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What is Employer Branding, and Why is it Important?

The world of work is changing, and the days of individuals selecting a company and spending their entire careers there are long gone. Candidates have become savvy consumers, viewing their careers not just as jobs but as lifestyle decisions. Job seekers, whether consciously or subconsciously, are asking themselves, “How will this job enrich my life?”

Welcome to the captivating realm of employer branding! Here, we not only aim to answer this question for candidates but also strive to deepen a broader sense of organizational identity for everyone, including existing employees.

In the dynamic landscape of the contemporary workforce, employer branding has emerged as a crucial element supporting differentiation, a strong sense of self, and magnetization for organizations aiming to attract, engage, and retain top talent. Let’s delve deeper into the fascinating world of employer branding, unraveling its significance and shedding light on why it has become a strategic imperative for businesses.

What is Employer Branding?

Employer branding is the organizational identity of an employer—it’s word on the street! Instead of leaving this to chance, world-class employers, big and small, are becoming more strategic and intentional about how they present themselves to the world and the key associations they wish to be made with them as a place of work. While we cannot control the brand outright, we can influence and support it with a solid vision, aligned people programs, and an experience that honors our brand promise.

We like to call this the “inner work” for organizations. Just as individuals benefit from self-reflection, goal setting, and intentionality around how to move through life, so too can employers. And the benefits can be far-reaching, fostering what we call a “cultural metamorphosis.”

The Importance of Employer Branding

Vision and Identity

The foundation of an employer brand is one’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Often, employer branding projects begin with the development of an EVP for an organization. This is critical as it is a springboard for all future people program development and messaging, bringing clarity to an organization’s people promise and crystallizing its unique “why.”

Look at it this way: The EVP is the band leader in a jam session. Imagine an employer without an EVP as a rock band where every musician is jamming independently, playing different riffs, and creating musical chaos. It’s like a band with no shared musical direction. Introduce an EVP, and it’s like a charismatic band leader, guiding the broader vision for the tune—culture, benefits, and messaging—bringing them together in a tight groove.

Without the EVP, it’s disorganized noise, where each element competes for attention, instead of a clear rhythm, a shared melody, and an understanding among all players. It can transform the workplace identity into a cohesive and collaborative jam, both internally and externally. The result is not just noise; it’s a harmonious and tightly woven anthem that resonates with the team and echoes out into the world, creating a memorable and impactful performance.

Let the Creative Inspiration Begin!

Once the EVP is established, meaningful creative development of messaging can begin. This helps align all communication channels, deepening key associations talent make with an employer. Instead of random thoughts and actions, employers stand confidently knowing their “why” and sharing their story in a clear and consistent fashion while also doubling down on people programs that honor this “why.”

Not only does this bring clarity to talent both internally and externally, but it can also bring precision to one’s budgetary philosophy. Rather than chasing shiny objects, there is a vision for the employee experience and a roadmap on how to get there.

Signals to Attract Top Talent

An employer brand is a magnet. It signals to talent who you are as an employer. Great brands both attract and repel by design. They are strategically crafted to help optimize the recruitment funnel, intensifying interest in those who would thrive at the organization and repelling those who would be better suited elsewhere. This is what a great candidate experience is all about. Don’t sell an illusion or try to be all things to everybody. Use your employer brand as a communication vehicle to draw in the right talent for your organization.

Employee Identity, Retention, and Pride

We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and employer branding can be that conduit. When employees are part of this work and co-create this shared identity that factors in the mission of the organization, its values, and behavioral norms—essentially how you uniquely roll—you come out the other side motivated and more closely aligned to realize the broader organizational vision.

This is not an overnight transformation. This work is strategic and requires a genuine belief that how we show up in the world matters. When employees resonate with the company’s “why,” factoring in its values, they feel part of a collective mission, thus part of something bigger than themselves. Employer branding helps wrap up programs, people, experiences, opportunities, etc., into a unique identity, helping employers move from just another generic paycheck to a distinct career experience.

Awareness and Reputational Wins

A positive employer brand doesn’t just benefit internal stakeholders; it also contributes to an enhanced overall organizational reputation. In fact, we often say that embarking on an employer branding project is an exercise in organizational self-discovery. When we find ourselves, we help others find us.

This work can also be the catalyst for positive change. If you are dissatisfied with where your organization is at presently, embarking on such a project can bring clarity to the current state as well as your aspirational culture. This is the starting point for a better tomorrow. It’s impossible to get to a better place without this critical self-reflection. A strong employer brand can positively influence customers, investors, and other external partners, creating a ripple effect of positive perceptions.

Cost Savings

A well-established employer brand can lead to cost savings, as it helps cultivate a pull strategy. Rather than only chasing talent, draw them in. Additionally, rather than always following the competition, find you, own it, and invest in what truly matters to your team. This too can create laser focus on what your organization invests in.

Strategies for Building a Strong Employer Brand

Define Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Clearly articulate what sets your organization apart as an employer. Highlight the unique benefits and opportunities that employees can expect. Conceptualize this work in a creative way.

Need a hand with the development of your employee value proposition (EVP)? Check out our Brand Foundations Program. This full-service end-to-end employer branding project not only lays the foundation for one’s employer brand but also skills up the team simultaneously. Click here to learn more.

Images of employer branding project, the brand foundations program

A Co-Created Philosophy

At Powerhouse, we believe in a co-created people philosophy, including when shaping one’s employer brand. To find the genuine attraction and retention drivers that exist for your organization, bring the team into this work. From focus groups to real employee images, from testimonials to testing messaging, embarking on this work shoulder-to-shoulder with your team can produce an outcome with far greater authenticity and an increased likelihood of adoption and advocacy downstream.

You can read more about this co-created approach to one’s people strategy in our book Peace, Love, & Meaningful Careers.

Workplace culture book

Share Your Story

At Powerhouse we often say that great employer branding is not stock images and corporate speak, but rather providing a window into the employee experience. This can be done by leveraging the team and numerous free communication channels including social media to help share your story and broaden awareness. Not only does this help perspective talent enter the recruitment funnel but often the act of storytelling serves as a point of connection and unity for the existing team especially in situations where there is a distributed workforce.

Employer branding is not just the hot buzzword, it’s a must do and a strategic necessity in today’s competitive talent landscape. By investing time, energy, and resources into one’s employer brand, organizations can better distinguish themselves, share their story in a more consistent fashion, and ignite employee pride helping to turn disparate music notes into that rock anthem that folks can’t help but to sing along with!

Don’t be shy or settle for vanilla, find your voice together with your team, design an experience and identity that you can be proud of, honour it throughout the employee lifecycle, and play that anthem loud! Make some noise!