Marketers of Social Impact Organizations: Add employer branding to your 2021 priorities list!

After being in the marketing field for more than 20 years, to say that I often experience ahas is an understatement. I live for it, actually! Just today, I met with a fellow systems geek who showed me how he cuts his time in half when creating demand generation paths for his customers. I love the nuances of marketing and time-saving hacks, but what really rocked my world a few years ago was an opportunity to focus on employer branding.

Employer branding may not seem like a big deal, but it helps companies and organizations showcase intentional cultures and inclusive workplaces, which enables authentic communication for why they are an employer of choice. This is no small feat, but it reaps huge rewards. Employer branding is an incredibly underutilized aspect of branding and corporate communications. Take it from me, it is an easy way for marketing and human resources to partner for organization-wide success!

In my role at Nonprofit HR, I’m fortunate to work with dozens of extremely talented HR consultants and experts, many of which share a passion for employer branding. Naturally, there’s a massive client list from which to choose when it comes to organizations focused on the employee experience. Case in point, one of Nonprofit HR’s clients, National Older Worker Career Center (NOWCC), has been selected #1 in the “Best Nonprofits to Work For” by The NonProfit Times in 2014, 2015, 2019 & 2020! Check out their story!

So, how could it be that this very important brand aspect is not part of the average marketer’s playbook? Most marketers will stumble across this in practice versus learn about it in school or even via an internship or mentorship. Employer branding has been a seamless integration into my playbook, and even more so in this role, as it’s a shared discipline with HR. Having taught marketing at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I’ll just come out and say it: practitioners are totally missing out on this interesting and exciting aspect of brand management! Employer branding is hardly on the agenda of most marketing events for professional development, and barely graces the pages of marketing textbooks. Yet, this aspect of branding has made its rounds throughout the HR community and is part of their body of knowledge.

Another hidden treasure of employer branding is the opportunity to reinforce shared values and messaging around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), especially if your organization has a great story to share! Elevating exposure of your leadership’s commitment to DEI can have a positive impact on talent attraction. When messaging from employer branding is actualized in your HR practices and culture, it can certainly bolster talent retention, engagement, and belonging. This is one aspect of your employer brand you’ll want to play up, as it can also attract new partners, clients, and community followers! If your organization’s employees aren’t yet holding your marketing team accountable for showcasing a greater representation of equity and inclusion in how the brand shows up, they may soon do so.

As a marketer, being proactive will add value to your role as a thought partner. It will help you create a brand that reflects the people who work for the organization, which will land favorably in the communities you serve. Likewise, if your workforce doesn’t reflect the community you serve or want to attract, working with your Chief HR Officer (CHRO) and recruiters to design more inclusive campaigns and messaging is a reasonable marketing objective to champion. If the person heading your organization’s senior-most talent management function is not an HR professional, meet them where they are!

If you’re a marketer, you should make a beeline to your CHRO or VP/HR’s office. In today’s employer market and economy, you simply can’t wait. Here’s why:

-When left unattended to, the story of your employer brand is at stake

-Your MarComm playbook is missing a whole aspect of the brand experience

-Your organization’s talent is your greatest brand ambassador and their ability to authentically amplify your messaging is priceless

-You can partner with HR to increase employee engagement — which can ultimately lead to higher levels of productivity, employee retention, and often, stronger profits — plus you’ll get to contribute toward the creation of a culture of belonging

Your marketing capability and business savvy can help your organization maximize its recruiting dollars, improve the quality of spending in this area, and add to increased employee retention. Why? Because you’ll help HR create effective and more authentic messaging which accurately reflects the employee experience.

You might be thinking about that fantastic social ambassador program you created as an awesome way to engage your organization’s workforce. However, those forms of digital engagement programs are aspects of, but are not synonymous with, your employer brand. Every brand has something to celebrate. Getting to the root of that is first. Again, I’m fortunate to work with dozens of HR consultants who know employer branding through and through, so thought-partnering internally on this topic occurs regularly.

Thought-partnering on your organization’s employer brand can happen regularly, as well! There are plenty more benefits of employer branding and reasons to invest in it, not excluding the positive impacts on your corporate digital profiles for employer experience ranking sites such as Glassdoor. For the eager observer, aha moments are all around us when we’re open to seeing them.

HR Leaders: You can initiate the discussion, too!

HR professionals and social impact leaders, you too can initiate the conversation with your organization’s marketing leaders. Schedule a virtual coffee or lunch with them and share your ideas on co-creating campaigns which highlight the strength of your workplace, workforce and culture. Also, share how your HR and talent management practices increase the quality of employee and even career candidate experiences. This is a collaborative opportunity for joint storytelling through the brand! Trust me, your marketers will love it, brag about it to other marketers, and become your biggest cheerleading squad. In a nutshell, your marketing team, even if they’re not pros with employer branding, can be brought up to speed and will partner with you to string their communication objectives through all talent management lifecycle programs!

Back to my search for more marketing ahas! Drop a line, at abrew@nonprofithr.com,  and tell me what you love about employer branding and if this conversation has inspired you to pave new inroads with your colleagues.

Atokatha Ashmond Brew, MBA
Managing Director, Marketing & Strategic Communication
Nonprofit HR

Need help connecting with your organization’s HR leader about your employer branding ideas and initiatives?
Let’s talk! Email me at abrew@nonprofithr.com.