What You Need to Know about Employer Branding

Hester Gras

While there might be many still out there who consider branding as solely a marketing activity, the reality is that the growing importance of internal in relation to external has reached critical momentum. We’re now at the point at which one can fairly argue that to ignore bringing the brand alive with your internal audience is not only to ignore a critical opportunity to gain competitive advantage, but to do so at your peril.
These days, if an organization designs its branding strategy only with its external target groups and stakeholders in mind, they will be missing a phenomenal opportunity to drive value from those very resources closest to them and within their business: their own employees. In this special series, we’re looking at the employer brand, and how you can bring your organization’s brand values alive to your internal organization to support it.

In the coming weeks, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about employer branding in our special series dedicated to the subject. As this is our first instalment, we’ll start at the beginning and talk about definition, target groups and importance of the topic.

Definition of Employer Branding

Surprise, surprise! As the term ‘employer branding’ implies, it’s all about branding: the branding of your company as an attractive employer. When searching on the internet, you might find some different definitions and meanings, so we sorted through it all, sifted out the good stuff, and summarized it in a simple definition below.

“Employer branding refers to the branded communication activities involved in reaching and retaining that special, authentic and distinguished position as an employer in the minds of your potential, current and alumni employees and their influencers with the primary goals to attract, recruit and retain ideal employees.”

Target groups

As the definition describes, when designing an employer brand, you need to consider multiple target groups, the Big Three being: potential employees, current employees and alumni employees.

Potential Employees
These are the talents – either experienced employees or students – whom your aiming to recruit. What is their perception of your company and why should they want to work for you? Influencers, people within the direct environment of your potential employees, are a sub target group. These influencers could notify potential employees about vacancies or recruitment events.

Current Employees
You might already have an employee ambassador program. Very good! We can’t tell you enough how important it is to embrace your internal ambassadors. As a group, they are one of the most effective marketing tools. Keep on motivating and inspiring your employees in order to retain them.

Alumni Employees
A target group that is often forgotten when designing an employer brand is the group of alumni employees. The word “ex-employees” is in accurate, really, since they will, in fact, always be in the picture – albeit in the background – either working for or against your company’s interests. Universities figured out the value of this group a long time ago, and we see them as they do: as alumni. Stay connected with them. They are a very important part of the employee life cycle, and they can spread the word on your company.

The Importance of Employer Branding

In order to achieve your KPIs, you obviously need employees with the right set of skills, but you also need employees who share the same values and sense of purpose embraced and demonstrated by your organization’s brand every day. Employer branding is therefore critical for attracting and retaining talent. The better you’re able to visualize and demonstrate why you’re an interesting organization to join for the particular profile of employee you want to attract, the better you’ll be able to attract and keep them.

It seems straightforward and simple, but as every internal communication professional and good manager knows, it’s anything but that! A good plan, however, is a solid start that will make the journey smoother.

Alignment Alignment Alignment

If it isn’t already, ‘alignment, alignment, alignment’ should be your mantra in everything you do as an internal communication professional, and with employer branding it’s no different. Your Employer Brand is not a project that can survive on its own. Actually it’s not even a project at all, but something your brand needs to work on continuously. Terms that are related: employee engagement, employee well-being, and employee happiness/satisfaction. So, your employer branding is very close to your organization’s culture, but also always aligned with your corporate brand and with the related activities of your internal stakeholders.

In our next instalment, we talk about alignment.

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