As a business owner, you know how important having a cohesive brand identity is for your company.
You’ve created your business cards and designed your website. Your logo and typeface are thoughtfully crafted to match the spirit of your brand. You even have logo-plastered coffee mugs to gift people at the office.
You’ve done enough branding work, right?
Well, not quite.
While a well-planned visual identity is undoubtedly a necessary component of any brand strategy, creating a solid employee branding strategy is equally as important.
What Is An Employee Branding Strategy?
An employee branding strategy lays out actions taken to shape your reputation among potential hires and current employees.
In essence, a strong employee brand strategy enables you to control the conversation surrounding your company to ensure higher talent acquisition and retention. It’s how you market your company to job seekers and make sure your current employees feel satisfied and loyal to your brand.
Why Do I Need An Employee Branding Strategy?
For better or worse, information spreads like wildfire in the age of social media. That’s why it’s never been more important to uphold a strong reputation, both on and offline.
Think of it this way: if the wrong message gets out about your business, there’s very little you can do to contain the information — the metaphorical wildfire — from spreading. You have to wait for the flames to taper down before you can pick up the pieces and begin damage control. But proactively managing your employee branding strategy will keep wildfires from exploding online and lead to a healthier work culture overall.
Upholding a strong employee brand is about more than image. It’s also about your bottom line.
Thirty-four percent of candidates are checking your brand’s reputation on LinkedIn. They’re seeking customer reviews and news articles about your business. They might even reach out to your current employees for their opinions on working at your company. The best talent out there isn’t going for companies that don’t have a strong employee brand. Nearly 70 percent of job seekers would reject a job offer if the company’s branding is less than ideal or nonexistent.
Here are other good reasons why your business needs a strong employee branding strategy.
- Strong employee branding enhances loyalty. Employees feel stronger brand loyalty when their employer’s mission and values align with their own. Creating your own employee branding strategy allows you to clearly communicate your mission and values.
- Employee branding ensures consistency, and consistency empowers trust. Trust is the foundation of any credible brand and is a crucial component to company culture. It’s also vital for attracting top talent.
- A strong, cohesive brand leads to more satisfied employees. Employees who feel connected to their employer’s brand are generally more productive and engaged, leading to better customer service and output levels
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of a great employee branding strategy, let’s learn how to create one.
How To Design A Stellar Employee Branding Strategy
Creating an employee branding strategy will take time and energy, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s how to do it.
- Start by conducting a brand audit.
Before you can begin with your strategy, you should have a good understanding of your brand’s current standing. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities? You can find out by sending internal surveys to employees, conducting social media searches, reading reviews on sites like Glassdoor, or even hiring a firm that administers reputation monitoring.
- Craft an employee value proposition once you’ve finished your audit.
Use this as an opportunity to highlight your brand’s unique selling points. Ask yourself: what can you offer your employees that others can’t? Why should prospective talent choose your company over the competition? What are employees rewarded with in exchange for their work at your organization?
- Leverage your current employees by creating an employee brand ambassador program.
Each of your employees helps shape your brand reputation. Recruiting your employees to become stewards of your brand — better known as brand ambassadors — can help further your company’s reach.
Most of your employees have LinkedIn, for example. Some might reach hundreds, if not thousands, of people online. Take advantage of their networks and expand brand visibility by encouraging them to share and discuss relevant company updates and insights. Better yet, have your sales and/or marketing team consistently provide lead magnets, like articles and e-books, that employees can share on social media.
You can also leverage your employees’ creative talent. Recruit some of them to star in testimonial videos. Encourage them to share those videos across their networks to attract top talent.
You can go the extra mile by creating incentives for employee referrals. Suppose your sales manager refers a job candidate to the company, for example. In that case, you might offer her a meaningful corporate gift or reward that encourages the continuation of referrals.
And don’t forget to engage the ideas and suggestions of your employees. Find the natural leaders in your company and ask for input on what a successful brand ambassador program would look like.
- Create swag that employees actually want to wear to promote your brand.
Again, this is an excellent opportunity to gather some input from your employees. Maybe you’ve been planning to create custom lanyards for your company, but your employees would be happier with a branded thermos or sweatshirt. Take their opinions into account so they’re eager to promote the brand.
- Offer continuous learning and development opportunities.
Top performers will continuously look for opportunities to develop in their careers. If their employer doesn’t give them learning and development resources, they’ll begin to take upskilling into their own hands. But that doesn’t bode well for the employer — most employees seek opportunities elsewhere if they feel their company isn’t supporting their L&D.
Providing on-demand learning resources builds a strong culture of continuous learning and boosts your reputation; you’ll be regarded as an employer who cares about the success of your employees.
- Demonstrate steadfast commitment to Diversity and Inclusion.
You’ll have to walk the walk to build a strong employee brand. Demonstrating a continuous commitment to Diversity and Inclusion initiatives will boost your company’s reputation and invite and encourage diverse applicants who can bring new ideas and skills to the table. Ultimately, this strengthens your company’s performance and culture as a whole.
While designing a stunning website and adhering to copy guidelines are admirable feats, branding encompasses much more. A holistic strategy will include employee branding tactics to bolster your culture, retention, and performance overall. Remember, satisfied employees are the ultimate performance drivers — so don’t skip out on this crucial branding component.
There’s some overlap between the two, but the key difference is that employee branding focuses on the experience employees have with your company. Employee branding is informed by your employees’ enthusiasm, advocacy, and genuine willingness to represent your brand. Employer branding, on the other hand, is typically driven by higher-level management and reinforces the direction of the brand’s mission and values.
According to Gartner, there are five key components to creating a successful employee value proposition. Organizations with strong employee brands can offer their employees:
- Genuine connections that help employees feel understood by strengthening their family and community connections, not just work relationships.
- Flexibility that empowers to feel autonomous by providing flexibility on all aspects of work, not just when and where they work.
- Personal growth and development resources, ensuring that employees feel valued by helping them grow as people, not just as professionals.
- Holistic well-being to reinforce that employees feel cared for by ensuring they actually use holistic well-being offerings, not just make them available.
- Shared purpose and values, to make sure employees feel invested in the organization by championing action by the organization on societal and cultural issues.
That depends on the kind of candidates you’re trying to attract. Utilize relevant social media outlets and other channels where your ideal candidate is likely already active. For instance, a company looking to hire a social media video editor might consider creating TikTok videos. On the other hand, an organization searching for a senior finance consultant may be more successful posting on LinkedIn or relevant Facebook groups.
Cecilia Seiter is a content marketer, copywriter, and author at Alloy. She is passionate about the creation of meaningful, fulfilling, and sustainable work cultures.