Six elements of a successful employer brand
3 December 2019

Six elements of a successful employer brand

Every organisation has an employer brand – it’s up to HR teams to craft and define it to reflect the true company culture and ensure it resonates with potential applicants


Ciphr editorial

Ciphr editorial

Ciphr editorial posts articles that have been written or contributed to by Ciphr's in-house team of writers, who are experts in a range of HR and L&D topics, from recruitment and onboarding to performance management, payroll, and employee experience, as well as HR software and HR systems.


Recruitment and retention Strategy culture and values


Every organisation has an employer brand – it’s up to HR teams to craft and define it to reflect the true company culture and ensure it resonates with potential applicants

Whether you’ve created it or not, your organisation has an employer brand: a combination of the attributes, values and culture that make it different from other employers. A successful, carefully designed employer brand will help your organisation hire, retain and engage with the right talent. Poor employer brands – which are often the result of market or candidate perceptions, rather than being created by the employer itself – will do just the opposite.

In fact, according to research by the Corporate Leadership Council, a well-designed and executed employee value proposition (EVP) can help to improve new hires’ commitment by up to 29%, and increase the likelihood of employees acting as advocates by 23 percentage points.

Here are six elements that you need to consider in order to craft a successful employer brand. 

1. Get a clear understanding of your existing employer brand first

Before you reinvent your employer brand, you need to get a clear and realistic understanding of your existing brand, the challenges it presents, and the areas that you need to improve. To do this, gather evidence and information from candidates, new hires and existing employees through surveys, informal meetings and exit interviews. 

2. Create clear values and a company mission – and communicate it

One element that your employer brand might fall down on is clarity of organisational vision and mission. It might be that your vision and mission haven’t been revamped in line with significant changes to the business and its objectives, or that it’s been poorly communicated and isn’t part of day-to-day conversations, such as interviews and appraisals. Consult with your people about what they believe your values and mission are and should be, and collect this feedback from as wide a group of people as possible. HR should turn to its marketing colleagues for support in distilling this information and crafting an appropriate values and mission statement, and for help sharing it with employees. But HR will have to lead the way in embedding these values into people processes, such as by assessing behaviours and values as part of your performance management strategy.

Read next: The ultimate guide to employer branding strategy

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3. Define EVPs for different candidate/employee groups

Your EVP should comprise clear values, behaviours and promises. As the CIPD says in its employer branding factsheet: “the EVP describes what an organisation stands for, requires and offers as an employer.”

Every individual in the workplace is different, so its unlikely that a one-size-fits-all approach to your EVP will be a success with every candidate you come into contact with. Adds the CIPD: “Employees… are not a homogenous group. It can be beneficial to tailor the ‘deal’ or value proposition to the needs of a diverse workforce – and this can mean emphasising different elements of the value proposition to different groups, or creating subsets of the overall value proposition.”

So think about your target candidate groups: apprenticeships, graduates, overseas workers, and people returning to work after a career break might be common ones. For each of these groups, which of your organisational values, behaviours and promises will resonate most closely with them? Would you want to emphasise career progression opportunities when talking to potential apprentices and university leavers, and flexible working opportunities and pension contributions when targeting people returning to work after a career break, for example? Reward and benefits packages could play a crucial role here in setting your organisation apart from the competition. Define, test and refine your messaging, tone of voice and even the graphics you use in relation to each of your target groups; feedback from your existing employees should give you an insight into what works and what doesn’t.


4. Gain external recognition for your efforts

If you’re doing good work, don’t be afraid to get some recognition for it: jobhunters may well be more inclined to apply for a new role at an organisation they come across before – either because they’ve used their product; seen them mentioned on social media, in a magazine or on a news website; or spotted their name on a ‘best places to work for’ list.

So don’t be afraid to put your company forward – for local or national awards, ‘top companies’ lists, or to be featured in national, local or trade press titles. It’ll increase candidate awareness of what your organisation is all about, what’s it’s like to work there, and the goals that you’re collectively working towards.

Taking part in events is another great way to share your message: you could start small with local chamber of commerce events, for example, or dream big and get some of your senior experts of the industry speaking circuit, which will have the added benefit of establishing your organisation as an authority in its field.

Read next: 11 simple steps to improve your employer branding

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5. Tell your employees’ stories

Humans naturally respond well to genuine, authentic stories about and told by other humans, so take a page out of the social media influencer playbook and share stories about what it’s really like to work, succeed and develop at your organisation. If you have a company blog, use it to host articles by or interviews with people from across your organisation – from senior leaders to your most junior workers: everyone has an interesting story to tell. Your website should also feature genuine pictures and videos of your real workers as far as possible, particularly in its ‘careers’ or ‘about us’ area; stock photos and footage is easy to spot and may make people think less positively about your organisation.


6. Encourage social media advocacy

Now that you’ve crafted an employer brand that represents your organisation positively to target groups of candidates, and that is supported and embraced by your existing employees, you’ll want your people to start spreading the word about your company and culture. One of the best ways to do this is through social media advocacy, through networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and employer review websites such as Glassdoor. So encourage your people to share their stories and experiences of working at your organisation, and reshare them via your corporate channels. Be careful to ensure that stories are genuine and authentic, and that there is no incentive (or penalty) for people who voice their opinions.

This article was first published on 8 July 2016 as ‘7 elements companies can’t fake about their employer brand’. It was updated and republished in December 2019.