Employer branding is a new buzz word in the media. Although many people think it’s just a new form of HR marketing, there’s actually much more to it. We spoke to employer branding expert Ralf Tometschek about why it matters, and how companies can promote themselves better to potential employees.
Ralf, you have years of experience in marketing and its associated fields. How did your career develop and why did you decide on employer branding?
I worked in advertising for over 15 years – i.e. I generally created a “façade design” for companies that was more illusion than reality. That’s what made me want to have greater impact on the company’s culture – with Identitäter, I’ve been developing companies through the power of the brand since 2004.
We started with the issue of “internal branding”, because we believe the employees are the most important thing in terms of living the brand and its values. Employer branding is now the new buzz word, but unfortunately it is mostly seen as “new HR marketing” and mainly implemented with a pure campaign mentality.
For me, employer branding is about managing the brand at all stages from initial contact with the applicant to accepting the new employee, right through to the day he or she leaves the company – and hopefully still has good things to say about it!
How do you see the influence of social media on the employment market and the employer?
Social media has had a significant effect on expanding the boundaries of corporate communications by increasing transparency. Applicants can already form an image of the company of their choice at an early stage. In reality, it’s all still in its infancy, but things are moving slowly in the right direction. However, according to the latest social media recruitment study, applicants also prefer direct contact from potential employers.
What initial steps should a company take if it wants to position itself better as an employer?
It needs to be clear about its strengths and weaknesses as an employer, and then to find an authentic position that is convincing and/or surprising.
What’s the right way to do it? Perhaps you’ve got a few favourite examples of good employer branding campaigns?
We develop the core brand positioning in focus groups with employees. They generally have a very realistic view of “their” company. We look for examples that are typical, for the common theme running through the positive things about the company. Then we define different avenues to explore in positioning the brand, and decide the direction in workshops with the core team and management.
A good example is our own work with Salzburg AG, our regional provider of energy and transport in the city and province of Salzburg. It is positioned against a few prominent local companies, such as Red Bull and Porsche Austria.
The campaign “work with purpose” was a big success both externally and internally and also won awards. Until then, they hadn’t thought of promoting the idea of the purpose of the work, which was the strongest argument for choosing Salzburg AG over local competitors.
Will employer branding become increasingly important in the coming years? What’s your view of the future in this area?
As I said, much of this is still in its infancy. Employer branding is often still misunderstood as “new HR marketing”. The next few years will bring the second wave of employer branding. This will also shift the focus to the internal aspect of employer branding – the world inside the company where the values are lived.