The brand is the very essence of your business, your foundation, your company’s personality, and one of the key factors that sets you apart in the competitive online and offline markets. While it is true that your company can have numerous advantages over its competitors, you can’t expect to build long-term success with great products, marketing, or customer service alone. After all, with so many competitors in your industry and niche gunning for the same demographic, you have to build a more powerful way to elevate your image above the crowd.
Now, while brand-building is essential to long-term success in business, too often will you see leaders focusing on the corporate brand instead of investing time, money, and effort into building a strong employer brand. Think about it, how are you supposed to attract the top talent in your industry if your brand is not appealing and engaging enough?
Remember, a fat paycheck doesn’t cut it anymore, because the top professionals in the field can always score an amazing job at a rival company – which is why you need to motivate them to become a part of your brand’s family. Of course, building a strong employer brand is a complex process with numerous key variables, which is why today we will be breaking it all down in this comprehensive guide to help you build an employer brand to remember.
Defining the employer brand
Many a time, novice entrepreneurs will think that simply creating a brand identity or a brand style guide is enough to complete the branding process, and that they can use this identity towards their recruitment goals and strategies. While it is true that your brand’s identity will play a vital role in all of this, it’s important to note that building an employer brand is different than building a corporate brand.
A corporate brand is geared towards attracting customers and clients, while your employer brand is focused towards talent acquisition, building a thriving employee collective, and creating a positive internal culture. In essence, your employer brand is how existing and potential employees perceive your company. To build an amazing employer brand, therefore, you have to focus on numerous processes in your company, and it all starts with your brand culture.
Start by building a culture
When people think of a company’s culture, they often think of the way those frontline departments communicate and interact with customers and the outside world. These departments include sales, customer support, PR, and marketing, and while they are essential for online reputation management and creating a unique brand image, they are not enough to create a stellar employer brand. This is because employer branding starts from deep within the company, and it needs permeate the entire organization.
For this and many other reasons, your first objective should be to create an employee-centric workplace culture. You can start by running a culture audit with emphasis on employee happiness, the needs of the individual, as well as their hopes, dreams, professional goals, and aspirations in general. Beware, this analysis will yield a lot of data, so be sure to create a dedicated team with a good project leader to help organize all that information and start building an amazing employee culture.
Focus on strong leadership
Speaking of leaders and leadership in general, now is the time to bring the best leaders in your company forward and task them with assembling teams and creating strategies and tactics that will bring an employer brand to life. If you’re lacking leaders in your company, then have your most prominent employees attend leadership training programs – focus on the individuals who regularly display the propensity towards strategic thinking, innovation, and understand the needs of the modern workforce.
Good leaders are hard to come by, yes, but they are essential for the success of this project, because you need strong authority figures and experienced strategists to guide your teams and push the project forward. The last thing you want to happen is for this process to grind to a halt, as you want to conserve that initial momentum and keep the proverbial ball rolling at all times.
Find reliable external partners
A company can have many leaders at its disposal, but you might find it difficult to acquire people who are experienced brand-builders, or possess the strategic thinking necessary to take such a complex project to fruition. After all, branding strategists are typically found in dedicated agencies, consultant firms, and companies that specialize in branding rather than in small businesses or medium to large enterprises.
This is because modern employer branding requires the input of not one but several experienced leaders and strategists, so you might find yourself needing some help from external consultants and partners. Don’t be afraid to bring in outside help when needed, because a fresh pair of eyes coupled with the experience and expertise these leaders bring to the table can be just what you need to build a winning strategy.
You can task your top management and your dedicated brand-building team to work side-by-side with these external partners, and you can even let an experienced external strategist lead the project with your oversight and regular inputs. This will ensure that the project keeps moving along, it will minimize setbacks, and will limit bias to help focus on the needs of your existing and potential employees.
Optimize and improve HR processes
To find and recruit the best of the best in your industry, you need to leverage the experience and expertise of your talented HR staff. These professionals understand the needs of the employees and the state of the modern job market on a deep and intricate level, and they know what it takes to support mental health in the workplace and ensure happiness and satisfaction, what the employees want and need from their brands, and what the job seekers are looking for when researching potential employers.
However, it’s not just about including the HR staff into the branding process, it’s also about leveraging HR insights and job market data to make better decisions and give direction to the entire branding project. This will help you improve various HR processes, including sourcing talent, reaching out to prospective employees, interviewing candidates, creating better tests and review processes for applicants, improving the onboarding process, and building a more inviting work environment.
One of the most important benefits of this, however, is having the ability and the drive to integrate new and improved HR technologies. The modern employee loves technology, and companies are currently thriving under digital transformation, which is why one of the best ways to retain and attract top talent is to integrate better recruitment and onboarding technologies that will streamline these processes. This will show the employees and job-seekers that your brand emphasizes digital transformation and is dedicated to creating a more productive and stress-free work environment for all – which is the key benefit of employee-oriented tech.
Create a powerful employee value proposition (EVP)
Your employees are your biggest assets, and that is something that needs to be felt when people come in contact with your employer brand, whether they are your long-term employees or prospective applicants. When you’re building your corporate brand, one of the steps is to define your company’s value proposition in order to create a foundation for your brand’s identity and weave your unique strengths into your overarching brand.
On the other hand, when you’re building an employer brand, you also need to define your employee value proposition in order to discover the unique strengths you have as an employer, and why your company is a wonderful place to build a thriving career. Of course, your EVP needs to align with your corporate value proposition, and help create a more well-rounded brand image in the eyes of the public.
The employee value proposition aims to portray your employee collective, your culture, and employer brand in the best possible light to all applicants, and most importantly, the most talented job-seekers in your industry. Needless to say, your EVP has to revolve around the basic pillars of employee happiness and success, including:
- A competitive salary and various benefits.
- A positive work environment.
- Collaboration and co-dependence.
- Leadership and guidance.
- Accountability, honesty, and equality.
- Understanding and compassion.
- A strong potential for professional and personal development.
Improve your brand visibility
Building a powerful employer brand won’t count for much if there is no one to bask in its glory, which is why you need to have a strong brand dissemination strategy in your arsenal. The way to disseminate your employer brand is through clever marketing tactics, and even though you could include offline marketing in this strategy, it’s important to note that digital marketing is typically superior and will allow you to reach a wider audience.
You can start by optimizing your SEO strategy to push your recruitment landing pages to the top of the SERPs. This will boost your brand’s visibility in the online world, but more importantly, it will help improve your trustworthiness – because if Google trusts you, so do the job seekers. In fact, you should aim to improve your SEO before you launch your SEM campaigns and paid ads on social media, because job postings that only appear as sponsored search results can look a bit dodgy.
Once you have your SEO and paid ads in check, you can start posting job openings on relevant online platforms and forums that focus on employee happiness and success rather than the financial rewards you offer. These sites often gather the best and the brightest in the field who know their worth and are looking for something more.
Let your employees be your brand advocates
As we’ve just mentioned, there are many ways you can disseminate your employer brand, and one of the best ways is to get your devoted and loyal employees involved in the process. After all, who better to spread the word of your amazing brand and boost WOM than the employees who have been with you through thick and thin?
And besides, always remember that the most talented job-seekers will rarely allow themselves to be swayed by fancy marketing and storytelling, and they will instead seek to find honest opinions from the people who work and have worked at your company. With that in mind, be sure to encourage your team members to share stories about your employer brand on their social media and on community forums and authority platforms in your niche.
Weave the culture into the entire organization
At the beginning of this extensive guide, we talked about the importance of creating a company-wide employer brand, and not just building a brand for your frontline departments that come in contact with job-seekers and customers first. Yet, somewhere along the way, the necessity to weave the employer brand into the very fabric of the company tends to get lost, especially when the leaders of this project start seeing the fruits of their labor.
It can be all-to-easy to confine this employer brand identity to HR and marketing, so when a new employee starts their career at your company, they are welcomed by a completely different image than the one they cultivated during the recruitment process. If you want to retain the best employees, you mustn’t let this happen, rather, make sure to run another brand audit to see if your employer brand truly permeates your entire organization.
Appeal to special demographics
Last but not least, never forget about the importance of creating a welcoming setting for the differently-abled applicants and employees. One of the most important elements of a positive employer brand is the way it treats its various team members, and whether or not it is welcoming to applicants with special needs. Needless to say, it is imperative that you adapt your employer brand to appeal to these special demographics, so that you can cultivate a more positive image in your community and industry, and in order to eliminate prejudice and hire the most talented job-seekers on the market.
As you can see, building a powerful employer brand is not an easy task, and oftentimes it will take plenty of preparation to create a comprehensive brand-building strategy. That said, now that you have this all-encompassing guide at you side, you should have no problem building an employer brand that will attract the best and the brightest to your doorstep while boosting employee happiness and retention.