What is Employer Branding?

What is Employer Branding?

Just like relationships between people, if your brand isn’t clear about what it stands for, no one is going to be able to properly connect with you.

It’s critical you understand your brand properly in order to create a powerful relationship with your employees AND customers.

Brand + People = Your organisation’s DNA

Put simply, employer branding is about treating your staff and approach to recruitment in a way that is consistent with your organisation or external brand’s values.

For instance if you believe your external brand to be championing equality, then your employer brand needs to do the same.

If your external brand is a product aimed firmly at women who are planning on having a family, then your employer brand should have a considered and careful approach to how its employees are supported with maternity and paternity policies.

Otherwise, you’ll have a potential PR disaster on your hands and an ever revolving door of staff.


What Is Employer Branding?

Employer Branding is Contiguous with your External Brand

Before you attract new talent into your organisation, they will experience your brand as a customer or member of the general public looking outside in.

Their first impression of your organisation will be based on their understanding of your external brand.

Once talent joins your organisation, they are on the inside looking out.  This means that they genuinely know whether the claims you make about your brand and business externally are true.

If the external and internal brand are not consistently aligned, it makes it very difficult to attract or retain talent.

In the worst case scenario when these things become out of sync, you’ll also find your brand embroiled in a PR disaster.

When Employer Branding Goes Wrong

Here are some examples of when employer branding takes a hit:

Brew DogRemember when dozens of ex-employees signed open letter claiming they were bullied and treated like objects?

PWC There was fallout for the finance company when a London receptionist was sent home from work after refusing to wear high heels.

UberIn 2021 Uber lost a major legal battle over whether its UK drivers count as workers and are entitled to minimum wage


The 3E's of Branding

Understanding the 3 E’s of Branding

The biggest mistake companies make with their brand is to separate the 3E’s – they are not different brands!

The talent you want to attract exists in the real world. From the outside looking in, they will see the same as your customers

The talent you want to retain will know if your external brand says something different to your employer brand

Your employee brand will soon take a hit if your 3E’s aren’t aligned and congruent

What happens when the 3E’s are aligned?

It increases a company’s market value.

Companies with strong brands have higher valuations and provide better shareholder returns than similar companies with weak brands.

Robust, well managed brands also protect companies in turbulent and recessionary markets.

Tough brands make it extremely painful for competitors to enter the market. In fact, a predominant brand in a category will often discourage market entrants entirely.

In addition, customers pay more for something they perceive has a higher value

And don’t forget, people tend to get starry eyed about working with organizations that have impressive brands. Saying that you work for or with a name-brand corporation lends a certain caché.

Employer Branding Framework

Wondering exactly how to ‘do’ employer branding?

Now we’ve answered the all important question: ‘What is employer branding?’, this framework below will help you implement it in your organisation.


Step One - Brand Audit

Employer Branding Strategy

There are two parts to any Employer Branding Strategy.

Part One is the audit.

Research within your organisation with your existing team.  Find out their views on your purpose, vision and mission.  What do they understand your values to be?  Are they clear about your proposition, your brand personality and your core audience?

As you can see, there is significant overlap in the audit questions between your external brand and your employer/employee brand.

Only when you’ve audited everything on the slide above can you then start to work out where you have gaps.

By interviewing a cross section of your organisation, you’ll also start to understand where there are some inconsistencies.

Then the real work can begin – filling the gaps, ironing out the inconsistencies.


Step Two - Review Employer Value Proposition

Part Two is all about your Employer Value Proposition or EVP.

For this, look no further than the 4Cs – Career, Climate, Compensation & Culture.

When talented people come for interview or research your company, they will be assessing your employer brand based on these four elements.

Yes, salary is important.  But don’t underestimate the other things that people are looking for from an employer.

Most people are looking for a match on values and philosophy – and no amount of money can fix these if they’re broken or you’re operating a toxic work environment.

And an important watch out – fruit deliveries and shopping vouchers do not make up for a lack of support or training!


Bringing Your Employer Brand to Life

DIY – if you’re looking to do it yourself, then you need to start with the two steps outlined above.  You may also find an understanding of brand archetypes can help in connecting the dots.

External support – You may want to work with a specialist, someone independent who can come in and conduct the interviews.  This is often the most helpful way to ensure the answers you get are honest and meaningful.

There are not many consultants out there who specialist in Employer Branding.  Often they will have an HR background.

But in reality, to ensure you really get the job done properly, any supplier you use for this work needs to understand both people and brand.

And generally, marketers have the most relevant knowledge in both these areas.

I’ve worked with many businesses to help them bring their employer brand to life – B2C, B2B, Private Sector, Public Sector – and in each case the feedback has always been the same:  “You’ve helped us get to the solutions that we’ve been searching for in just a few short weeks.”

What Next?

You may find these other articles useful:

Why I created a marketing course for Small Business Owners

Attract more customers using the 12 Brand Archetypes

or Get In Touch to discuss your Employer Branding Project or training on Employer Brand for your organisation