Developing an effective employer brand

Jan 12, 2018 | Attraction & marketing

Grahame Jones and the team at Soukias Jones Design recently designed a new brand identity for the ISE. With over 20 years’ experience in branding, Grahame provides a useful guide to developing an employer brand.

Positioning the ISE as a credible, authoritative and progressive member organisation for those responsible for attracting and developing new talent was a key driver in shaping its brand identity. Like most organisations, how ISE positions itself is a key influencer on shaping opinion and influencing behaviour.

Making ISE appealing and distinctive is central to most branding exercises. So too is relevancy and authenticity. These are pillars for building an employer brand.

Developing an employer brand is complex, attracting and retaining good talent is multifaceted. Communications internally and externally play their part. Attracting talent depends on good communications, good branding. So, what does it take?

Be relevant at all times

We live in fast moving times. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube have taken hold, and companies are trying to figure out how to modernise their brands for the mobile and digital world. What worked in the early 2000s probably won’t fit the bill anymore. But what you stand for, what you believe, is a constant. How you interpret it and make it relevant has to change for today.

There has also been a transition away from ‘why do you want to work for me’, to ‘let me help you understand us’. Amid competing claims and an increasingly connected world, more than ever do we need to put ourselves in the shoes of our audiences. Doing so will provide the signposts for how we respond to them. 

Empowering Gen Z with the knowledge to help them decide if the fit is right for their plans and aspirations is a key to attraction. With five generations working together simultaneously, it’s even more important to understand where everyone’s coming from to remain relevant and appealing.

Use storytelling for authenticity

Key to the employer brand is authenticity. And that’s one quality you can’t fake. To attract and engage top talent you have to commit to representing your company and values truthfully. Nothing kills a reputation or talent pool quicker than false claims and broken promises. That’s why it’s vital that your employees sit at the heart of your employer brand strategy.

Storytelling by employees is a good technique. They help to connect with our emotional intelligence; they are a powerful tool to persuade and create impact. Research from Standard University found that stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.

Dig deep, be bold to be distinct 

There are two sides to this – visual and verbal. We live in a media and design savvy world, even the most conservative of lawyers and engineers are exposed to creativity on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries – in how you say it, and where you say it, to get cut through with your messages. Find where your audiences live. What communities do they belong to? What platforms do they use? Without this, you can’t tell your story effectively.

You also must be distinctive with your content. Not only do we have to dig deep to find a unique proposition, but also you must evidence it. Storytelling is useful. ‘We are innovative’ and ‘we are committed to customer service’ are common claims made without any compelling proof. By combining hard facts with emotive language you can bring a story alive. Facts, observations, anecdotes and metaphors are useful ingredients.

Whether it’s finance or pharmaceuticals, shipping or law, every business has evidence of why it stands out above its competitors — and why it is right for the best talent. All it takes is a few extra ingredients sourced from your departments or groups — observations, anecdotes and metaphors — to elevate business facts into compelling stories.

In summary

With so much competition for the best talent, ensuring your employer brand is relevant, authentic, appealing and distinctive is key to winning your share. Storytelling and creativity play a big role.

Five top tips

#1 Research: understand your audiences – who are they, what they want, where they live – to give you the platform for planning ahead.

#2 Proposition: dig deep to find a compelling reason of why your employee brand is right for your audiences. Test it among staff to ensure it rings true.

#3 Positioning: ensure your personality is relevant to your intended targets; this will shape what you say and how you say it.

#4 Content: use storytelling to bring your content alive – facts, observations, anecdotes and metaphors.

#5 Creativity: be relevant and true to your positioning and personality, but don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. We live in a media savvy world where targets are inundated by creativity and brands!

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