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Employer Branding 101

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The competition for top talent is fierce among employers. Great people, after all, are what make organizations themselves great. Today, many companies work hard to attract and keep great workers — especially by improving their employer branding.

For human resources experts and leaders, employer branding is a top concern. Read on to learn more about what employer branding is, why it matters, and how it can be used to attract great candidates and employees.

What Is Employer Branding?

Put simply, employer branding is the process of providing an identity and meaning to an organization and its work culture. Through branding efforts, a company can shape how it is perceived in the minds of current and potential employees. The employer brand tells a story, ideally to inspire people to want to join and contribute to the organization.

A strong employer brand, for example, makes employees proud to be part of the organization and motivated to contribute to it. A negative employer brand, in contrast, can make employees unhappy or even ashamed to be associated with the organization. In this way, employer branding affects everything from attracting and engaging prospective candidates to motivating and retaining existing talent.

What Is an Employer Value Proposition (EVP)?

At its most basic level, an employer value proposition encompasses your organization’s mission, values, and culture. None of these characteristics exist on their own, but instead, work together in cohesion to create a unique imprint for your company. It’s everything your company can offer as an employer in exchange for the required skills and experience your employees bring to the table. In essence, an EVP gives both potential and current employees a powerful reason to work for you.

Perks and benefits are an undeniable part of this story, but your employer brand and value proposition will also include the core identity of the business. To help determine what that looks like for your company, you’ll need to craft it around your leadership’s vision — though that’s just one ingredient. To create a successful EVP, you’ll need a majority buy-in from your employees across a range of things, from perks and benefits to remote flexibility and time off.

EVPs are often underestimated. However, an organization benefits immensely from a well-designed EVP. They do require some work, as they should be communicated often, both internally and externally. But as you’ll see, the benefits of doing so are invaluable.

Why Does Employer Branding Matter?

Employer branding is a top concern for many organizations because it has a huge effect on an employer’s ability to attract great-fit candidates, retain top talent, and increase employee satisfaction. A positive employer brand offers many benefits, which we’ll dive into below.

Attracts and Retains Top Talent

A row of workers clapping at a long wooden table.

Employee poaching is a very real fear for some employers. Individuals want to work for a company that has a solid reputation for treating its employees well, and if it doesn’t, don’t expect them to stay long-term and make meaningful contributions. It’s often cited that the true costs of turnover — things like lost productivity and on-ramping knowledge — are intangible. Nevertheless, these hard-to-measure factors result in very real sunken costs. Churn may force companies to cover as much as two times the amount of each exiting employee’s salary.

On the flip side, if a company is preceded by strong internal branding, it can actually assist in generating leads. This messaging encourages existing employees to take pride in what they do and acts as a magnet for other high-performing workers who will be drawn by word of mouth or attracted by core values. That’s why developing strong employer branding is crucial: it can act as a ripple effect, which will resonate first internally, then externally — bolstering both recruiting and retention efforts through job satisfaction and loyalty.

Mitigates Time and Cost Per Hire

When businesses look to reduce wasteful spending, it’s safe to say that recruiting is generally regarded as being near the bottom of the list. However, this is oftentimes misguided. According to new data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost per hire is nearly $4,700, and the average time to complete the hiring process is 42 days. But what if you could reduce both?

In today’s ultra-competitive talent market, having a proactive employer branding strategy is paramount in landing the right people and boosting ROI. In fact, a report by LinkedIn found that firms with top-tier employer branding reduced their cost-per-hire by as much as 50%. This, in turn, yielded more qualified applicants and reduced their turnover by 28%.

Sends the Right Message

Business team looking at the screens of their smartphones.

But ROI tells only one side of the story. LinkedIn’s report also found that a whopping 75% of candidates consider an employer’s brand before they even apply for a job, and more than half of all job seekers research a company’s website and social media accounts to learn more about an employer. Glassdoor reports an even bigger percentage of job seekers research company reviews and ratings. If any of the above is subpar — or worse, seems phony — you could be missing out on valuable talent turned off by your poor branding, visibility, or reviews.

Non-monetary benefits like culture, growth opportunities, and flexibility also play a role. In fact, they’re so crucial that a Hireology study found that 84% of job seekers are even willing to forego higher pay if you can offer these critical benefits, which are a big part of how a company packages itself to prospective job seekers.

Boosts Employee Morale

Workers aligned with a company’s mission statement and values receive more than a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. They also enjoy the added satisfaction of working for a highly esteemed company within and without — which, as a byproduct, has the added advantage of increasing productivity. This is achieved not just through compensation but also through company culture. They feel seen and heard, and their contributions are recognized. As a result, absenteeism is felt at a lower rate, and retention is increased.

Nowadays, with job seekers given more opportunities than ever to choose the right employer fit, providing proper compensation alone just doesn’t cut it.

Creates a Better Recruiting Experience

Happy  candidate shaking hand of HR recruiting manager congratulating hired applicant with handshake.

With the right employer branding established, the doors are open to a much broader and more diverse array of talent. This can accelerate the development of a robust talent pipeline: as more talented job seekers apply across various positions, the oversupply creates a database of stellar workers to pull from. Thus, there’s a real potential to remove bottlenecks for a better candidate and recruitment experience.

These reasons are why well-articulated branding that presents a defined vision, mission, and growth opportunities has untold benefits. As you can see, “employer branding” isn’t some meaningless corporate jargon that should be disregarded. Adopting a well-thought-out brand is crucial for businesses of all sizes.

Employer Branding Tactics

The most successful companies find new and innovative ways to engage current and future employees through employer branding and EVPs. While the most effective branding strategies will differ by company, below are a few key tactics to keep in mind.

Get Familiar with Your Company

An array of different hands coming together in a circle.

The best kind of EVPs are ones that are created by a company that’s able to define its unique attributes. Take the time to get to know your organization’s core business, vision, mission, values, and culture. Once you understand what your company objectives are, and what sort of talent is needed to accomplish those objectives, the value proposition becomes a lot easier to hone in on.

Nail the Message

When it comes to branding of any kind, language is everything. So when it comes time to create some words or phrases that describe your firm’s values and what it’s like working there, be creative. Also, brevity is your friend. Keep it simple, clear, informative, and concise. But most of all, make it unique to your company’s experience; a tacky or disingenuous message will have the opposite effect.

Create a Strategy That's Consistent across All Channels

Business professionals coming up with branding during a meeting.

When creating an employer brand strategy, ensure every touchpoint — from corporate websites to social media accounts — builds on the same foundation. Your brand should be recognizable throughout every step of the recruiting process, from sourcing candidates to onboarding them once they are hired.

Use Storytelling Tools

Videos, photos, and written content allow potential employees to learn why they should work at your company. Look for ways to convey real stories told by current employees — a tactic often referred to as “employee advocacy.” By showcasing the opinions of real employees, employers can combat negative stereotypes, promote company values, and showcase the great people who are already part of the organization.

Build Engagement Among Current Employees

Portrait of creative business team standing together and laughing.

Employees are the foundation of any company. When creating an employer brand, look to your own workforce. These people invariably shape your company’s culture, embody your values, achieve your objectives, and manifest your vision. Without their participation, your employer brand will be nothing. So rejoice in the wins — whether that’s in recruiting, research and development, or new business. In turn, they will take to social media and share the news with their networks. This snowball effect, if done correctly, will pay dividends toward employer branding — and the best part is, it will be genuine.

Employer Branding Examples

One of the biggest ways to attract top talent is to show them how your company can help them grow and develop their skills and abilities. To this end, many companies use video testimonials from their employees to tell their stories of growth as employees and as people.


IBM, for example, created a video series that shows employees singing the company’s praises on a variety of different topics, ranging from employee benefits to opportunities for growth. This branding campaign gave potential candidates an inside look at what it's like to work at IBM without requiring them to reach out to anyone in person.

Electronic Arts (EA)

A core tenet that EA promotes on its careers page is inclusion and diversity, which is given a dedicated breakdown by percentage across gender, ethnicity, and department, including leadership. They also elaborate on why pay equity is important, which is commendable, especially for a company in the software space.

Don’t Neglect Your Employer Branding

As the job market grows more competitive, employer branding is becoming an increasingly important part of a company’s branding and marketing efforts. Furthermore, employer branding helps build a reputation for companies and differentiates them from the competition. Today, the top brands in the world continuously experiment and innovate to find new and interesting ways to show their strengths as employers. Their employer branding simply brings it all together in one easy-to-understand story.

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