Between your brand and employer brand

Businesses are always looking for new competitive advantage and have started to catch on to the employer value proposition (EVP) as an attractive differentiator. This is a powerful tool for attracting and retaining talent, but is fraught with problems if handled badly.

However, there are really only three aspects of successful EVP that need considering:

The EVP must work together with your brand strategy

Just like a successful brand strategy, a successful EVP doesn’t just reach out, it reaches out to the right audience, so you can engage not only with the best talent, but the right talent that is best for you.

The war for talent, however, isn’t won on recruitment alone. For your existing workforce it serves as a reinforcement that they are at the right place; and it fuels their commitment to a long term career with you. With the cost of finding and replacing senior talent easily matching twice their annual salary, a strong employer brand is not just a nice to have, it’s an essential investment.

Your overall brand strategy already defines what your company is about. It taps into your history and culture and leverages your tone and points of difference. If you develop an EVP independently of your brand strategy, you will essentially split your brand in two. Instead, create a platform consistent with your brand strategy that clearly communicates what it means for talent. With multiple strategic frameworks involved it can get tricky.

The EVP branding must set you apart

Employers in a specific sector typically go after the same talent using similar messages. This dynamic makes them feel the same, which is the opposite of what they want and what their employees – both prospective and existing, need.

People see the choice of an employer as a deeply personal one. Where one chooses to work reflects one’s identity; over the long term, it may even shape it. As a result, candidates want employers to be highly differentiated, and existing employees still need this difference in order to reassure themselves of their choice.

So, in a market steeped in generic communications, how do you navigate the challenge of simultaneously assuring potential employees of your standing while marking yourself apart?

The driving force behind this dilemma is a pattern we call ‘the leader’s lament.’ When you’re a new player you need to emphasise relevancy to come across as competent and reliable. The cruel irony is that after years of effort you mature into a successful - yet generic – player, losing what made you different in the first place.

The dynamic with employer branding is similar, the rise to the top of one’s category is intertwined with the ability to attract the right people. Top candidates want you to be different, but along your growth process they judge you and other prospective employers against similar criteria to make sure you are competitive and desirable. As a result of this market pressure, you conform and communicate about the same subjects in similar ways.

When you come to the point where you already belong to the top of your industry, this is the time to start to dig deeper, ask hard questions about your differentiation, and let your brand strategy give you courage to stand apart.

Use creativity to activate meaning

When dealing with complex messages, creativity is your best ally.

It’s easy to get lost in the detail when planning a proposition that needs to work across multiple audiences or multi-national corporates, across multiple cultures. Corporate marketing can often lose its bearings in this challenge.

But a robust messaging matrix, as smart and sophisticated as it might be, won’t create the resonance you need in order to make talent choose you over similar opportunities.

To truly engage people, you need to meet them through impactful communications and engaging experiences. Whether through advertisement, social media, or events – it all comes down to the creativity of your content.

Only through remarkable creativity can you make people lean in and absorb the detail of your proposition.

Top tips

1. Base your EVP on your brand strategy. Don’t create multiple frameworks.
2. People usually notice big points and take the rest for granted. Make sure your point of difference shines through your EVP.
3. Rethink your competitive set. A global, connected world means a lot of employers outside your own sector are going after the same talent.
4. Use the same platform for both prospective employees and your team. Beyond compensation and role descriptions, people largely keep believing in your organisation for similar reasons to those which attracted them in the first place.
5. Social media only works with the right creative content. Just like any channel - a set of tools is not a solution in itself.
6. There’s a lot of opportunity to stand out in recruitment communications. Know yourself. Be brave. Be creative. Don’t waste precious attention on obvious points.

Published by B2B Marketing