The world’s most successful businesses give their customers two things: something they can’t live without and something they can’t get anywhere else.

Branding is all about shaping customer perceptions so that these two criteria are met. But the world’s most successful businesses didn’t get to where they are without a third, indispensable ingredient: a roster of rock-star talent to make it all happen.

How do the world’s best brands acquire the best talent? By strategically developing a strong employer brand. Employer branding shapes the perceptions of potential employees in the same way corporate branding shapes the perceptions of customers. And it’s just as important. Let’s take a look at how employer branding can help you attract top talent and grow your business.

What is Employer Branding?

How Employer Branding Can Grow Your Business | Ignyte Branding Agency
Employer branding is the process of shaping how a company is perceived by employees and potential employees. Not unlike its outwardly facing counterpart, a strong employer brand is inspired by purpose. Unlike its corporate brand, however, a company’s employer brand is largely defined by its internal culture.

So, how do employees and potential employees perceive your company? If it’s anything less than as an inspiring, respectful, purpose-driven place for them to give up more than forty hours of their life every week, you can benefit from employer branding.

A strong employer brand is the most effective way to attract the most motivated and talented folks from a competitive job pool. Employer branding can help ensure you are interviewing candidates that are aligned with your values and ready to deliver on your brand promise—employees that help foster customer trust and loyalty as spirited brand ambassadors.

For shortsighted companies, employee recruiting is seen as an opportunity to “out-fun” the competition. But foosball, beers on tap, catered lunches, and personal baristas won’t attract the type of employee who is looking to build a lasting career with a company that speaks to their values.

What to Consider When Building an Employer Brand

How Employer Branding Can Grow Your Business | Ignyte Branding Agency
Of course, salary and benefits are key attributes, but so is a defined career path, leadership training, paid education and flexible work options. These days simply having a purpose greater than just selling widgets can be a beacon of your employer brand.

With major corporations under constant scrutiny for their environmental impact, commitment to the community and displaying financial transparency, “doing the right thing” is a major draw for today’s top employees. In fact, a Cone Communications study found that:

  • 75 percent of millennials would take a pay-cut to work for a socially responsible company
  • 76 percent consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work
  • 64 percent wouldn’t even take a job if a potential employer didn’t have responsible financial practices.

Without a doubt, those numbers are compelling.

It goes without saying that happy employees are your brand’s best advocates. In fact, it’s your employees that can make or break your brand when it comes to boosting recruiting efforts and the engagement and retention of your current staff.

Online resources like Glassdoor have changed the game, offering a platform for employees to tell the world what they think about their current or former employer. Your company’s reputation matters more than ever and employer branding is one of the most powerful ways to manage that reputation.

Here’s some statistical proof about the power of Glassdoor and your employer brand from HR authority, SHRM:

  • 55 percent of job seekers who have read a negative review of a company have decided against applying for a job there.
  • 1 in 3 job seekers reported having shared at least one negative review of a previous or prospective employer.
  • Negative reputation costs companies at least 10% more per hire.

Opinions matter, and if you want your brand to stay strong, the opinions of your employees are critical.

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How to Build a Strong Employer Brand

How Employer Branding Can Grow Your Business | Ignyte Branding Agency
Every brand is unique, so there’s no set formula when it comes to a successful employer branding strategy. It all depends on your company goals and larger brand strategy.

As mentioned, your employer brand should align with your corporate brand. With this in mind, here are four steps you should take to achieve your employer branding objectives.

1. Understand Your Company

Revisit your company’s brand compass (purpose, vision, mission, values, etc.) Do they still align with your company objectives as a whole? More importantly, do you have the talent in place to deliver on those objectives?

2. Audit Your Employer Brand

How is your brand perceived by the labor market? How does your brand stack up to the competition? How is your brand perceived by your employees? Conduct internal and external research on the current state of your employer brand, or, better yet, work with a firm that specializes in brand audits. This will help you understand what you’re doing well already and where there’s an opportunity for improvement.

3. Define Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Create an EVP that defines the values of your brand and ensure it explains what makes your company unique. This particular value proposition is aimed directly at your employees so it should convey why your company is a great place to work and how it aligns with your corporate brand.

4. Build Employee Engagement

Your team is the lifeblood of your business and the frontline of customer engagement. Treat them as the important assets that they are. Use consistent language across all channels so that employees begin to know how to communicate about the company.

Empower your team to share their own ideas with leadership and present to the organization. Encourage employees to write reviews and promote the company on their social channels. Make sure your onboarding process is informed by your brand strategy and filled with tools and training new employees will need for success. Lastly, offer ongoing training and education for growth.

Attracting strong candidates is great, but keeping strong employees is arguably the most important goal of any employer brand.

Once you’ve established a foundation around these four steps, real employer branding begins to take shape.

Examples of Strong Employer Branding

How Employer Branding Can Grow Your Business | Ignyte Branding Agency
Key to employer branding is building a company culture inspired by your company’s values. At the end of the day, employees want to be appreciated in much the same way they’re taught to appreciate the customers they serve. By establishing a company culture driven by shared values, you can build an employer brand that employees feel they have a stake in.

Let’s have a look at two companies who make the “Top Places to Work” list year after year, but take different approaches to employer branding as evinced by their company cultures.

Patagonia

One of the world’s most recognized outdoors brands, Patagonia was founded on a rock-solid base of social, financial, and environmental responsibility. The company has amassed a cult-like following of customers who believe in their commitment to quality and conservation. These are the same attributes that attract top merchandisers, designers, and marketing professionals from around the globe to work at Patagonia.

Employees quickly become brand ambassadors inside and outside the company by taking advantage of leave-time for surfing and climbing trips and enjoying employee-first work-life balance benefits like on-site childcare, paid maternity and paternity leave, and free yoga.

Netflix

Binge-watching the latest must-see series is a way of life for most of us now. Capitalizing on the trend, Netflix evolved from the somewhat clunky business model of renting DVDs by mail to be the streaming platform of choice for North America and beyond.

Netflix employees are attracted to the company’s “family-focused” employer brand in the same way customers have flocked to the corporate brand for years. According to a 2016 article from Inguard, Netflix employees can return to work part- or full-time after parental leave, allocate salary earnings into Netflix stock options, and take advantage of a “dogs at work” policy.

As you can see, a successful employer brand is one that reflects your consumer-facing brand. A strong employer brand is one where employees can expect the same thing from a brand as its customers do. Here at Ignyte, our consumer-facing brand is centered on insight and thought leadership. Our methodology is data-driven and founded on research, and we strive to be thought leaders by providing informative articles on brands and branding.

When it comes to the Ignyte employer brand, we encourage our employees to boost their own insight and knowledge with paid educational and training opportunities. This not only helps them grow their skillsets and knowledge, it means they can deliver the best possible work for our clients, who expect a higher level of quality and service from our agency.

The Takeaway

Attracting and retaining the best employees is difficult in any market. In today’s increasingly competitive labor market, it’s especially challenging. One of the best ways to acquire talented individuals aligned with your company’s values is by investing in employer branding.

Building a strong employer brand by defining your employee value proposition (EVP), focusing on employee engagement, and being mindful of alignment with your corporate brand, will put your company in the best position to hire and retain the best talent possible.

The Ultimate Guide to Rebranding

Everything you need to know about rebranding your business-and avoiding costly mistakes.

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A prolific blogger, speaker, and columnist, Brian has two decades of experience in design and branding. He’s written for publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, HuffPost, and Brand Quarterly.