Company Culture

3 Powerful Ways to Define Your Unique Employer Brand

Maja Orsic
October 17, 2018
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Every company has its own "special sauce."

By highlighting your organization’s distinguishing characteristics and telling personal stories about the people on your team, you can develop a strong employer brand that helps your organization attract, engage, and retain stellar talent and win loyal customers. 

If you want your company's employer brand to have a positive influence on your teammates at every stage of the employee lifecycle, don’t limit your employer branding efforts to talent acquisition. You might improve your recruitment and onboarding processes if you make hiring your focus, but you won’t have a considerable impact on your company culture or business performance.

In our new eBook "How to Creatively and Effectively Communicate Your Employer Brand", we examine three factors within your control that can significantly impact your organization's employer brand: employee experience, internal communications, and recruiting.

In this post, we'll discuss how each of these factors can influence your employer brand. If you want to learn more, download the full eBook so you can kickstart your employer branding efforts!

Employee experience

Employee experience is one factor that can significantly impact your organization's employer brand. As employer brand expert Denise Lee Yohn says, “you can’t expect your employees to deliver to customers what they don’t experience themselves.”

One company that is repeatedly head and shoulders above the employer brand competition is REI. If you’ve ever been to an REI store, you’ve probably noticed that their employees genuinely love the outdoors and possess an above-average knowledge of the gear and experiences they’re selling. Their engagement is due in no small part to the “Opt outside” brand promise that REI makes to its customers and its employees.


The outdoor outfitter offers its employees “gear rentals and discounts and learning activity classes and two annual ‘Yay Days,’ which are PTO days to spend outside and use the outdoor gear they sell for such activities as hiking, biking, climbing, camping and skiing.” In addition, the company offers a generous leave of absence policy and adoption assistance.

The result? REI employees consistently report feeling that they can live their full lives without worrying about taking too much time off or spending time with their families.

In an interview with Bloomberg about how REI’s focus on wellness attracts similarly minded individuals, REI’s senior vice president of HR Raquel Karls says simply: “All those things tend to blend into being part of who you are and part of what you do.”

Internal communications

Your organization's internal communications is another factor that can influence its employer brand.

If official or unofficial communications from your company were released to the public, would you be proud of their contents? Hopefully, your answer is yes.

Internal communications from your company’s leaders should be in keeping with the voice and tone of your brand. As with so many things in business, internal communications are a matter of trust.

You may have heard about the Microsoft University recruiter who emailed a cohort of interns promising that there would be "hella noms, lots of dranks, the best beats" and a beer pong table at a company event. The email was widely shared (and laughed at) online, eventually prompting a Microsoft spokesperson to tell Business Insider that “the email was poorly worded and not in keeping with our values as a company.”

Whether they go viral on social media or remain shielded from public view, your company’s internal communications influence your employer brand.


In the wake of Wells Fargo’s fraud scandal in 2016, former employees revealed that the company’s internal publications, including its code of ethics and team handbook, were widely circulated but effectively ignored. Practices like “gaming,” which the company frowned on in its Wells Fargo Code of Ethics, were actually carried out quite frequently.


“Management made it clear that no employee was allowed to complain about the unethical practices that were going on within the branch,” explained one former personal banker at a Wells Fargo branch. The company’s singular focus on sales targets and profit margins contributed to its management’s willful ignorance of malpractice.

Your company’s internal communications can uphold your employer brand or render it meaningless. Do everything in your power to ensure that it’s the former.


Recruiting efforts are a third factor that can influence your organization's employer brand. Companies worldwide are experiencing the biggest talent shortage in over 10 years. Because job seekers are in the driver’s seat, they can demand a lot more than competitive salaries.

Experience, professional development, and growth opportunities are among the chief demands that modern job seekers have in mind when they’re looking for jobs. Whether your company can deliver on some, most, or all of those demands, your messaging for those deliverables should be transparent from the start.


Recruiting is competitive and expensive for everyone, but if your company is fighting against a negative employer brand, it will have to pay candidates at least 10% more in order to hire them.

As a result, “organizations must make talent strategy a key priority and take steps now to educate, train, and upskill their existing workforces,” says Yannick Binvel of Korn Ferry, an international management consulting firm.

Employer brand expert James Ellis calls employer branding "a mindset, not a toolset." We've found that it can help to think of your company’s employer brand as an accountability measure: it’s your company’s promise to act and react in a certain way, the yardstick your company chooses to be measured by. If you’re honest with people before they start working for you and then deliver on your promises, they’ll be more likely to trust you.

What's next?

Now that you understand a few of the factors that contribute to every company’s employer brand, it’s time to assess your company’s employer brand. Download our employer branding eBook to get started! 

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