When it comes to communicating your brand outwards, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
In the words of Jeff Bezos, ‘your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room’ – and that applies to your customers, your industry peers and most importantly, your team. This is because your team can turn customers and peers into brand advocates, and brand advocates into future team members. It’s the ciiiirrcccllleee, circle of employer-brand-liiife…
So, what exactly is an employer brand?
Employer brand is where HR, branding and marketing all come together. It takes the building blocks of your brand – your vision, values and culture – then flips them inside-out (or should we say, outside-in). Essentially, it’s a way of communicating your brand in a way that’s relevant to your current and potential employees.
This includes looking into current brand perception, creating your employer brand (including your employer value proposition, benefits, messaging etc.) and communicating it both internally to your team, and externally to your potential future employees. But communication is just one part of employer brand, the biggest (and most important) chunk is how it’s actioned as part of your internal operations and culture, and how this has changed overall brand perception in comparison to what it was beforehand. In other words, if you’re going to talk the employer brand talk, you’ve got to walk the employer brand walk too.
Why is it important?
When it comes to brands, people aren’t just looking at product and prices, they’re looking at values, social responsibility and essentially, what that brand says about them if they become a customer or an advocate. Working for a brand is probably the biggest seal of approval a person can give, so it’s no wonder people are considering how their workplace not only treats them, but how it also ties in with their core values and beliefs.
So what does this mean for a brand? Well apart from the fact that it’s nice to be nice to everyone, the benefits of an engaged team to a business are ten-fold. First of all, the recruitment process becomes a lot easier, because people want to be a part of the amazing culture you’ve built. Once you’ve bagged your perfect candidate, you want them to stick around, right? Having an employer brand that follows through on its promises and promotes an engaging company culture will inspire your team to work to the best of their ability for the good of your team, your customers and your brand as a whole. And even if someone moves on from your company, a great employee experience means that they’ll continue to be an advocate in the future, no matter where they go.
Here’s some brands that do it well…
Most people know Hootsuite from its social content scheduling tool, which was launched back in 2008 by their Founder, Ryan Holmes. Alongside a team of 7 people, they badgered away on the zero-revenue product for a year. In 2011, they went into something they call ‘hyper growth’ – today, with a team in the thousands and offices in over 10 countries, it’s pretty clear to see why.
With a growing team, Hootsuite have invested massively in their employer brand over the years, sharing their resources (including their employer brand playbook and manifesto) and becoming thought-leaders for their approach on building a company culture.
One of Hootsuite’s biggest platforms for showcasing their culture is through their team. User-generated content isn’t just encouraged, it’s an integral part of their brand (they are a social media company after all). Just search #HootsuiteLife and you’ll catch a glimpse of their employer brand in action.
Zappos, an online footwear and clothing store based in Las Vegas, are known for their customer service – and where does great customer service come from? You get the gist. For this reason, Zappos are a poster-brand for employer branding – continuously ranked as one of the best places to work, they don’t just practice what they preach, they set the bar across all industries (so much so, they’ve set up Zappos Insights to share all their employer brand know-how with the masses).
Where they’ve nailed it is in the balance between perks and stability. Sure, you can get free food, drinks and snacks, which is awesome, but they also go above and beyond when it comes to things like health insurance and their maternity/paternity policy. Because of this, Zappos have no issues when it comes to recruiting, to the point that they’ve actually stopped posting job ads altogether, instead relying on word of mouth and employee referrals. See what’s going on with the Zappos family on their Inside Zappos Instagram account.
Microsoft might not always be perceived as “glossy” as fellow tech giants Apple or Google, but they’re paving the way for employer branding. They redesigned their careers site as a content-hub for potential and current employees, going beyond a jobs list and including information on their mission and culture, their teams and interview tips. They even developed a jobs blog, featuring inside stories, outside views and general job talk.
For them, inclusivity is what they live by, in fact – it’s literally written all over the walls. Microsoft go out of their way to give equal opportunities to everyone, because for them, individuality is what makes people awesome (we couldn’t agree more). Here’s what Joey, a Data Scientist in Microsoft Worldwide Solutions had to say:
“I love the fact that it’s an inclusive culture and that inclusion is written all over the elevators and all over the walls.You’re going to come here, you’re going to try things, you’re going to experiment. Some of the experiments won’t work out, but it’s OK because the end goal is for you to learn and develop and make great stuff.”
All of these companies are successful in their own right and span across different industries – but the one thing they have in common is their approach and dedication to putting their team first. With an employer brand, businesses are taking their brand values and bringing them to life in a way that motivates their team to live and breathe those brand values in everything they do.
As part of an employer brand project, we take your brand and turn it outside-in, working collaboratively with your HR and leadership teams to help you create and communicate your brand in a way that attracts and inspires the people who make it all possible, your team. Here’s how we can help you make that happen.