How startups can build a memorable employer brand

A brand new business obviously starts from scratch.

Sure, if the founder came from a different business, they may have a reputation to carry with them, but overall, startups need all the help they can get in not only getting noticed but attracting the right talent.

After all, very few high-quality employees are going to jump in blind and work with a company they’ve never heard of.

According to a study by LinkedIn, 95% of potential candidates do some research into a company before deciding whether to go for the job or not. If they don’t like what they see, most won’t continue with the application. 

It makes sense when you think about it. You want to be sure that the place you’re going to call your work home will value you and allow you to not only thrive but feel challenged and content in your role. 

Attracting top-quality talent can be difficult, but it often comes down to one thing - employer brand.  

What is employer branding?

We know that a brand is a distinctive identity that a business puts forward to its customers, to try and tempt them to explore and buy its products.

Well, employer branding is very much the same, but looking at tempting employees toward their business instead. 

To define employer branding, we could say that it’s a way to create a reputation and maintain it through the ups and downs of business life.

If your branding is positive, you’ll attract new talent, as well as customers. It’s a win-win all around. 

As a startup, you need to show the world what you’re about if you want to be seen and heard over the noise of the big businesses.

Your brand, therefore, needs to showcase what you do, what you’re about, your principles, values, and the personality you want to show to the world.

When your employer brand is on point, you’re showing everyone that you’re a great business to work for and that days spent at work will be enjoyable and fulfilling.

And it’s passed on from person to person too - never underestimate the power of word of mouth. 

Employees will tell their friends and family members about their experiences working with your business, perhaps they’ll even share it on social media. That’s then passed on to countless others in a domino effect. 

When you look at it that way, you need everything said about you to be positive. 

Why is employer branding so important?

As a society, as much as we like to say that we don’t care what people think of us, we’re lying. Of course, we care. Businesses care too.

It’s the perception you’re putting out to the world and you care if it’s positive or negative because it has a massive effect on whether your startup business is a success or not. 

Think of it this way - imagine that you’ve seen a job advertised online and it’s for a business you’ve never heard of. You do a little research and you realise that it’s a startup business, brand new to the scene.

At that point, you might be a little cautious because you don’t know whether or not the business is going to thrive and that means you may lose your job if it all goes wrong. 

However, if a startup puts time and effort into building its employer brand, that gives you something to work with. You can learn more and you will get a sense of what they’re about and whether you think you’ll fit in well or not. You can also decide whether the business’ values align with yours. 

This type of information is more likely to push you to submit your application. The first situation is more likely to make you pass over the opportunity and look elsewhere. 

The same Linkedin study we mentioned earlier also found that 40% of employees would be happy to move to an organisation and receive the same pay as their old job, if that new business had positive employer branding. 

So, it’s not about the money, it’s about the experience. 

Of course, it’s also about retaining existing staff too. When your employer brand is positive, that means the experience within your workplace is equally as positive. 

Employees are more likely to stay if they feel valued and they enjoy the place they work in. So, that’s your ROI (return on investment) - reduced recruitment costs and increased morale, leading to increased productivity. 

How to build employer branding

Building your employer brand means knowing who you are first and foremost. It’s no good trying to tell the world that you’re a great business and you have happy and fulfilled employees if you don’t have the first clue what you stand for. 

With that in mind, the first step is to pinpoint your vision and your mission. What do you value and what is the culture like in your business? Do any changes need to be made? If so, now is the time!

You cannot stretch the truth when it comes to putting your employer branding out there - it needs to be honest and to the point; nothing can be hidden in today’s online world. 

Then, identify what is unique about your business and what makes you stand apart from everyone else. That unique selling point is what will grab the attention and make people sit up and take notice. 

Of course, you also need to find out what the culture is like within your business and the only place to start is with your employees.

It’s important that you try and work out as honestly as you can how your business is perceived by those who work within it and then spread that further to find out the perception further afield. 

By asking your employees what they enjoy about working for your company, you can identify the attributes you want in your new employees, i.e. the talent you want to attract. 

All of this information will form the basis of your strategy. 

How can startups go big with employer branding?

Once you’ve identified the information above, how can you get your brand out there and push it to the front of people’s minds?

Remember, startups have to really show who they are in this competitive business world, and because most of your business is done online, that’s where you should start in terms of your reputation-building strategy.

1. Encourage your employees to share

Who better to tell people about your brand than those who work within it? Encourage your employees to share job ads and their experiences via social media and word-of-mouth contact.

Not only to attract talent but also to distribute and extend the reach of your (amazing) content.

According to LinkedIn, companies with high numbers of employees sharing quality content are 58% more likely to attract talent. And jobs shared by employees yield 30% more job applications.

Of course, this relies upon you motivating your employees to feel empowered and engaged in their work.

Top businesses understand that their employees are their biggest assets and once you understand this and you treat your employees in the way they should be treated, they’ll want to share their stories and encourage others to join the team.

2. Become active on social media channels

The great thing about social media isn’t just the sheer number of people you can reach nowadays, it’s that you can showcase your personality at the same time.

This is a huge part of your employer brand - showing people what you’re about through your content and the tone in which you write it. 

So, you also need to be active on all social media channels and take part in discussions and groups that have direct relevance to your business. It's not just down to your employees - lead by example.

That way, you’re not only getting your name out there as a founder and industry expert, but you’re showcasing your startup's brand through content and knowledge. And showing a bit of personality.

3. Be visual

Words are important, but you need to back them up with evidence. When you’re communicating on social media, be visual with what you’re sharing.

Show people an insight into the daily workings of your startup and create ‘day in the life’ videos that people can engage with and comment upon. 

It’s all very well and good telling people that the culture within your business is positive and enjoyable, but everyone says that. You need to stand out from the crowd by actually showing people, rather than just using empty words.

4. Explain what you offer your employees

When advertising for vacant positions, make sure that you highlight the perks you offer to your employees.

This doesn’t only mean the salary, but also employee benefits like an employee share scheme, training opportunities, development routes, and flexible working opportunities. As well as important information on the culture of the business and your core values overall.

Book a free discovery call to learn more about setting up a share scheme for your team.

How to measure your efforts

Creating an employer brand and developing it over time is fine, but how do you know if it’s working? You’ll need to measure your results and then, if things need to be tweaked, you’ll know where to start.

  • When developing your brand, identify some key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Sent out anonymous employer questionnaires every few months and take notice of the replies - look for trends and address any issues.

  • Assess comments on social media and collate replies into groups. Again, look for trends.

  • Measure traffic levels on your job advertisements versus the number of applicants. If you’re getting more applicants, you’ll know that your strategy is working. 

Let's recap

Employer brand is a vital tool you can use to attract the right talent to your business while retaining existing, highly trained employees at the same time. 

How the internal and external worlds perceive your business is important for everyone - even huge brands such as Apple and Google know that opinions matter. As a startup, this is even more important. 

Building trust and loyalty means that you have plenty to rely upon when building your business, especially when times may be tough. 

At the end of the day, people want to work for and do business with brands that care, have strong values, and that treat their employees with care and respect.

Your employee brand will show that and can bring major benefits if you use it in the right way. 

Starting a new business? Launch your new venture via Vestd