What the Best Employer Brands Get Right

May 2, 2016 at 12:00 PM by William Clarke

Employer Branding Header.pngSo, I've got something I need to tell you. Your organization has an employer brand, whether or not it is being maintained. And, believe it or not, unless you’re turning away dozens of talented, qualified people for every job opening, your organization could probably benefit from a strong employer brand.

Employer brand is the human side of your brand identity. It’s not about your products or your earnings or your logo. It’s about who you (collectively) are and what values your organization represents. Your employer brand will always be intertwined with your company culture. In fact, your employer brand is, in many ways, the public side of your company culture. You can’t really have one without the other.

Let’s take a look at how some companies create strong, sustainable employer brands. There’s one thing they all do really well: They focus on their people. Like most other aspects of recruiting and company culture, your employees are the most valuable asset you have when it comes to employer branding. If you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.

They Put Their People Front and Center

Building a product or service is important, but most people don’t go to work for a company because they are passionate about cloud storage or insurance or advertising technology. Instead, they work at places that share their values and support their passions and goals. This is especially true for Millennials, who now outnumber baby boomers. The most effective way to show that off is to highlight your colleagues and how they reflect and strengthen the values you prize as a organization. 

EvenbritePhoto.pngOnline ticketing company Eventbrite’s recruiting page is a great example. We always recommend including photos and tidbits from employees on your career page, but Eventbrite goes one better. Not only do they have fun photos of their entire recruiting team, but every photo links to longer, quirky bios from each recruiter. It’s a smart move because it shows how much they are valued as individuals and it does more to articulate a sense of value than any manifesto or written down company missions ever will.

They Know the Power of a Good Story

Get the attention of prospective employees by sharing compelling stories about your team, the work they’re doing and the bigger picture impact of that work on their community and even the world. One favorite example is a video series by two Google employees who spend their famed 20% time hanging out with other Googlers (or Alphabetters) working on cool projects. 

In other episodes, Nat and Lo talk to Googlers working to stop the illegal elephant ivory trade, the people working on machine learning, and a look at how traffic app Waze works. Nat and Lo’s video series is an exemplary case of the positive unintended effects of an outstanding company culture. What makes these videos even better is that they are genuine – there’s no whiff of PR or marketing here (though of course it is very clever marketing), and as far as we can tell it’s an authentic look at how Google employees are encouraged spend some of their time at work. 

They Keep Active on Social Media

Social media is perfect for short, visual storytelling. It’s one of your organization's most powerful tools for marketing, recruiting, communications and even customer service. The best thing about social media and employer branding is that it’s a completely natural tool for many employees. In fact, most of them are already using it every day. There’s nothing else like it. 

Every organization and brand has Facebook and Twitter accounts, but few truly leverage social media for the purposes of employer branding as much as they could.

microsoftgram.jpgMicrosoft, however, is a clear exception. They have an entire Instagram account dedicated to employer branding. Microsoft Life, with more than 15,000 followers, features choice tidbits, stories, videos and regrams of gorgeous photos taken by their employees. All of these photos give viewers a behind the scenes look at life working at Microsoft. Since Microsoft is such a large company, they benefit from a huge selection of people, places, activities and projects to highlight, but that doesn’t mean smaller organizations can’t follow in their footsteps.

Even a tiny team has numerous stories to tell. Perhaps it’s just a photo taken by your employees as they have lunch near the office, or a story about a particularly rewarding project or day at work. No win is too small or too large. Employee birthdays are one of the easiest ways. Post a photo of the employee and tell a little story about their contributions around the office. That’s employer branding at it’s simplest and most authentic, and it’s something replicable that anyone can do.

They Showcase How Employees Do Meaningful Work

People want to work at companies doing cool stuff because they want their work to matter. That’s why no one should be afraid of showing off their work. Why? Because whether you’re a laundry service, restaurant, startup or hospital, the work you and your colleagues do is valued by someone, and that’s one of the things that makes work so rewarding.


As illustrated in the Twitter post above, General Electric has the art of showing the value and importance of your work and employees down to a science. Throughout their social ecosystem, GE does not hesitate to talk about the innovative work they do fighting cancer, building more efficient trains and creating offshore wind farms. They seamlessly blend stories about their products with stories about the people behind them.

By directly linking their technology and with the people behind it, they humanize the work they do, which is no small feat for one of the United States largest industrial conglomerates.

Putting a human face on your work is one of the most fundamental tasks of effective employer branding and developing a sense of purpose is a powerful motivator for current employees and future employees alike.

They Link Their Employer Brand To Their Consumer Brand

One of the greatest joys and privileges of many jobs is helping your customers, users and community succeed and thrive. It’s also one of the best ways to make people want to work with you, hire you or buy your service. A great employer brand is consonant and complementary with a great consumer brand. In fact, more than 82 percent of marketers in a poll of 2,000 executives said that consumer brands and employer brands will be either related or “one and the same” within five years.

When it comes to branding, many of the reasons people will want to buy something from you are the same reasons people will want to work with you. A strong consumer brand can’t really exist without a strong organizational culture. Remember what’s unique about your organization and the people who within it. Encourage your employees to tell their story and give them the opportunity to do so. As we saw with Google’s Nat and Lo, the sky is the limit.

Related articles:
Why You Should be Hiring For Culture Add Not Culture Fit 
Lever's Recruiting Director on Hiring for Culture Fit Versus Likeability 
Merit Based Interviewing and Building Engineering Culture With Aline Lerner 

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