RantanenSusanna Susanna Rantanen

When should you start to think about your employer brand? Tips for getting started.

When should you start to think about your employer brand as a small business owner?

The answer is: the moment you know you will not stay as a one man/woman show. If you only start to think about it when you need to start hiring, you’re going to be late for that recruitment.

I also think you (as an SME entrepreneur) should not think about employer brand somehow separate to your business brand or your personal brand. They should in fact all be characters in a same story.

When should you start to think about employer branding- @RantanenSusanna

When should you start to think about your employer brand?

Your employer brand is equivalent to your personal brand and your business brand. The difference is the target audience your chosen brand is attempting to influence. In an ideal scenario, these all compliment each other and communicate the same story. I think especially large businesses tend to forget the audience tends to see everything and will notice conflicting messages.

The first purpose of the employer brand is to differentiate your business in an attractive manner from those businesses competing about the same talent. These businesses are not just your competitors (about the same customer), but may extend beyond your own industry. Figure that out.

The second purpose of the employer brand is to communicate what’s in it for the talent. Most companies unfortunately are misled to think the talent is only interested in the Big 3 C’s: cake, coffee and champagne. At least that’s how it seems by the look of what businesses post about their companies for talents.

Most companies unfortunately are misled to think the talent is only interested in the Big 3 C’s: cake, coffee and champagne. @RantanenSusanna

I advice you to start thinking about your appeal as an employer and a place of work as soon as you start to plan your personal brand and/or your business brand.

Where do you start with your employer brand?

There are two sides to what we think as the “employer brand”: the actual brand side of it, what we intentionally build through marketing collateral and marketing communications as well as the employer image, which to me comes from real experiences of other people.

(1) The Actual Employer Brand

The actual brand is the vision of how we want to be seen and what associations we want our talent audience to have about us when they see our logo or company name. My advice is to link the associations with the business and culture.

Using my company Emine as the example, the associations we want the talent to connect with us are very much based on our business strategy and our company culture:

  • Authentic – we are very human and empathetic, and show our real emotions
  • Innovative – from day one our strategy has been to become and now to remain as the innovative forerunner of our industry.
  • Inspirational – we want to inspire (by setting an example) the business leaders and HR practitioners to experience the power of a strong strategic culture to the business, people and customers
  • Practical – It’s hard to inspire unless you show the example, so we are very hands on with our business, our services and our communication
  • Value generating – this also goes with being inspirational and practical; generating value for each other, our customers and audience as well as our business is key in all the decision making

We want our customer audience to connect the same associations to us, so this is where the brands link with each other communicating the same story.

(2) The Employee Experiences building the Employer Image

Every company with or without employees has an employer image. This comes from the experiences people have about us and how those experiences make them feel about working with us or for us.

I attached this picture I’ve formulated for our customers. They love this as it is quite clear about the sources of experiences impacting the employer image.

Employee experiences as a source of employer image

Prioritize the delivery of excellent experiences – that’s how you build a strong brand for your business, your person and the workplace you eventually offer

I advice to start building employer brand from the employee image perspective. This is much more relevant for a small business owner as it is about building the foundation for your entire business, not just potential employees. Focus on the experiences you and your products / services deliver to your audiences. When you create a culture of combined exceeding the expectations of others and being humble about it, you will build a strong brand. No marketing collateral will ever be able to over ride great experiences.

Comments (2)

  • Mika Koskinen

    26.4.2017 at 10:28

    I’d presume that you encounter believes and values being the foundations and when actions (+tactics+strategies) and interest groups are added you get the brands you are after? Or do you see them as unilateral (one-way) communicational bringing experiences about when acting out? I like the way you use experiences instead of services or products and then linking the associations. How about the contexts (circumstances, situations and more adhoc entities) and connotations? This question is about separating/showing your brand from the rest since you are more or less calculating everything within these experiences. is service design the equivalent of employee/employer branding in products and services?

    1. Susanna

      27.4.2017 at 08:24

      Hi Mika, thanks for the wonderful thought and question! I am a strong believer in experiences. I believe our experiences dictate the meaning we put on services, products, relationships, brands.. It’s hard to fight the real experiences. There can be a huge conflict between the brand message and the real experience, and then we are bound to go with our own experience. A brand is the tangible artifact of the real experiences. I believe if you want to build a strong brand, you need to dig deep into the overall experiences the target audience has about everything in relation to your business and your people. Then base the brand promise on the great experiences that people love and your people are naturally willing to give. I love the question is service design the equivalent of employer brand? Putting it like that, I believe so. After all, the best service design processes start with the user experience path, don’t they?

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