Employee Branding Strategy: What It Is And How To Build One

It takes more than appealing logos, fancy fonts, and alluring colour palettes to build a successful brand today. Cohesive branding strategies are integral to building that all-important brand recognition, brand recall, brand awareness and brand loyalty.

A brand’s employee brand plays a critical role in establishing and maintaining its reputation, which is crucial for attracting and retaining staff and customers.

Strong brands are backed by employees who are powerful brand ambassadors. As a result, they assist in improving employee loyalty, managing brand reputation well, and attracting and securing the best talent.

So, what is employee branding? Simply put, it’s about getting employees involved with your organisation’s mission, culture, values, and vision, so they can share your message with anyone and everyone who interacts with your brand, from your customers, stakeholders, and prospects, to other employees.

It isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s essential for companies of all shapes and sizes, and it begins and ends with your employees, whether you like it or not.

Although leadership or recruitment marketing influences brand perceptions, your employee brand is largely determined by employee experiences and what they have to say about your company. Your current, former, and even prospective employees can have a significant impact on your company’s reputation by using social media, posting job reviews, and submitting testimonials. Having cheerleaders among your employees can be advantageous. But, when your employee or candidate experience doesn’t reflect what you’re communicating via your brand, it can hurt your business.

Using this article, you’ll learn what branding for employees is, how to create it, how to implement it, and what to look out for.

 

What is employee branding?

The importance of a branding strategy for employees in today’s talent market cannot be overstated. There has never been a better time for top talent to find a company that is right for them, and it’s vital that your branding sets you apart as the brand that is right for your future employees.

Using branding for employees as an internal and external marketing strategy, you can empower employees to become effective brand ambassadors. This is done by encouraging them to develop positive brand associations with your brand.

Essentially, it’s about getting your employees on board with your brand’s values and business objectives. This generates organic word-of-mouth and social advocacy for the brand when done well.

Each and every employee should be excited about working for your company, and if they’re not – it might be time to think about your branding strategy.

 

Difference between employee and employer branding strategies

The process may sound similar to employer branding, which focuses on presenting a positive image of the company to attract and retain top talent. Despite being two separate entities, employee and employer branding aren’t mutually exclusive.

The truth is an employer branding strategy, and an employee branding strategy are two sides of the same coin. Employer brand talks the talk, employee experience walks the walk. Great employee experiences fuel great employer brands, and great employer brands attract employees who thrive and fuel positive employee experiences.

Essentially, in a branding strategy for employees, companies develop an image of their employees and align it with their employer brand. Employer branding aims to appeal to potential candidates, whereas branding for employees is all about presenting your organisation in the most favourable possible light to current employees, ideal candidates, stakeholders, and customers.

As soon as your brand has secured an employee’s contract, you can educate them on your company values, branded behaviours, and company culture, so they can represent you as effectively as possible. This is employee branding.

An employer brand describes the reputation the employer has as a place to work, as well as the employer value proposition they offer their employees. To attract the best candidates, an organisation must develop a robust employer brand.

A branding strategy for employees, on the other hand, encompasses what people experience, observe, or feel during their employee journey. In other words, what it is actually like to work for the organisation rather than what you portray it as.

The importance of employer branding can’t be overstated, but behind every positive employer brand is a cohesive employee branding strategy.

 

How important is it?

Besides affecting staff retention and customer satisfaction, it’s an important factor for attracting candidates and prospects looking for differentiators.

An organisation with a strong employee brand has employees who are also powerful brand ambassadors. In addition to improving employee loyalty and brand reputation management, they also help attract and retain top talent.

Some of the key benefits are:

1. Top talent acquisition

For many companies, recruiting the right people is the most challenging aspect of growing their business. Having a strong team brand can help you stand out from other employers in your field, making it easier for you to find the right candidates.

In order to build an attractive brand, you need to identify your company’s unique value proposition (UVP) and communicate it effectively to potential employees. Aside from promoting your company culture, highlighting your achievements, and explaining what you want from your new employees, you should explain your hiring process as well.

An aligned brand can cherry-pick the best talent within their industry and educate that talent on how to represent the brand they represent.

2. Employee retention

Retaining your best employees can be made easier with a branding strategy for employees. Your business’s best asset is its staff, especially existing employees who have been around for a while and know the lay of the land.

Employers who put their beliefs into action, offer development opportunities and give current employees a chance to learn and grow, stand a better chance of attracting and retaining the cream of the crop.

3. Enhancing brand reputation

A brand that has a strong reputation as an attractive place to work increases demand for job openings there as a result of successful employer branding.

When you align your brand with employee needs and goals, you’ll create a culture of intrinsically motivated employees who will spread positive word-of-mouth about your organisation.

Business partners, investors, and customers can be attracted to your company through a branding strategy focussed on employees.

Praise from the public helps your brand build a good reputation. Everyone benefits when you have an excellent reputation among potential customers and investors.

 

How to build your employee branding strategy

Whether you’re just starting your branding journey from scratch or looking to improve certain aspects – here’s a step-by-step guide to help you build an effective branding programme that helps you attract and retain the best talent, boost employee satisfaction, and increase productivity.

1. Align employer branding and employee branding

There has never been a more important connection between employee experience and employer brand than now, or a more accessible one online. Transparency is becoming increasingly important to job seekers and customers, and they will research what a company stands for and how that compares to what happens in their workplaces. An organisation’s commitment to social causes, philanthropy, and community engagement must be visible internally and followed through with publicly.

When it comes to the internal employee experience, employers must ensure they live up to their external brand promise and values. There must be a good alignment between your external messaging and the internal operations of your organisation. Regardless of what you claim about your brand – from your work environment to your onboarding process – it is vitally important to make sure these statements align with the experiences of your employees.

Example: Starbucks

This brand lives up to its promise. In 2022, the coffee giant ranked in Fortune’s prestigious ‘Most Admired Companies’ list. Seattle-based Starbucks values diversity and inclusion in its talent acquisition, and has been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave it a 100% rating in its 2022 LGBTQ+ Equality report.

As a global company, Starbucks shows pride in its diversity and works hard to hire people with a wide range of perspectives to promote inclusivity and big ideas. It isn’t performative and they aren’t afraid to display their stance publicly. The company culture they claim to have is true. Their handling of Trump’s travel ban in 2017 is a good example of this. The company protested by announcing it would hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next five years.

2. Create consistent employee communications

Communication is a vital part of any company, and most organisations have a strategy for reaching their employees. Have you ever wondered how effective your organisation’s internal communications are?

Keep discussing what your organisation stands for with current and new employees. The mission, values, and desired brand image of your organisation should be clearly conveyed in your messages frequently and consistently. Communicate internally with employees, engage them in human resources activities, implement technology that employees want to use, and hold informal social events to clarify their roles.

Example: Microsoft

Through effective internal communication across all departments, the company fosters a sense of community. Employees are able to network with employees and leaders through the company’s “CEO Connection” page. Moreover, it facilitates top-down communication and makes leadership communications more accessible.

There are a number of team-building events and bonding opportunities that are provided by the company for colleagues. In addition to using events to rally employees behind solid company values, they also use them to motivate employees. Through regular community outreach activities, for example, social responsibility is bolstered in a meaningful manner.

3. Create a compelling employee value proposition

Your employee value proposition (EVP) plays a crucial role in how attractive your brand is to new recruits and how effectively you can retain the valuable employees you already have. Keeping this information accessible and transparent for all members of your organisation is essential for reinforcing these messages.

Let’s say you’re hiring an employee. Whether you’re offering that person a job or they’re in the recruitment process, you need to think about what elements of your culture you’d like to highlight. How does your company differ from others? Is there anything you can offer your competitors that they can’t? By taking these steps, you will not only be able to hire the best candidates, but you will also be able to retain loyal, engaged employees. Communicating this offering requires a clearly defined EVP.

Example: LinkedIn

As part of LinkedIn’s employee value proposition, the #LinkedInLife slogan encourages employees to talk about the company culture on social media. There are a variety of benefits offered by the company, including those related to health, family, passion, must-haves, and extras. The benefits package covers everything from childcare subsidies, eldercare subsidies, and pet care subsidies to education reimbursements and life insurance. Every year, employees receive a “paid shutdown” during which the company closes for a week.

4. Develop a hiring and recruitment program

Your hiring and recruitment processes must attract the right candidates to turn employees into brand ambassadors.

You can monitor and manage your employer brand proactively with reputation management software. As a result, job previews can be accurate and specific, so you will be able to identify the best candidates for the job.

Example: Redbull

RedBull’s recruitment process offers users a very exciting candidate experience. Using Wingfinder, an interactive tool that consists of four parts, candidates can identify their own strengths. The process involves asking questions focused on four key success areas.

Red Bull has cleverly incorporated their trademark slogan into their recruitment process to fit within its branding – “Red Bull Wingfinder, give wings to your career.”

This recruitment technique is genius because it offers candidates the opportunity to develop and progress through their careers in a company. As part of its commitment to employee learning and progression, Red Bull is setting the bar high, increasing its attractiveness to employers. A strong talent pool is attracted by the impressive candidate experience.

5. Improve the candidate experience

Employee experience and talent mentality must be taken into account when creating a branding strategy. A free exchange of ideas between employees and the company should also be encouraged, this will ensure you’re always learning, adapting and growing as a team.

Are your human resources and recruiting department evaluating the experience when interviewing and onboarding candidates?

Building a branding strategy for employees requires an understanding of the candidate and employee experience. Employees should be empowered to share their thoughts about the brand, both good and bad. A big part of this is identifying the problems as early as possible so that they can be solved as soon as possible.

Engage employees in initiatives that will increase employee satisfaction, improve retention, and make them excited to work for your company.

As a result, you will be able to recruit top candidates easier, as your culture will be more appealing to outsiders. Furthermore, employees will be more motivated and become brand ambassadors.

In order to improve employee happiness, retention rates and make your employees feel enthusiastic about working for you, you should always implement workplace programs.

Example: Spotify

As seamless as it gets, Spotify provides internship candidates with a clear, informative, and seamless internship application process. A list of internship opportunities and deadlines for applications is provided on their internship page, along with program lengths, FAQs, and deadlines for applications. Also included are experiences from current and past interns, as well as plenty of advice. Previous interns of the Global Summer Internship Program even have their own Spotify culture podcast, the Greenroom. They offer a ‘Connect With Talent Community’ page where prospective candidates can submit their resume and LinkedIn profile to get connected with the talent community. Spotify offers candidates a clear understanding of the recruitment process from the beginning to the end.

6. Utilise the power of social media and tell employee stories

Social media can be a powerful tool for increasing employee branding effectiveness.

As soon as your company culture and values are clear, you can empower your employees and encourage them to engage, create, and share their work. Benefits abound. As well as enhancing current employee confidence and excitement, it can also positively influence colleagues and new talent.

The use of social media is a great way of introducing everyone to your brand and what you do rather than just interacting with prospective hires through career sites or job postings.

As well as increasing employee engagement, your social posts will attract top talent and motivate your employees’ networks to apply for open positions. Employee referrals make some of the best hires!

Social media can also influence marketing and sales – today, a great working environment and a company that cares about its people are what people want in a brand. Your brand will be in front of countless people when your employees share about their work, the company, and its culture.

Example: Zappos

To source and retain top talent, the well-known online retailer has built a strong employer brand.

Their Twitter and Instagram accounts enable audiences to learn more about the work culture and employees. By attracting future employees and fans from the beginning, companies can gain a competitive advantage.

Brands must do more than just show off their company culture. There is always a need for an internal branding strategy for employees. Similarly to Google, the Zappos team educates and encourages employees to share their experiences.

7. Introduce brand training

To elevate employee branding, your company may need to leverage brand training.

Make sure your employees have the opportunity to improve their work as well as their career trajectory. Brand training, like recurring workshops, helps employees become more effective brand ambassadors by teaching them how to communicate about the brand.

For new hires to represent your brand effectively, they need to understand who you are, what you stand for, what your values are and how to communicate it all through front-line engagement.

Example: Amazon

An Amazon employee will spend a month in an intensive team-building and leadership program before beginning their onboarding process. This program will teach employees how the company works and how to use their team-building and leadership skills in the workplace. A course designed to help remote workers remain productive and efficient will be provided by Amazon to employees who would like to work from home. Additionally, for employees in fulfilment facilities who want to learn high-demand skills, Amazon pays 95% of the cost of education.

8. Gather employee feedback and testimonials

The success of your branding for employees requires a feedback loop between employers and employees. With the rise of business review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed.com, more employees are sharing their opinions and rating their interviews and employee experiences. Using social media sites such as LinkedIn, they discuss their work lives and participate in wider discussions about business.

To build a strong employee brand, you want to gather as much information as possible, regardless of whether the feedback you receive is good or bad.

Employer brand monitoring is crucial not only for retaining staff and developing high-potential employees but also for monitoring your processes and identifying improvements.

By listening to employees and taking action, you can help your business grow. By listening to employees and taking action, you can help your business grow.

Example: Pepsi Co

As part of its commitment to the PepsiCo way, PepsiCo celebrates the achievement of its employees continuously. Furthermore, through a series of pulse surveys, it provides employees with the opportunity to share their opinions and opinions through multiple channels.

9. Boost employee engagement

The people you hire are responsible for defining your company’s culture, instilling its values, accomplishing your goals, and executing your mission. Your employer brand would not exist without their involvement. Here are a few ways to boost employee engagement and keep your employees motivated, engaged and involved:

  • Make your message clear. Establish a set of words or phrases that describe your company’s values and describe the experience of working for your company. Weave these words or phrases into your company’s vernacular. Ensure that it is simple, clear, informative, and unique. Focus this language on your career pages, recruiting sites, social media accounts, and anywhere else you can leverage your employee brand.
  • Encourage your employees to flex their talent. Maintain current, professional, and attention-grabbing online profiles for your workers. The more attention your former or current star employees bring to your brand, the better your chances of recruiting are.
  • Engage your employees in social recruiting. Encourage your employees to post company news and updates on job listing sites and to share job opportunities with their personal networks as they arise. A good branding strategy for employees starts with employees using LinkedIn and other social media networks to represent themselves and spread the word about your company as unofficial recruiters and marketers. In addition to posting about company perks (such as healthcare), ask your employees to elaborate on their experiences as employees.
  • Provide opportunities for skills development and advancement. You can save money on recruitment costs and cost per hire when you promote from within, so make sure your workers have opportunities to grow personally and professionally. To attract and retain job candidates, offer management and leadership training, special certifications, and career advancement opportunities.

Example: Sephora

In order to ensure the best employee experience, Sephora has focused on three key aspects: training, technology, and development. Starting on the first day of employment, all cast members (the company’s internal name for the frontline staff) receive training on the three main product categories (perfume, makeup, and skincare), and are constantly retrained on new products, techniques, and trends as they emerge.

In addition to making sure their cast members become industry experts, Sephora also ensures that they have the most up-to-date technology available in their stores. From ColorIQ (the digital shade finder), to handheld registers, staff use high-end technology as often as they use makeup brushes, which makes their jobs easier and more enjoyable.

The company prides itself on providing its staff with the opportunity to move between positions, stores, departments, or even countries, and the company is dedicated to providing them with these opportunities.

10. Have a great company culture

Make your workplace an exciting place to work, and people will naturally have positive things to say about it. Be proud of your company’s values, and live them!

It’s easy to roll your eyes at a company’s values or mission statement. Nevertheless, every company should have a mission statement that explains its values and what they stand for.

It will be difficult to build a branding strategy for employees, if employees don’t know what they are, don’t understand them, or, worse yet, don’t see leadership practising what they preach.

Example: Google

The Google 20 percent time policy allows employees to spend 20 percent of their time on creative side projects. An innovation-based culture breeds pride, loyalty, and innovation and the company’s commitment to work-life balance is clear.

On its about page, Google shows off its very strong employee brand. There you’ll find information about Google’s mission and values, its commitment to users, and employee stories.

The tone is already set for excitement about the value Google provides both internally and externally. The Google careers page takes it one step further, emphasising everything from diversity and inclusion commitments to hiring methods.

 

Over to you

Strong brands appear as a united front – and employee branding can help you get there. To build a strong and cohesive brand that attracts and retains top talent, companies must build a reputation as great places to work.

Brands are beginning to recognise the power of branding strategies to gain a competitive advantage, and if you’re looking to kickstart your branding journey, we’d love to help.

We would be delighted to assist you in developing, strengthening, or adapting your strategy to assist you in transforming your employees into brand ambassadors and driving real growth.

Drop us a line to discuss how we can help.

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