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Employer branding: How to build a strong employer brand

Employer branding helps companies to find qualified employees on the labor market and to retain them in the company. Competition for the best talent has intensified in recent months. Many companies are affected by the so-called "War for Talents". Good employees are difficult to find, and even if they are found, measures must be taken to prevent them from switching to the competition. As a result, there is competition among employers who need to differentiate themselves in order to attract the right candidates. Employer branding is a proven method for this. But employers can only hold their own in the battle for the best talent if a well-developed strategy is in place and the goals are pursued in an interdisciplinary manner. We show the right strategies and give tips on how companies can achieve this goal and build a strong employer brand.

Employer branding simply explained

Employer branding has a lot in common with marketing. The difference is that instead of developing and expanding the product brand, a specific corporate image is built up and strengthened. The employer brand is to be linked with a positive image, thereby attracting potential applicants and creating lasting employee loyalty. This process can be roughly divided into two measures: The acquisition of new employees and employee retention in the long term.

Advantages of a strong employer brand

The greatest advantage of a strong employer brand is obvious: The employer brand becomes a magnet for applicants. A positive image can set you apart from the competition, increase employer attractiveness and reduce recruiting times. Of course, measures should not be limited to the recruiting process; it is just as important to promote employee satisfaction and loyalty. Motivated and productive employees enable companies to succeed in the marketplace. If the fluctuation is too high or many employees have already "internally quit", high costs arise for employers. This must be prevented in employer branding.

Who is responsible for employer branding in the company?

In a nutshell: HR and marketing. An interdisciplinary team is needed to optimize the employer branding process. The HR staff is responsible for ensuring that the company is actually an attractive employer and that the employees are satisfied. The marketing team ensures that this is communicated and perceived. They create the appropriate marketing strategy and communicate it to the outside world through various channels.

With the right strategy to a strong employer brand

Setting up a new career website, a creative image film or insights into everyday working life on social media - these are all good measures for working on employer branding. But if there is no strategy behind it, it will not have the expected effect in the long term. The first step and the most important one in this process is the creation of a holistic strategy. It is necessary to determine the current situation, work out target groups, define the employer value proposition and determine measures. The resulting successes are measured and continuously optimized. The development of a strong concept for employer branding is a process that should be questioned and adapted again and again.

Five steps to the right employer branding strategy:

1. analyze actual state

Regardless of whether companies are already implementing several measures or are still at the beginning - recording the current status is the first step towards an employer branding concept. A holistic picture should be created, so all participants and available data must also be recorded. Among other things, these are questions such as:

  • Which channels do we use for recruiting? How many applications come in per published job ad? Is there a difference between the channels?
  • Which advertising media and formats have worked well so far, which less so?
  • What sets the company apart from the competition?
  • What makes the company an interesting employer?

2. define target groups and goals

In the first step, some problems can usually be identified, but also best practices. In order for the strategy to work well, the next step should be to define goals and also target groups that companies want to address. Possible goals can be:

  • Increase awareness of the employer brand
  • Get more ratings on job ads
  • Faster application processes
  • More suitable applicants:inside

The target groups should then also be defined: What professional qualifications are desired, what soft skills, etc.?

3. define employer value proposition

The Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is the development of the employer positioning. Companies work out the core statement of the value proposition. This is to express what the company stands for and to bring the lived values to the forefront. The employer value proposition is the foundation of the employer brand.

In order to define the EPP, an inventory of the current state must first be made. The target groups are defined and the competition is analyzed. Finally, the company's values and vision are elaborated. In short, employers can work through the following steps to define the Employer Value Proposition:

  1. Analysis of the current state: What are the unique selling points of the company? What are the strengths and weaknesses? Which values are communicated?
  2. Research: This point can be divided into internal and external research. In order to gather internal opinions, the best solution is to survey employees. How do the employees themselves see the company, what do they like and what would they like to see? In external research, customers, business partners and applicants are interviewed.
  3. Define target group: This step is used to create a so-called candidate persona. This fictitious person is modified so that he or she is an ideal match for the job posting and the company. 
  4. Competitor analysis: There are companies that implement the EVP and employer branding almost perfectly - and can no longer save themselves from applications. Companies can look for best practices and take a closer look at their competitors. What are these companies doing right and how is recruiting structured?
  5. Vision and employer claim: In this step, it is essential to consider all the findings of the previous points. Companies can continue to work with positive findings after the analysis and work out the key points of the EPP. This includes the corporate culture as well as corporate benefits, finances and other points concerning the company.

4. determine measures

With the development of the employer value proposition, a big step has been taken. A Candidate Journey, similar to the Customer Journey for customers, can be helpful. Companies can list all touchpoints and include additional channels as needed. Examples include: The careers page on the website, trade fairs, application portals, advertisements, trial work days, onboarding, etc. The existing channels should be critically reviewed. The Candidate Persona can be used for this. Where does she stay and search for jobs? Which channels does she use and which company values and corporate benefits appeal to her? In this step, clear procedures for the entire application process should also be defined so that the entire appearance is coherent and offers positive touch points.

5. measurement and optimization of successes

Regular reviews are the only way to ensure that the measures implemented are working. If the expected results are not achieved, the candidate journey must be revised and improved.

Success can be measured by different metrics depending on the measures, such as:

  • Visits to the career page and conversion rate
  • Number of applications
  • Fluctuation rate

Internal surveys should ideally be conducted on a regular basis. This is another way for companies to ensure that employees are satisfied and to identify potential for improvement.

One thing is certain: developing the employer value proposition comes with a hefty time investment. But when they are well crafted and implemented, companies create satisfied employees who stay loyal for the long term and more applications from great talent.

To achieve a meaningful employer value proposition, companies should engage and integrate employees, managers, and key stakeholders into the process. In the "war for talent," companies face broad competition for the most qualified employees. To attract the best talent, it is important to stand out with a strong brand message and authentic values. This is the only way for companies to remain relevant and successful in the competition.

Internal employer branding

When the term employer branding is mentioned, many people first think of external measures to find qualified talent and optimize the application phase and onboarding. Internal employer branding is at least as important and should also be well planned. 

Why is internal employer branding so important?

Internal employer branding holds enormous opportunities for companies. Satisfied employees are not only more motivated at work, loyalty increases and frustration tolerance decreases. In the long run, there are fewer resignations and employers can save on new hires. But this strong bond with the company also brings other benefits: The image is also improved by satisfied employees. Happy employees will also report on their positive experiences, whether among friends, on social media or on rating portals.

There are of course many interfaces between internal and external employer branding. The biggest mistake companies can make is to communicate benefits and values to the outside world, but these do not match reality.

How can you strengthen internal employer branding?

There are various fields of action in internal employer branding. In addition to leadership culture and human resources management, important factors such as the design of the working environment and internal communication also count.

Here, too, it is important to involve employees in the process and to survey them, for example through regular feedback. If new corporate benefits are introduced that make employees feel more comfortable at work, this should also be backed up by a survey. This is the only way employers can ensure that the employee offers are actually desired and accepted. Corporate benefits are a popular means of increasing employee satisfaction and enhancing the feel-good factor at work. 

The optimal design of internal employer branding is very individual and requires time - but is definitely worth it. There are numerous measures, and we have listed a few examples here:

  • Workplace design: Flexible working hours and choice of work location are becoming increasingly relevant for employees. SAP, Spotify, HubSpot and other well-known companies rely on flexible working models and thus increase employee satisfaction.
  • Continuing education: Several surveys confirm that most employees pay particular attention to whether companies promote continuing education. 
  • Corporate benefits: They help to increase the feel-good factor at work and ensure a good work-life balance. Employers can create a benefit for employees through tax-free benefits in kind, subsidies for meals or for fitness courses.
  • Personnel management: This topic is also important and should be discussed internally. For many, an exchange at eye level with superiors is a basic prerequisite for good personnel management. 
  • Corporate values: The values should be clearly communicated and, above all, authentic. The corporate values should be well thought out - no one is helped by the greatest values if they are not really lived out in practice.


The topic of employer branding is a process and should always be prioritized within the company. When working out the company values, it is important to start with the internal measures so that the message can be authentically conveyed to the outside world. Only values that are actually lived by the company should be communicated. 

With a well thought-out employer branding strategy, vacancies can be filled more quickly. Terminations decrease and employees work more productively because they feel comfortable and can identify with the company.

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