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How to position your employer brand

Nasser Oudjidane
January 13, 2023
“We are storytellers”

In our Scaling Stories podcast, we caught up with Alex Her, the head of Global Employer Brand at GoDaddy, on how the web hosting giant (and the world’s largest domain registrar) embeds its employee brand internally and attracts prospective candidates.

We discussed how effective employer branding can help lure the most sought-after people i.e. those A-players who are ultimately going to contribute to a great team and generate revenue. For any business leader who thinks that employer branding is something they can ignore, Alex has news for you:

“Just because you don’t have an employer branding person or a team managing that, it doesn't mean you don’t have an employer brand. Once you have a career page, once you say we’re hiring; you have recruiters and you’re making some sort of attempt to sell to potential job seekers, you have an employer brand.”

If we therefore think of employer branding as inevitable, Alex says the key is to “control the narrative”, even if that means simply listing your values on a job ad, such as a family-friendly culture, or “work hard, play hard”.

“We are storytellers” is a theme that Alex often comes back to. To help you capture and craft those stories into something useful, here are some tips from our chat with Alex:

  • Embrace “employee advocacy campaigns” to highlight people in blogs, videos or social posts. You can then ask your “natural advocates” – those who like working at the company – to share it.
  • Use platforms such as Bambu, the “social gaggle app”, to amplify your employee advocacy campaigns.
  • Make it easier for your advocates by “empowering and enabling” them with the right content to share, from hashtags, videos and graphics to suggested messaging and ways to tag the company on social media.
  • Incentivise your advocates with an “internal system” (like points or gift cards) to reward those who deliver the most shares.
  • Scale your efforts in content curation. Alex discusses the merits of enabling advocates to build their “personal brand” on the likes of LinkedIn. “If they build their personal brand, and then they keep talking about all the great things that are happening, someone’s gonna say, hey, you know what, Steve over here keeps talking about that GoDaddy life. Maybe I should talk to him…”

In addition, Alex extols the virtues of creating a blog, which GoDaddy didn’t have until he started. As we all know, there’s nothing worse than a rarely updated blog gathering digital dust in a forgotten corner of a website. But according to Alex, a blog is a great way for a company to tell stories, acknowledge good work (and therefore strengthen retention) and bring people together, especially when workforces are increasingly scattered across the globe. And as Alex says: “I can’t think of anybody who would not want to be highlighted, especially if you’re proud of where you work [and] the work that you’re doing.”

How talent and employer branding overlap

On a recent Scaling Stories podcast, we also got the chance to catch up with senior talent brand strategist Matt Eyre. Matt’s varied career has seen him work in marketing for the likes of Universal Pictures, EA Sports and Sega, and more recently, Silicon Valley Bank. When he joined Intercom, Matt made the leap from brand marketing to talent marketing, so he’s well placed to explain how this crossover works.

“If you look for a definition of a brand strategy, you’re generally gonna see something like a plan to achieve a series of goals resulting in the preference of your brand by consumers,” Matt explains. “So if we think about how to apply that to talent… you’re thinking, how do I build a strategy that’s going to last and that’s going to enable us to build a brand that is meaningful to the people that we’re talking to.”

At its simplest, employer branding is “how you present your company to the world”, says Matt, and requires “very consistent messaging”.

But when most brands offer similar talking points, how do you stand out? Matt draws lessons from self-confessed ‘employer brand nerd’ James Ellis, who says that effective brand messaging is usually four things:

  • Specific
  • Attractive
  • Differentiated
  • Real.

In our discussion, Matt also gives fresh insights on those well-trodden topics of mission, culture and values. In a world where young candidates can simply “jump on TikTok and find out what a company is like”, employers have to think hard about how they meet a candidate’s expectations on culture, rather than simply “sticking 20 words up on your website”.

“They want to know what a company stands for. They want to know what the work experience is gonna be like when they get there,” Matt says, and says that many candidates are looking for “validated values”.

“What do these values mean to me and how am I gonna engage with them on a day-to-day basis? You know, it’s not just ‘how much am I gonna earn and what’s my title gonna be’ anymore? Those days are gone.”

Of course, companies can forge their own unique culture, and that’s going to look different at JP Morgan than a crypto startup making monkey j-pegs. But as Matt says, perhaps there is merit in simply “being true to the values you hold”.

‘33 things we wish recruiters knew about employer branding’

Finally, there’s a great piece of content from the Talent Brand Alliance, who spoke to countless employer branding practitioners who contributed to a list of 33 things they wished recruiters and HR knew about employer branding. Here are just some highlights:

  • “Recruitment marketing and employer branding are two different things.”
  • “HR & Recruitment Systems are not your Employer Brand. They are systems that, when used effectively, can be used to market your brand and ensure seamless, engaging communication and service delivery experience to employees and candidates.”
  • “The word culture needs an actual definition vs. just being a word you use.”
  • “The candidate journey is a long one. Candidates don’t make a decision to apply based on one (promoted) job ad; they do it based on multiple touch points where they find consistent and relevant information about the actual experience and values of the employees and the employer… It takes a candidate on average 7-9 touch points before making a decision.”
  • “A lot of the ‘Best Place to Work’ awards are overrated.”
  • “The world is on its arse. People are fighting both mental health problems and struggling to put food on the table. Think of people and their needs, not yours.”

Frankly, we could write about employer branding all day, but if you’re interested in this topic, you might want to check out our blog on the importance of the EVP (Employee Value Proposition)

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