What is employer branding?

Employer brand is a term that has been thrown around a lot in recent years, especially in the world of recruitment marketing and talent acquisition. But what exactly is employer brand, and why is it important? 

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Employer brand is a term that has been thrown around a lot in recent years, especially in the world of recruitment marketing and talent acquisition. But what exactly is employer brand, and why is it important? 

Put simply, employer brand is the perception that people have of an organization as an employer. 

This perception is based on a range of factors, including the work environment, company culture, benefits, and the way that the organization treats its employees. In this post, we will explore all you need to know about employer brand.

Why is employer brand important?

Having a strong employer brand can be a huge advantage for organizations when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. 

Talent teams working with strong employer brands find it easier to reach their KPIs as these employer brands act as a magnetic force that draws candidates into their talent pipeline and increases their conversion rates throughout the process. Importantly, this drives a higher ROI for the budget allocated to talent attraction and helps reduce key metrics like cost per application and time to hire.

A positive employer brand can help to differentiate your organization from competitors in the same industry, and can help to attract passive candidates who are not actively looking for new opportunities. Rather than going out to market trying to draw candidates in when a new position is opened, candidates are actively queuing up to apply when they see a role listed.

In addition, a strong employer brand can help to improve employee satisfaction and retention, leading to increased productivity, better customer service, and ultimately, increased profitability. Employer branding efforts don’t just look at why people should apply to work there, but when executed effectively, they are also key to keeping it top of mind for current employees as to why they want to continue working there.

How do you build a strong employer brand?

Building a strong employer brand takes time and effort, and should be a key focus for any organization that is serious about recruiting and retaining top talent. Employer branding is year-round activity for talent teams, and can’t be turned on and off as hiring needs arise.

Strong employer brands are driven by reach and frequency with distinctive and memorable assets.

Let’s unpack that further.

Active and passive talent see countless job ads and pieces of content every day. Of all these potential touchpoints, only a fraction of them will actually earn their attention and an even smaller fraction will be remembered.

Reach and frequency is about getting your employer branding touchpoints in front of your target audience. “Out of sight, out of mind” could not be more true of prospective candidates, if you’re not in front of them regularly then you won’t be top of mind when they come to look for a new role.

However, just because your touchpoints have made it in front of your audience, there’s no guarantee they will pay any attention or remember it. This is where distinctive and memorable assets come into play.

Your employer branding and messaging must be distinctive. This means narrowing in on what it is that makes you truly unique as an employer. Listing the same hybrid work or wellness benefits as everyone else doesn’t differentiate your employer brand from everyone else and it’s likely you’ll be forgotten—or worse, reinforce the employer brand of someone else!

Once you have your differentiated employer brand, ensure that it is a memorable one too. This is where it’s important to get creative and think outside the box, to come up with messaging and imagery that will leave a lasting impression with your target audience.

Before you tackle your employer brand, it’s essential to define your employee value proposition (EVP), which is the unique combination of benefits, rewards, and career development opportunities that your organization offers to employees.

If you’re looking for guidance in creating your EVP, check out our complete guide to crafting an employer value proposition.

How can social media help to build an employer brand?

Historically, an employer brand was something that only really existed on the careers page of a website or would be brought out at a job fair. Today, talent teams have access to channels that enable them to connect with prospective candidates every day.

Social media has emerged as a powerful tool for building employer brand, as it provides a platform for organizations to showcase their culture, values, and employee experience to a wider audience. Even more so in recent years, employers have branched out beyond the “professional” confines of LinkedIn as talent pools have become more receptive to having their professional lives on traditionally “personal” platforms.

Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram can be used to share employee stories, promote job vacancies, and engage with potential candidates. However, it is important to ensure that your social media presence is authentic and reflects the true culture of your organization.

How can you measure the success of your employer brand?

Measuring the success of your employer brand can be challenging, as it is based on perceptions which can be difficult to quantify. A strong employer brand can certainly have a measurable, positive impact on key KPIs, however isolating and attributing this impact to employer brand is often very challenging.

It’s also important to note that employer brand is a long-term play. It’s better to look at indicators of employer brand success over periods of at least 12 months, rather than rolling out a 4-week campaign and then expecting to see a huge jump in KPIs at the end of that period.

However, there are a number of metrics that can be used to track the impact of employer brand initiatives, such as employee engagement scores, employee retention rates, and feedback from candidates about the recruitment process. In addition, surveys and focus groups can be used to gain more detailed insights into how your employer brand is perceived, both internally and externally.

How can you improve a weak employer brand?

If your organization has a weak employer brand, there are a number of steps that can be taken to improve it. 

First, start by reviewing the current state of your employer brand. As we looked at in building a strong employer brand, you will want to begin your analysis by looking at how well you execute the four keys to brand building:

Does your employer brand have a reach issue?

Look at your reach metrics, in particular ‘unique users’. Compared to the total size of your target audience, what percentage of unique users in this audience are you reaching with your content? If this is low, it could be that your distribution tactics aren’t working to get your content in front of the right people.

Does your employer brand have a frequency issue?

To diagnose a frequency issue you will want to look at metrics like views relative to unique users. It could be that you’re reaching a good percentage of your target audience but only getting in front of them once. A high ratio of views to unique users is a strong indicator of frequency.

Does your employer brand have an EVP issue?

This captures our last two tenets of a strong employer brand. A strong EVP will be both distinctive and memorable. These can be harder to measure through quantitative methods and will require more qualitative research to better understand. Consider surveying your own employees as well as candidates and prospective candidates to better understand their perceptions of your employer.

Once you have diagnosed the issue, you can start to address the source of the problem. Remedies could include redefining your EVP, identifying areas for improvement based on employee feedback, building a stronger online presence through social media and other channels, and aligning your recruitment and retention strategies with your employer brand.

In some cases, it may also be necessary to make changes to the work environment, company culture, or benefits packages in order to improve the overall perception of the organization as an employer. At the end of the day, if the reality of working at your organization doesn’t match up to the promises in your employer brand then no employer branding tactics will work to fix this issue.

Final thoughts

The state of talent has shifted markedly in the past decade. 

Employer brand is a crucial factor in attracting and retaining top talent, and should be a focus for any organization serious about building a successful workforce. It certainly is and has been a focus for leading employers across every industry.

In 2024, talent teams across the space turning their focus to employer brand and utilizing tools that empower them to elevate their employer branding content and compete with teams of greater size and with far more resources. 

If you’re looking to build your employer brand, get started today with Outhire's free employer branding analysis tool.

Amplify your employer brand in minutes!