How To Achieve Success in Your Employer Branding Role

employer branding role

Just like any business strategy, an employer branding strategy is highly tailored to the context of an organisation. This means that there’s no clear recipe for success in an employer branding strategy, but there are factors that often influence the success and adequacy of your strategic processes.

Here are six aspects to consider that will help you achieve success in your role as you set up long-term processes and decision points required to build your employer brand. 

1. People. Not employees, candidates, or managers.

All stakeholders involved in building and implementing an employer branding strategy are people. Key stakeholders in our processes are candidates and employees, who are also people. While these statements may seem obvious, they underscore an important point. 

Why do we treat all these people as if they were some abstract groups more important than everyone else? We often think of them as scary people with high expectations. Just two or three managers can be enough to hinder us in our ambitions.

Often, we communicate something nicely packaged and polished to our colleagues, as if they were not a part of the same organisation, not seeing what exactly is going on. And so, we let ourselves be carried away by the whirlwind of imaginary expectations and old approaches to communication and collaboration. 

Only when we realize that behind every role there is a person who is often very aware of what’s happening, who has emotions and motivations, fears, and concerns, can we move forward and deal with the technical aspects of setting the strategy. This awareness and understanding can only be achieved if we involve all these people in our most important processes, which I’ll write about in point 2. 

2. Collaborate, don’t dictate.

Another common practice involves, for example, one HR team sitting down and calling the shots on the onboarding process. Why don’t we involve new hires and question them about what they need? Often, the reason is a lack of time, but also the established way of doing things. The only way to do something that will support colleagues, their needs, and ambitions in the long run, is to involve them in the design and testing processes. The onboarding process is just one example. However, designing an employer branding strategy would be a more advanced project that we need to involve our colleagues in. While not being a must, it’s highly beneficial for the long-term success.

This way of working and thinking supports all human-centric processes where it’s necessary to understand the perspective of those for whom we’re developing processes and actively involve them in shaping them.

3. Buy-in.

Approval of budgets and initiatives that can lead to major changes in the organisation comes from our management. I would add that it’s crucial to involve members of the management team in processes and work on their education and understanding of employer branding activities and strategy.

Advice on getting closer to your management team:

  1. Speak about numbers — all data you have around ROI, productivity, experience or potential loss in numbers is highly desired.
  2. Co-create with them — bring team members into action and choose touchpoints with high impact.
  3. Be proactive in reporting — don’t wait for the official reporting date to come. Create your own reporting routine and open your doors for their feedback and contribution.

4. Promised – Delivered. Undelivered – Addressed.

Most employer branding activities, including communication, are highly transparent. And when we promise something (officially or unofficially), it’s extremely important to understand that there are expectations behind it. What exactly does that mean? Here’s an example: If we conduct pulse surveys and in every other survey, our employees tell us that coming to the office causes them great stress because of the location, it’s our responsibility to address this issue in some way. We don’t have to solve everything right away or move our office (we all know how complex this issue is), but to say: “Hey, we’ve heard you, we’re aware that our location is problematic, and in the coming period, we’ll work on potential solutions” is quite enough to gain some trust in the system. This way the essence of pulse surveys can sometimes help us in very challenging times. 

In all the transparency of our work, there comes a moment, as in football, everyone knows how to comment, but no one knows how to play. We often encounter criticism, and it’s extremely difficult to receive positive feedback from all colleagues on every activity. A special frustration occurs if we promised something and it didn’t happen. And an even greater dissatisfaction follows if we didn’t communicate the status of ongoing questions. 

In relation to the story above, our colleagues are people and they communicate with each other. This creates a special need for a skill to communicate unfulfilled promises, especially the ones we were mistaken with.

The more we convey our perspective, the more understanding and support we’ll receive. When it comes to long-term processes, we need to pay special attention to responsibility and loyalty, which aren’t gained just like that.

5. Says Who?

Who determines our success? Is it important for a certain initiative or communication to please an individual in our company or our target group? Do we compare ourselves to industry standards or to ourselves in the previous year? How do we generally evaluate a strategy and what triggers additional agility is a million-dollar question. A little hack for focus is the truth told by employees, our shift compared to the previous year, and the contribution to the core business on which, at the end of the day, we all depend. Warm recommendation for the Infinite game by Simon Sinek, which perfectly describes this point.

6. Connection with Business Goals.

An employer branding strategy should align with business goals, and further facilitate the necessary synergy to achieve them. Only when we ask how we connect employer branding metrics with business goals do we open up a never-ending and very inspiring discussion. Our ability to link these metrics, goals, and processes will contribute to the relevance and success of our employer branding strategy. Thus, having said that our first and necessary step in this process is to deeply understand the context of our business, goals, and how we track whether we’ve come closer to their achievement.

I know this text isn’t a “ready-made” guide for developing and implementing an employer branding strategy, but I hope it can help you build awareness of how to set up strategic processes and build new healthy practices in the future.

Stay curious.

Related articles: How to Align Your Employer Brand Strategy With Talent Aquisition Strategy


Katarina Šonjić

Katarina Šonjić

Employer Branding Strategist @Kat on coffee

Employer Branding Strategist and taekwondo coach focused on empowering employer branding managers to bring their ideas and processes to life.
She believes in the power of collaboration and knowledge sharing to drive collective growth.
She is the founder of Empple Festival, one of the creators of Employer BrandSprint, and Facilitator in DesignThinkers Academy.