advantage

Your social media channels and content published on your careers site provide opportunities to communicate your brand to potential candidates. Content demonstrating employee life and the experience of working in specific roles conveys your brand and helps candidates decide whether your organization is a good fit.

It’s important that your representation of the employee experience on these channels be accurate and genuine. Misalignment between what candidates expect from the employee experience and what they encounter can break trust. This loss of trust detracts from your employer brand, reduces employee engagement, and potentially leads to higher turnover.

Identify Your Candidate Persona

The best candidates don’t just have the skills you need; they’re also aligned with your values and culture. Define what an ideal candidate who drives your culture forward looks like in terms of skills, behaviors, and aptitudes.

Spell out examples of values-driven behaviors in each role. Once you’ve identified your ideal candidate persona for each role, you can implement assessments to measure those factors in job seekers. Develop behavior-based interview questions to ascertain values alignment during the selection stage of the hiring process.

Audit How Your Brand Is Perceived

It’s important to see how your brand is perceived on the market. Public perceptions of your business as an employer are a significant part of your employer brand. They can either be a strategic talent acquisition tool or a liability to talent attraction strategy. Understanding what people are saying about your brand can provide direction for setting objectives for your employer branding strategy.

Job-review sites like Glassdoor and Fairygodboss are good places to see what current and former employees are saying about your brand. People share their real experiences on these sites, and employers have little control over what’s posted.

However, employers can monitor this content and quickly address any concerns raised by users. Once changes have been implemented, employers can respond to make users aware of how the situation has been handled.

Establish What Makes Your Brand Unique

No employer brand is the same, and your real value lies in your differences. Find those elements that set your brand apart, whether those include your values, your sense of employee camaraderie, or other aspects. These differentiators are among your brand’s biggest assets and selling points for job seekers.

Develop a marketing campaign to communicate these unique factors to candidates. Candidates who are strongly aligned with your brand — and those differentiators in particular — will be most invested in pursuing employment with your company. And those candidates whose values align with yours are more likely to stay engaged and employed with your company longer.

Streamline the Application Experience

Candidate experience is an important factor in employer branding. Your recruitment and employer brand isn’t just for employees: it’s also for candidates who don’t make the cut. Keep your hiring process simple, and prioritize communication with candidates about what’s going on with their application.

When you provide a good candidate experience, you leave a good impression on applicants — even those that don’t make the cut. Their experiences, and what they share with friends and family, contribute to how your employer brand is perceived on the market.

Invest in Your Employees’ Career and Well-Being

Taking care of your employees is crucial to building a positive employer brand. Prioritizing employee health demonstrates your commitment to the workforce, which sits well with employees, candidates, and consumers alike. Provide resources for your workforce’s physical and mental health, and survey employees before adding new benefits to determine what changes will have the biggest impact.

Take care of your employees professionally, too, by providing room and resources to help them grow. Give team members opportunities to learn in the flow of work, and allow time during the workday for self-guided study. Empower employees to pursue other roles in the organization, and reward managers for helping employees discover where they belong.

The more you invest in your employees, the better your company will be perceived on the market.

Establish an Employee Advocacy Program

Employees can be among your biggest brand advocates. Developing an employee advocacy program allows employees to share their experiences and perspectives through social media and other channels.

Work with your marketing team to develop a content pipeline featuring real-life employee experiences and stories — straight from the employees themselves. Stories are a powerful communication tool to illustrate what you are as a company.

And when information comes directly from employees, it’s more likely to come across as genuine and make an impact on candidates.

Develop Your Employee Value Proposition

Your EVP is one of the most important aspects of your brand. It encompasses your differentiators, the experiences you can offer, opportunities for growth, and your compensation and benefits packages.

Hearing what employees love most about your company through an employee advocacy program provides a wealth of content for your HR team to use when understanding and refining your EVP.

Test, Measure, and Improve Your Brand

To measure your employer branding strategy’s success, assess the impact on the business by monitoring metrics like time to hire or cost per hire. Have changes to your employer brand produced better hiring outcomes or nurtured a bigger talent pipeline?

Compare your goals for your employer brand against what employees report about your work culture and experience. As you move forward, be intentional about curating employee experiences to make your brand the way you want it to be.

5 Great Employer Branding Examples

An effective employer branding strategy produces high levels of awareness for your brand. Here are some examples of companies that have their employer branding on point.

Canva

Canva’s careers site puts employee experience front and center with dynamic videos and images showcasing employees at work — and at play. The company emphasizes programs designed to support women in the workplace.

Microsoft

Microsoft puts purpose first with the slogan “Do what you love: Create the future you want” that greets visitors to the careers site. The technology company features employee voices and highlights their stories. The Microsoft careers page even integrates Glassdoor reviews to give candidates a transparent glimpse of life at the company.

SAP

SAP’s employer brand highlights opportunities for promotion and internal mobility. The brand emphasizes that each employee experienced a different journey to where they are, and those experiences are highly valued.

Equal Experts

Equal Experts’s career site focuses on the benefits of the community and culture within the company. The page emphasizes inclusion and highlights employee stories from around the globe. The careers page links to the company’s values statement, appealing to candidates who share those values to apply.

Chipotle

Chipotle’s mission-oriented branding encourages candidates to apply and participate in its mission to “cultivate a better world.” The page highlights the benefits of working there, from free food to debt-free degrees — backed up by real statements from employees.

Create Self-Sustaining Talent Outcomes

An authentic and carefully curated employer brand is among your greatest assets. When you set an effective brand strategy in motion, you drive candidate awareness, improve conditions for your workforce, and nurture better relationships with candidates and employees.

When your brand communicates what you offer and what you stand for, candidates will seek you out themselves, creating a self-sustaining talent pipeline. And when internal talent can verify the brand you’re advertising on the market, they’re more likely to trust your organization — and stay longer.

Develop your employer branding strategy to drive positive talent outcomes at your business.

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