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What is an employer branding strategy? And why is it important?

Posted by Sanjay Dove on 21st May 2020

Branding and PR have always been natural bedfellows. Both are very much about perceptions of an organisation among a target group of people, and brand strategies have always looked to answer questions around how to either create or change a perception within the mind of a target.

Now, however, the marketing world is seeing a relatively new concept in “employer branding”.

The definition of employer branding

While ordinary branding is all about creating a perception within the minds of the people you’re trying to sell to, employer branding is all about creating a perception within the minds of the people you’re trying to hire.

The idea is to make your place of work more attractive than the competition’s to encourage the most skilled and talented people to come and work for you and no-one else.

Why is an employer branding strategy important?

Employer branding is important for four reasons.

First, recruits are often in short supply. In the tech world, for example, many brands are looking to target software developers, coders and data scientists. Recruitment company Harvey Nash estimates the UK has a skills shortage of around 16,000 big data and analytics specialists, while two thirds of UK CIOs admit they’re struggling to find suitable candidates — especially outside of London.

Second, while there is indeed a skills shortage, the quality among what is already in short supply varies drastically — so it’s not just a case of finding any software developer or coder, it’s finding the right one for your organisation.

Only recently, for example, did Imperial College London’s modelling for coronavirus, which is currently informing government policy, come under heavy criticism from the tech world for bad coding.

Third, the competition to attract such rare talent is much broader than those simply within your category or industry. Brands large and small across every industry from travel and leisure to manufacturing and social media are competing for the same tech talent you are.

And finally, because supply is so low and the competition so fierce, the biggest brands in each category will almost always outbid everyone else to attract the best people. The average software developer in the UK earns £37,000 per year. Facebook, for example, offers more than double that (£77,000 per year).

Therefore, an effective employer brand strategy can help you overcome these issues and get the talent you need through the door.

So what do you do?

If you’re already a big brand with a strong brand image and salience, that’s a great start, but that’s often not enough to attract the right people. And if you’re a small company building up your profile, don’t worry.

Wildfire research has identified key areas that tech professionals care about when making a decision about where to work (and it’s not all salary and certainly not naff perks like pizzas and pool tables) — and using these insights, we’ve helped brands like William Hill and WorldRemit build up their respective employer brands to make their place of work stand out.

So how do you go about building an employer brand? Stay tuned for our next blog post where we’ll reveal more…

Sanjay Dove

A senior account manager at Wildfire, Sanjay has extensive experience with executing campaigns for brands in the IT, cybersecurity, marketing tech, semiconductor and consumer tech industries — with notable clients including Acquia, RepKnight and Samsung. He is equally at home working with small startups to build their brand awareness and credibility, and working with the big tech brands to manage their reputation within their given industries. Sanjay joined the agency in October 2014 after working for a couple of years in technology copywriting and sports PR. An English Language graduate from the University of Manchester, and a Journalism postgraduate from the University of Salford, Sanjay confesses to being a bit of a grammar nerd. While away from the office, he enjoys playing cricket, watching Chelsea play football, listening to jazz, and playing the piano and the drums. But not all at the same time. Obviously.

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