Human Resources Today

Developing an employer brand isn’t easy. It takes buy-in, time, effort, and financial resources to build, and then activate, a sustainable employer brand strategy. A successful employer brand architecture is most often composed by several essential components:

  • Employer value proposition (EVP): based on workforce research, it’s what employees value the most about working at your organization

  • Employer brand position: how you differentiate and position your brand in the market, as compared to key talent competitors

  • Employer brand pillars: foundational themes of your employer brand (based on workforce research) that define the core of your organization’s unique employment experience

  • Employer brand personality: set of characteristics that help your brand become relatable to your target audience(s)

  • Employer brand line: a succinct, powerful one-line statement that summarizes your employer brand and offers a call to action

  • Employer brand key messaging: strategy to align your content to your workforce research, pillars, and brand line in order to tell your authentic employer brand story

  • Employer brand creative identity: how you bring your employer brand to life visually to communicate the employment experience, while differentiating your organization


Whew! Who knew there is so much that goes into a sustainable employer brand? Often times, the employer brand is developed by a core team of HR, Marketing, and/or Internal Communications leaders. They know the components of the brand architecture. However, employer brand activation often becomes the “day job” of recruiters and employees across various disciplines, locations, and levels.

So, how can they best learn it, embrace it, and activate it?

TIP #1: WRITE THE GUIDELINES

Ensuring brand consistency is key to brand adoption and loyalty. Start by defining the purpose of your employer brand, in particular, the pillars and brandline (which are often the most highly visible outputs of the employer brand architecture). As a leadership team, ask yourselves:

  • How should it be used?

  • How should it not be used?

  • Can other departments or programs use the employer brand? For example, can the fundraising team use it to solicit donor funds?

  • Can a new product team use it to launch a product?

  • Can non-employment experience related initiatives piggy back on the brand intended to communicate to employees and candidates?

Setting the guardrails and guidelines from the beginning is key. As with many corporate brands, creating and adhering to a set or guide of employer brand standards is a tangible way to educate employees.

TIP #2: EDUCATE YOUR TEAMS

In addition to setting up guidelines, insist on scheduling initial and ongoing training opportunities for anyone who has responsibility for communicating on behalf of your employer brand. This will often include your executive team, internal communications, hiring managers, recruiters, recruitment agencies, and your creative partners. People need to be educated on the language, purpose, nuances, and expectations, of your employer brand. You can’t hold someone accountable for delivering on your brand if you haven’t done the right thing by bringing them along on the journey.

TIP #3: ESTABLISH A PROCESS

With Marketing and Communications teams, there is typically a buttoned-up approval process before any content or creative goes out the door. It includes multiple approvers to check and double check the work. It establishes accountability and ensures “sign off” from colleagues who know the brand, inside and out. The same process should apply to employer brand communications and related-recruitment marketing materials.

TIP #4: BUILD A TOOLKIT  

One of the recommended ways to keep teams “on brand” is to put the right tools in their toolbox. Having a toolkit of ready-made templates, how-to guides, and creative assets that are easily accessible is a great place to start. And, it’s scalable. As your brand matures and more resources are added, you can add to the toolkit. Consider developing an Intranet page or brand-sharing portal that includes:

  • corporate brand standards,

  • employer brand guidelines,

  • approved key messaging,

  • job posting templates,

  • an “about us” boilerplate,

  • editable social media soundbites,

  • approved photos, logos, and images, and

  • how-to guides on videos, LinkedIn profile, etc.


Once the guidelines, training, and approval process are established and underway … it’s up to you, the employer brand leader, to be so good at your job that people will want to partner with you and won’t be enticed to go rogue. (<—Click to tweet!)  Offer ongoing training to new hires and a feedback loop. If something isn’t approved, guide and help people understand the why. Remind them about the toolkit! Part of being an exceptional brand manager means coaching your colleagues, anticipating their needs, and providing content they need and want to use.

If you liked this post, check out this: Making the Shift from Employer Brand Launch to Management


Shannon Smedstad (@shannonsmedstad) is an Engagement Director and Principal Employer Brand Strategist for exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting, and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research, and recruitment strategy offerings.

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