Employer Branding

Employer Branding 101: How To Get It Right, With Examples

By Iterate Team

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

In this guide, we'll take a deep dive into what employer branding really means, why it's important for companies of all shapes and sizes, and how to get it right with some inspiring examples.

Employer branding is all about how the general public perceives your company as an employer. How do job seekers and existing employees view you? The answer to that question defines your employer brand.

When it comes to attracting and converting the best talent for your open roles, keeping employees happy for longer, and cultivating a glowing reputation among the workforce, you won’t go far without a strong employer brand.

In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into —

  • What employer branding really means
  • Why it’s mission critical for companies of all shapes and sizes
  • How to improve your own employer brand

And we’ll finish up with some inspiring examples of employer branding done right. Let’s dive in.

What is employer branding?

Your employer brand is how the public perceives your company as an employer. If people generally feel that you are a good company to work for, you have a positive employer brand. If they don’t feel that way, your employer brand needs some attention.

Make no mistake: you have an employer brand, whether you’ve invested time and energy into it or not. Every company does. As long as you’ve been hiring and managing employees, you’ve been building your employer brand. It’s an inevitable part of being an employer.

The good news is that just by being aware of your employer brand and its importance, you’re already on the right track. The (potentially) bad news is that there’s no quick or one-size-fits-all way to establish your employer brand as the type of company anyone would want to work for — you have to truly become that company over time.

That means:

Even if you’re already doing all the right things to be an employer that anyone would want to work for, you still have to find a way to authentically get the word out. To that end, you can showcase what makes you a great employer through your:

  • Careers page
  • Public business profiles (e.g., Glassdoor and The Org)
  • Social media accounts
  • Job descriptions
  • Employee-generated ratings and reviews
  • Company mission and values statements

You may be thinking that this whole employer branding thing sounds like a lot of work. Is it really worth the trouble?

The short answer is a resounding yes. Building a great reputation for your company is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make. And no one — not even the employer branding experts — expect it to happen overnight. Employer branding is a long game that looks different at every org.

Why employer branding is worth the time and effort

Employer branding has never been more critical for long-term growth. It’s like insurance for your employer reputation as you navigate any challenges that come your way — from the global pandemic and new ways of working, to ongoing economic uncertainty and reputational fallout from layoffs.

Even if you’re not hiring right now for any combination of reasons, you will be one day — and your employer brand is a boon for peak recruiting efficiency as soon as you’re ready to get back out there.

Here’s a rundown of the many benefits of employer branding:

1. It helps you hire better employees

The most talented professionals know they have options. When choosing whether to continue the search or accept your offer, candidates will take your employer brand into account and weigh it against your competitors’ brands.

If your competitors are winning the employer branding game, they’re probably going to scoop up the top talent, too. The numbers back this up — studies have shown that:

  • Companies with a strong employer brand receive applications from 50% more qualified candidates.
  • 75% of job seekers are more likely to apply for a job if the company actively manages its employer brand.
  • 86% of workers would not consider applying to (or continuing to work for) a company that has a bad reputation as an employer.
  • 69% of job seekers would reject a job offer from a company with a poor reputation.
  • 92% of people would consider changing jobs if they received an offer from a company with an excellent reputation.

2. It reduces hiring costs

Employer branding also helps employers acquire talent more efficiently. In fact, one study found that companies with a positive employer brand can cut their recruitment costs in half and hire employees twice as fast.

That can make all the difference for a company hoping to scale quickly. By letting your employer brand do the heavy lifting during the candidate experience, you’ll have more resources freed up to invest in other growth initiatives.

3. It turns every employee into a brand advocate

When you give your employees a good work experience, you also give them a reason to sing your praise. This matters, because job seekers feel that an employee’s perspective on a company is three times more credible than the CEO’s.

With a team of employee brand ambassadors to support you, you can expect better testimonials on Glassdoor and other employer review sites, and more quality job candidates sourced through employee referrals — both of which will organically strengthen your employer brand over time.

4. It creates a culture of productivity

Attracting and retaining high-quality employees will inevitably boost productivity at your company — workers who are proud of their company are always more motivated and engaged in the long term, and have an easier time ramping up to full productivity out of the gate.

Employer branding can also reduce employee turnover by 28%. By retaining more of your staff, you can avoid the loss of productivity when onboarding new employees.

How to build a positive employer brand

So far, we've established that the strength of your employer brand will impact the quality of your hires, the productivity of your existing staff, and the costs required to maintain a healthy employee base.

Now, let's dive into some simple ways you can take the reins and shape your employer brand for the better.

1. Conduct an employer brand audit

The first step to improving your employer brand is evaluating your current reputation. How does the workforce feel about you now? You can audit your employer brand by:

  • Reviewing major employer brand touchpoints like your careers page and social media profiles
  • Surveying your current employees
  • Reading employee testimonials
  • Asking job candidates what they’ve heard about you

Using these insights, you can gauge the strength of your brand and spot opportunities for improvement.

2. Establish an employer value proposition

An employer value proposition (or EVP) is an overview of the ways your company provides value to employees. This includes:

  • Salaries
  • Benefits packages
  • Office perks
  • Job satisfaction
  • Company culture
  • Work-life balance
  • Job security
  • Company policies

Your EVP is your company’s answer to the question, “Why should I work for you?” That answer should guide your employer branding strategy.

3. Cultivate a healthy company culture

Your company culture has a major impact on employee experience. Even if the pay is great, a toxic culture will always stifle job satisfaction.

Help team members connect with their colleagues. Create channels for workers to share their concerns. Educate staff on how they should engage with each other and resolve conflict.

In short, let everyone know that their well-being is central to your business strategy — and take the necessary actions to back it up. When employees see that your actions match your words, they’ll be well on their way to becoming ambassadors for your employer brand.

4. Get the onboarding process right

First impressions are important. The onboarding stage is your opportunity to equip employees with the organizational knowledge they need to put their best foot forward — but learning the ropes, and getting acquainted with a new team and set of responsibilities all take time. Getting new hires excited about their roles is mission critical at this stage, and a transparent onboarding process with practical resources like a company org chart can help you do that.

Giving new joiners a visual layout of the whole company shows them how their role and team fit into the bigger picture. Without visibility into their impact early on in their employment with you, new joiners might find themselves unmotivated as soon as onboarding ends and the initial excitement of a new job wears off.

By offering new employees the support, context, and big picture vision they need to make an impact from the get go, you’ll see an uptick in your retention rate — and increase the odds that your staff will advocate for your employer brand down the line.

5. Set employees up for growth

Talented workers want a fulfilling career. That means employers must help them develop their skills and advance their careers in order to earn their loyalty. According to a Pew Research Center study, lack of advancement opportunities is tied with low pay as the number one reason employees leave their jobs.

By showing job candidates how your company will help them achieve their long-term goals, you can give them a reason to join your team and stick around.

6. Make your people the voice of your employer brand

As you improve the employee experience at your company, you’ll have more good news to show off. Update your branding materials to reflect the great work you’ve done to become a better employer. Remember to use employee-generated content, such as testimonials, as much as you can to add a healthy dose of social proof to your employer brand messaging.

At the end of the day, your current employees are the backbone of your employer brand — you should take every opportunity to let them show (not tell) why they chose you as their employer.

Great examples of employer branding

So, what does all of this look like when it's done right? Below are some examples of companies with employer brands we love —

1. Starbucks

Starbucks has invested heavily in building a strong employee community. For example, the coffee giant refers to every employee as a “partner” and goes the extra mile to make them feel valued.

Starbucks also runs dedicated social media accounts designed to promote their employer brand. Starbucks uses these accounts to:

  • Show off happy employees
  • Recognize the accomplishments of team members
  • Share inspiring employee stories
  • Highlight the perks of working for Starbucks
  • Establish the company’s values and goals
  • Invite job seekers to start their careers at Starbucks

Starbucks' employer brand shines on social media

2. HubSpot

HubSpot offers an extensive Culture Code establishing a vision for the company’s culture.

HubSpot describes it as: “part manifesto, part employee handbook and part diary of dreams.” This code covers topics like what defines their culture, and how their culture sets them apart from other employers.

It also lists the qualities HubSpot encourages in their staff. For example, the code states that:

  • “We are radically and uncomfortably transparent.”
  • “We give ourselves the autonomy to be awesome.”
  • “We speak the truth and face the facts.”
  • “We believe in work + life, not work vs. life.”

The code then explores every point in more detail to make HubSpot’s philosophy clear for everyone. This gives job seekers a better idea of whether they would be a good fit and helps existing employees understand their roles.

3. Wistia

Wistia is a video software company that helps other companies market themselves and build their brands. It stands to reason that they're conscious of their own branding strategies — and their employer brand is no exception.

The opening pitch of Wistia’s careers page sets the tone right away:

Wistia is an example of great employer brand messaging on the careers page

Rather than bragging about what a great company they are, Wistia focuses on the job seeker’s goals. That focus continues throughout the careers page as Wistia lays out their employee value proposition in detail.

4. SoulCycle

SoulCycle offers in-person and virtual spin classes to help customers stay in shape. SoulCycle has built a strong employer brand through the many benefits and perks they offer their employees, such as:

  • Paid days off to volunteer at a charity of the employee’s choice
  • Unlimited free spin classes
  • Additional fitness discounts
  • Employee resource groups where like-minded team members can share their experiences and encourage each other

SoulCycle makes employee resource groups (ERGs) a big part of their employer brand

SoulCycle has made it clear that they aim to give their employees a good reason to keep riding.

5. Canva

Canva, an online design and publishing platform, goes the extra mile to connect with job seekers. While most companies have a careers page, Canva has a full careers website.

On the Life at Canva site, job seekers can find information on every aspect of the Canva employer brand, with entire pages dedicated to topics like:

  • Culture and benefits
  • Employee success stories
  • Career pathways
  • Canva’s hiring process

…to name just a few. Making vital information like this available to job seekers is a great way to make sure your company leaves an impression as transparent and accessible — not confusing or opaque.

6. Eventbrite

Eventbrite is a global events platform, and they also have a full website dedicated to their employer brand. But the real key to Eventbrite’s glowing reputation is their willingness to adapt to the needs of their employees — or Britelings, as the company affectionately refers to their staff.

During the global pandemic, Eventbrite’s employees expressed a desire for more flexibility and empowerment. Eventbrite didn’t ignore them or shut them down. Instead, they overhauled their workplace philosophy.

When offices reopened, they gave employees three options to choose from:

  • Work four to five days per week in an Eventbrite hub office
  • Combine remote and in-office work, going to an office one to three days per week
  • Work fully remotely (if possible for that employee’s role)

As Eventbrite says on their website: “You’re invited to decide what’s best for you.” With that kind of EVP, it’s no wonder Eventbrite’s employee reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

Employer branding supercharges hiring in every industry

In a rapidly changing talent acquisition landscape, the savviest companies are the ones who embrace change and take every opportunity to exceed the workforce's expectations.

Employer branding is quickly becoming the industry standard for hiring and retaining top talent, but make no mistake — it's so much more than a passing trend or buzzword.

Armed with these tips, you can get started on your own employer branding initiatives and put your company on the path to long-term growth.

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