Many companies spend a lot of time thinking about how their brand can appeal to their customers. How should it look? What should it sound like? What makes it different than everybody else? That’s good–customer-facing brand is important!
But as a brand, that’s only half the story you’re telling.
External brand drives revenue and builds audiences, yes, but companies who lead their category, crush their goals and recruit the best people likely have another branding tool to help them stay relevant: the employer brand.
“If your culture and brand are mismatched, you can end up with happy, productive employees who produce the wrong results.”
-Denise Lee Yohn, Harvard Business Review
Making an impact from the inside out.
We often hear clients say that they’re the best because they have the best people. After all, your employees are responsible for bringing your company’s mission to life. They develop products, help customers, solve problems and generate new ideas. Employees directly create and maintain your customer experience. But whether you have twenty employees or 20,000, hiring the “best” and getting them to stick around is no small task.
By developing an internal brand, you can recruit stronger candidates, keep them engaged and begin to bridge the gap between what employees and customers experience. When both sides of your brand have meaning, we call it “brand alignment.” An employer brand is the missing piece most companies overlook.
According to John Timmerman and Stephen Shields at global analytics firm, Gallup, “When it comes to human capital, it’s perplexing that companies will use far less sophisticated methods for selecting employees than they do for almost anything else. Companies will spend fortunes on facilities, technologies, and advertising, but they often have no idea what kind of employee is best able to deliver the brand promise.”
How to build your employer brand.
Employer branding is based on how employees and candidates perceive your company as a place to work. That perception is largely formed by your actions—you can’t directly control what people think, but you can control what you say and do. This strategy helps you develop a framework to clarify your intentions as an employer and then act based upon those beliefs.
The framework is called an employer value proposition, or EVP.
An EVP is made of two parts:
1. Core positioning.
2. Core pillars.
1. Core positioning
Your core positioning communicates, at a high level, what you’re all about as an employer. It aligns with your external brand in its tone and mission, but it speaks directly to your employees’ wants and needs. It’s credible, because it incorporates the qualities you embody today, but it’s also aspirational, because it reveals your hopes for the future.
By balancing the here-and-now with what’s to come, your core positioning gives employees permission to get invested in results they can help shape. That kind of transparency levels the playing field and empowers everyone to take part in something greater.
Your core position might be shared with employees directly, or it might stay behind-the-scenes, informing the actions of your company and leadership team.
2. Core pillars
The second part of your EVP supports the core positioning by further clarifying the employment deal: what employees can expect from their employer and what’s expected of them in return. If these sound like core values, you’re on the right track. It’s important that the pillars reflect the traits your company believes in. The difference is that pillars go much deeper than a list of words.
Core pillars explain:
• Why your company does things the way you do.
• Specific examples of how it’s done.
• Ways employees can get involved.
Think of values as the building blocks of a shared mindset and EVP pillars as the guide to putting that mindset into practice.
Bringing both sides of your brand together.
Intentionally creating a connection between your internal and external brands creates brand alignment. With a cohesive brand experience across employees and customers, you take control of your reputation. Eventually, you’ll spend less time thinking about how to appeal to customers and more time enjoying the results that come from reaching an audience that appreciates what you do.