Employer Brand Testing, Testing, 1 … 2… 3

Have you ever thought about testing your employer brand? Validating it? 

Making sure it connects with the audience(s) for whom it’s intended? 

At exaqueo, our strategists stress that the most authentic, successful employer brands are not built in a boardroom. They are uncovered through deep workforce research and inspired by the true employment experience at all levels. After the research is complete and distilled into actionable insights, an employer brand strategy can be built. 

Often, what happens next is a series of internal socialization meetings with stakeholders to get alignment and buy-in. (The proverbial approvals from the higher-ups.) Most often these stakeholders are leaders from within Human Resources, Marketing, and Corporate Communications. Depending upon the culture and political nature of the organization, CEOs, CMOs, or other members of executive committees may be briefed in. 

But who’s missing from these stakeholder groups? 

The target audience. 

These days, there’s a lot of talk and interest in design thinking. An important step in the design thinking process is: TEST. This allows individuals to understand what works, what’s not working, and iterate based on data, not assumptions. Before launching an employer brand, whether locally, nationally, or globally, an often overlooked step is testing or validation of the messaging and creative. 

Do you remember the story about the Chevrolet Nova in Mexico? This classic business urban legend of the 1970s claims the Nova failed to sell because “Nova,” directly translated, means “no go.” To avoid an employer brand fail, it must connect with the right people. 


Depending upon the size, scope, and reach of your organization, there are a variety of approaches and audiences to consider when testing. If your organization has a truly global reach, consider testing within several regions or key markets. If your organization wants to attract and retain more tech talent, consider testing specifically with tech professionals, both inside and outside your organization. 

Recently, we’ve been working with a global entertainment company on their employer brand strategy. We’ve gone through ideation, creation, and refinement of creative messaging and concepts, and narrowed it down to the top contenders. Because of the importance and impact of this work, it was vital we test the messaging and creative in key talent markets. 

This particular client sources, recruits, and hires from more than 25 different countries. English-speaking countries. Non-English speaking countries. Developed countries. Developing countries. Ensuring the creative and messaging resonates and appeals across languages, borders, and cultural nuances is an important step not to be missed. 

Working with our Native Market Insights team, we tested and validated in countries such as South Africa, India, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Romania, and within the United States. We uncovered invaluable insights related to translations, imagery, gender diversity, and more—all inputs that will help further drive the strategic direction and localization of the employer brand.  


One of the biggest hurdles to testing the employer brand before going to market is time. There’s usually something happening inside the business that is prompting the work to be done—now. The other hurdle is cost. HR departments do not have the same budgets as their marketing counterparts. But, testing doesn’t have to cost a lot. 

And not testing could be more costly. 

One of the best ways to test and validate an employer brand is to host focus groups with employees, particularly those high performers you’d love to clone. If focus groups seem too laborious, have one-on-one conversations. Or, consider using a free, online survey tool where you can easily upload images, add a few pointed questions, and email the survey to select, engaged, high performing employees. (Employee resource groups, anyone?) 

Depending upon your talent and business priorities, other audiences to consider including are: new hires, campus hires and interns, industry-specific talent, recruiters, and hiring managers—with one caveat. Likely, these individuals have never been asked to review creative before. Bearing this in mind, before asking for their feedback and opinions, carve out some time to educate them on the purpose of the work and the type of feedback you’re looking for. 

The results of these low-cost methods will be invaluable to your brand. 

Often, an employer brand journey begins because something is driving the need. The blending of teams due to a merger and acquisition. The growth of an organization and a need for resources. The vision of a new leader and a desire to create a different type of culture. The transformation of a legacy organization into a more modern workplace. These are moments that matter. 

Moments of connection. 

Moments our people experience. 

Don’t miss the mark on truly connecting your employer brand with the people it’s intended to reach. 

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