How to Keep Your Employer Brand from Becoming Shelfware

Congratulations on Your New Employer Brand!

You’ve invested in taking a clear look at what it’s like – and what it should be like – to work at your company. You’ve gone through exercises and interviews with executives, employees, partners and customers. And now, you have a logo, look, feel and message platform about who should be attracted to your business, why they should love working there, and even why they should still feel the love if they retire or move on. You have an employer brand.

Unfortunately, that’s where the effort stops in many organizations. The process of developing that employer brand feels like a complete effort, in and of itself. So, after reveling in the accomplishment, the employer brand is slid behind more pressing work, sometimes relegated to “shelfware.”

Development of your employer brand should be the start of the process, not the finish line. The next steps should infuse your brand through every point of contact where current, future and even former employees interact with your organization. Which means you need a brand activation plan.

Components of Your Activation Plan

Activating your brand will require launching it to both internal and external audiences and reinforcing it as part of your corporate culture. Internally, that means you’ll need to engage your leadership and Human Resources/Talent team. Identify and work with ambassadors – core people at multiple levels of the company who both personify the brand and will be committed to supporting it. Introduce the program to employees in a way that involves them and helps them to feel part of its success. Keep the momentum going throughout the year with opportunities that reinforce connection, encourage sharing through referral programs, and communications that showcase employees. Incorporate your new brand into onboarding materials as well, so that new employees feel connected to your culture right away. And, don’t forget about opportunities to engage “alumni,” reminding them that even as they move onto other opportunities, they’re still part of your company story.

Externally, seek ways to weave your employer brand through all the points of contact that touch potential employment candidates and applicants – including the careers area of your website (or even a separate site entirely) and social media. Make sure to write job descriptions in ways that reflect your employer brand’s tone and messages. Make sure your presence at recruitment events does the same. You’ll want to make sure that key external recruiters are up to date on the employer brand, too.

Set Yourself Up to Succeed

Building awareness of the qualities that make your organization a uniquely desirable workplace is a huge but important undertaking! Fortunately, we have some essential advice to keep in mind to help you successfully implement your employer brand.

  1. Your employees are critical partners in this effort. Keep the tone positive and inclusive. Involve them as much as possible – from requesting feedback while the brand is in development to listening to continued feedback as you launch. Keep in mind that your employer brand is being launched for and with them, not to them or at them.
  2. Your employer brand should reflect the presence of your employees. Consider showcasing people who personify your brand attributes – both through internal communications and on candidate-facing materials. It’s easier for employees to embrace your employer brand when they can recognize themselves as part of it.
  3. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Resist the temptation to do everything at once – or to change your employer brand after a few months of living and breathing it every day. It will take time to become a natural part of your culture and communications. Create achievable milestones with metrics within your long-term schedule for involving team members and reinforcing the brand.

Bonus tip: Building awareness of what makes your organization uniquely desirable – both internally and externally – will require both great effort and attention to detail across multiple training and communications axes. So, look to a partner who can help you activate your employer brand and measure your progress. (Full disclosure: We offer this kind of support, as well as employer brand development, here at Relish.)

In short: Don’t stop with the development of your program concept, name and messages. Infuse it through your corporate culture and out in the world. That’s when you’ll see results come to life, delivering the best possible return on your employer branding investment.


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