You’ve probably heard of employer branding and followed the steps to building a strong employer brand, but what exactly is “employee branding”? How is it different from employer branding?
Like employer branding, employee branding involves presenting the company in the best possible light in front of employees, job candidates, internal and external stakeholders, and customers.
What is Employee Branding?
A good starting point for defining this term is thinking of it as how your company is perceived by current and potential employees.
One practical definition we can use is from a Kelley School of Business research paper:
Employee branding is the process by which employees internalize the desired brand image and are motivated to project the image to customers and other organizational constituents.
In other words, it’s about getting employees on board with the values that your brand stands for and the type of business your company engages in. Employees convey these externally, through word of mouth and social advocacy.
How Can Employee Branding Help Your Company?
Like employer branding, employee branding efforts feed back into how your company is seen by people who might apply to work for you, as well as your existing and potential customers.
Organizations with a strong employee brand have the ability to turn their employees into powerful brand ambassadors. They are also more likely to improve employee loyalty, contribute to solid brand reputation management, increase employee motivation levels, and attract and secure the right talent.
Encourage Employees to Become Brand Ambassadors
Today’s most successful brands are implementing “employee branding” programs to accompany employees — including members of the C-suite and leadership team — on their digital journeys and help them communicate on social media.
On the whole, however, employees display very low brand engagement on social media, in many situations not following or “liking” the company’s pages on social media sites.
This is where employee branding comes in. The objective is to be able to guide or shape employee behavior so that people who work for the company can effectively and creatively project the brand identity of the organization through their work, public, and social media behavior.
Employee Branding Program: Getting Started
An increasing number of executives are becoming interested in how employee branding can achieve a competitive advantage. Here are some important considerations to make if you’re just getting started:
Teach Employees About Your Brand
The first step is to create, teach, and instill the brand message in the minds of your employees.
Naturally, this message must be a positive and compelling message that employees can associate with and which makes them more likely to identify with your organization.
Conduct Brand Training
Employee branding requires processes like brand education and interface training. These are designed to teach your employees how to represent the brand through their behavior, and to create structured opportunities for them to practice representing the brand and become ambassadors.
Drive Organizational Communication
With current and new employees, it’s important to talk (and keep talking) about what your organization is all about. Your messages should clearly, frequently, and consistently convey the organization’s mission, values, and desired brand image. Set expectations and improve employees’ role clarity through internal communications, human resource activities and initiatives, and informal social events.
Fine-tune Hiring and Recruitment
It’s difficult to turn employees into brand ambassadors if your hiring and recruitment processes don’t attract the right people in the first place.
Proactively manage and monitor your employer brand, listen to and address valuable employee feedback, provide accurate and specific job previews, and make the commitment to grow your organization by selecting the right people for the job.
Listen to Employee Feedback
The employer-employee feedback loop is a critical component of the employee branding process.
Thanks to the rise of websites like Glassdoor and Indeed.com, more employees are making their voices heard through online reviews. They’re rating their interview and employee experiences. They’re sharing details of their working lives and expressing their feelings about their CEOs and leadership team with a thumbs up or thumbs down (or smileys or frowns).
When employees share their thoughts in their own words, you have an incredible opportunity to listen in, respond, and take action in ways that help your business grow.
Not only is this essential for staff retention and the development of high-potential employees; it also enables your organization to monitor the processes you have in place and identify areas for improvement.
Employee Experience is Key to Great Employee Branding
Focus on creating an environment where all employees feel like they have a stake in sharing and communicating the brand message.
Launch initiatives that improve retention, increase employee satisfaction, and foster a culture based on candid feedback sharing, transparency, and open communication. Remember: engaged, motivated employees are more likely to become brand ambassadors than employees who aren’t invested in the company’s success.