This week, Hibob hosted a webinar lead by Dave Hazlehurst, employer brand strategist and director at Ph.Creative, an employer branding agency that works with companies all over the globe. He took us through the stages his company uses when working with organizations to build a robust and attractive employee brand proposition.

Company employer brand vs. customer-facing brand

First up, it’s important to get clear on the difference between your customer-facing branding and your employee-facing branding:

  • The customer-facing brand: what you do and what you sell
  • Employer brand: who you are and how you make your employees feel with the experiences you create.

As an organization, if you’re struggling with retention, attraction, engagement and experience, it may be time to turn your focus to employer branding. How do we activate the employer brand to help with recruitment and engagement?

First, consider the opportunity cost if you don’t improve your retention and attraction rates. This equation demonstrates the lost revenue from vacant roles (which can help with stakeholder buy-in):

Each employer brand is unique, and is made up of the stories you and your employees tell about your company. But how do you uncover who you are and shape and turn it into an integrated employee value proposition?

The discovery and integration process may look something like this:

In particular, consider the idea that an employee value proposition involves a two-way give and take between employee and employer – what each gives and gets as a result of a strong employee brand identity.

5 steps for creating an employer brand

1. Determine

This step is about logistics and scope: speaking to the key stakeholders, outlining how this project will influence people internally and externally.

2. Discover

The biggest part of the employer brand puzzle is understanding ‘You’ the brand, and ‘Them’, the employee. As a rule of thumb, this is about 60% of the work when creating an employee brand, and starts with defining ‘you’ (the organization) and ‘them’ (employees, ex-employees and prospective employees).

How do you gather this information?

It’s important to gather both quantitative information  – surveys, internally sourced data – and qualitative information, for example, insights from focus groups, using the data sourced in the quantitative stage (the ‘what’) to direct the questions to focus groups, particularly talk to people to find out the ‘why’.

Who and How

There are a number of groups you might want to define and talk to in order to gather this information – from recent leavers to new starters, high performers, senior execs, and the external audience.

The specific groups you choose to focus on will depend on the business direction: for example, if the business is in a phase of transformation and growth, you might need to access more of the external audience to find out what their perceptions of your business are and learn how to attract top talent.

There are a huge variety of ways you can acquire the information you need:

  • Senior stakeholder workshop
  • Focus groups
  • Persona workshops
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Telephone and video interviews
  • Email surveys
  • Online competitor analysis

Reminder: a brand isn’t made up of a logo or pictures – it’s experiences and how people feel throughout the employee journey, from attraction to exit, and including rejected candidates.

Case study

What’s the one secret thing you wish people knew about working here? This is a key question to ask as part of the discovery journey. For example, tech employees at a large British retailer, Argos, revealed how good the technical capability in the organization was, and how proud they are of their own contributions to it. This team is now working on content placement that would reach a lookalike talent audience in the right digital locations.

3. Distill

Once you’ve acquired a good amount of data from a broad representation across your organisation, it’s time to start analyzing and grouping the kinds of stories and ideas and creating personas to get an insight into particular employee archetypes so that you can understand what drives and motivates them, along with their habits and key interests.

From there, boil down the employee value proposition into a single phrase that weaves together themes and stories of the organisation:

4. Develop

Now that you’ve got a thoroughly researched employee brand, create an employee branding toolkit to help the organization’s internal stakeholders build on the storytelling potential, particularly to attract specific personas and reach particular target markets. Some of the ways the toolkit will be used include:

  • Advertising for specific personas
  • Internal and external comms to bring and keep the brand alive
  • Experiential activations
  • Technical innovations
  • Culture and aspiration
  • Attracting and retaining talent
  • Employer brand amplification – ‘always on’
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Reward and recognition
  • Referrals and turning employees into advocates for the business
  • Training and development
  • Measuring impact
  • Career site with quality content that resonates and generates organic engagement and reach
  • Job descriptions

Case study

An online retailer was keen to attract women in digital, so created a video series featuring a fashion employee with the company, showing her career journey, including visiting Milan fashion week, giving a presentation, and interviewing the company’s leader about the company and her position within it. The final episode was a Facebook Live with a Q&A.

This serialized content shows the employee journey in a diverse and inclusive workplace and was designed to reach the persona by talking to them about their interests and values and delivering it in the right format and medium.

5. Diagnose

Measuring impact is the final step – importantly, the chosen metrics should be actionable deliverables, not just vanity metrics. The three main categories of impact are people, business, and customer.

After identifying the right metrics, create an OGSM model to simplify the strategies and goals around employer branding:

Thanks to Dave for sharing his expertise and everyone who joined us on the live webinar.


from Danielle Mizrachi

Danielle is a Marketing Manager at Hibob. She studied Business and Psychology and believes in the power of utilising behavioral insights to form great companies. She enjoys discovering what the future of work might look like, listening to podcasts, traveling, and hiking.