Employer Branding: Buzzword or Business Sense?

by Kyle Durston

Companies spend so much time and money on consumer branding, but what about employer branding? Attracting and retaining the best people for your business can make or break a start-up or scale-up business. So if you want to get it right, don’t leave it entirely up to luck.


At Firestarter, we don’t just consider the branding of your ‘showroom’ (what you put out into the world). We believe the ‘engine room’ (your people, partners, products and processes) is just as important.

Why? Well… companies that actively invest in their employer brand see a whopping 50% decrease in cost-per-hire and a 28% reduction in employee turnover. 



Now, that might sound more relevant for larger companies, with hundreds or thousands of employees but, for scale-ups, the value of quickly hiring the perfect-fit candidate when time is incredibly stretched is even more impactful. What’s more, early on, the cost of a wrong hire can be monumental, especially when one hire could represent a chunky percentage of your workforce. Finding someone who is going to be both ‘in it’ and ’on it’ (as we like to call it at Firestarter) – someone you’re excited about, someone who feels like a good fit on more than just qualifications – will make a huge difference!

So if you’re browsing through CVs and applications, and find yourself asking – why aren’t there more exciting candidates here?


What you need is to define your employee value proposition (EVP)


Every brand should have an employee value proposition (EVP). But don’t worry. This isn’t another thing to add to your list. At Firestarter, we see brands in 360 degrees, and your EVP should be an intrinsic internal part of your overall brand. And here’s how you can get started building one:

First, get to grips with what exactly an employee value proposition is. Think of it as the  answer to these three questions:

  • Why would I be excited to apply for a job at X?
  • Why should I work at X rather than Y?
  • And why should I continue to work at X?

Now, this isn’t about having a ping-pong table in the office or about selecting a couple of good-looking perks from a list. It’s about digging deep, identifying your truly differentiated company values, and authentically applying them to every aspect of your employee’s experience. Being clear on your values and what they mean when working with your company can go a long way in reducing the likelihood of bringing on board the wrong person.


Finding those mythical right-fit employees is one thing. Attracting them is another. But keeping them is where an aligned and authentic employee value proposition really counts.

Communicate your core purpose, mission, and values

  • Define what makes your company unique, beyond products or services so that your company resonates with like-minded talent. This helps people figure out WHY they want to work for YOUR business outside of the standard of roles, responsibilities, and remuneration.
  • Clearly articulate your company’s mission and values AND how they relate to your ways of working and team dynamics. This helps people build a picture of what the day-to-day at your company is like, beyond just roles and responsibilities.

Align your benefits to your values where applicable

  • Does your brand value progression? Make training not just available, but interactive and encouraged!
  • Do you value performance? Bring in those bonuses! 
  • Do you value freedom? Practise what you preach by having objective-based assessments and remote work!


Be authentic in your brand personality

The part that most people think matters least – but actually matters most – is brand personality and team culture. Both are intrinsically linked. People want to work with people they like at a company they align with.

Do you and your team operate with type A go-getter energy 110% of the time? Then that’s who you want to attract. Are you all about empathy and collaboration? Or about balancing ambition with work-life balance? Everything down to the brand personality and tone of your job ads plays a part.

Whatever your company’s vibe is, figure out how to express it in words. You want to be authentic so that people can decide if you’re a good fit for them.

So now you know how to stand yourself up in the employer branding space – but how can you stand out? How do you differentiate your company from the many others who have also figured out their authentic and aligned employer brands?


Set yourself apart and stand up for what you believe in

Don’t be the safe choice for most candidates – be the obvious and exciting choice for a select few.

Think about this: you don’t actually want everyone to relate to and like your brand. You don’t want everyone to think,’I should apply there.’ Instead, it’s about getting the right people to think, ‘That sounds like my kinda place – time to write them one hell of a cover letter.’ 

It’s not the quantity of applications, but the quality of applications that truly counts.

Because talent and experience are only half of what you’re looking for. A good team and culture fit, especially with smaller businesses, makes a huge difference. Faster onboarding, better productivity, less employee turnover. 

A few years ago, we worked with a client on their employer brand. We ended up with a brand that loudly and proudly announced to potential employees that they’re a company that celebrates and commiserates in the same way. That is, with curry and a beer. Now for some, that’s a sure NOPE. But for others, that’s exactly what they’re after.

Remember, when most people are applying for jobs, they’re sending out dozens, or even hundreds of applications. What you want is to be the one opportunity they applied for this week that they got extra excited about and are really hoping to hear back from! That emotional connection only comes from being highly specific and therefore highly likeable… which means for others, you might be equally unlikeable.


But just to throw one last spanner in the works – employer brands aren’t about building a cookie-cutter solution to churn out a cult of ‘perfect on paper’ employees. For the best performance of your brand and business, you want to build a team that is diverse, but highly aligned with your culture. 

In summary, you want your employer brand to attract people who are:

  • Aligned with the core purpose and values of your brand
  • Delighted by your differentiation in ways of working and team dynamic
  • Bringing their own brand of personality and unique perspectives to create a complementary culture fit

And this is only the beginning. So, if you’ve read right to the end and are thinking you could use some help finding your tone and formulating your employer brand, BrandSight is a great place to start.

Email us to find out more!