Employer Branding: How to Get Started (+ Our Free Canvas)

Follow our step-by-step guide to building a strong employer brand (+ download our free supporting canvas to work from)

Jan Söderström

What makes a successful company? Talented people.

And where do talented people want to work? In great and inspiring organizations.

Of course, attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent is easier said than done. In reality, it’s increasingly difficult for organizations to stand out as the competition is growing.

In this blog post, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to start building a strong employer brand (and get access to our free supporting canvas to work from!).

We’ll go over the following:

No time to go through the entire blog post? Download and print your free canvas to get you started! No need to give us your contact information, this one is on the house 🙌

⚠️ Make sure you consider each category to build the strongest and most accurate employer brand plan.

Let’s dive right into it.

Step by step guide to building your employer brand



1. Who are you?

Start by mapping out your organization’s identity.

Candidates and employees are increasingly seeking workplaces that match their personality and aspirations — This isn’t hard to conceive when we spend an average of 1/3 of our lives at work.

When communicating about your culture and identity, you’re increasing the likelihood to attract and hire right-fit talent for your organization.

If you haven’t defined your company’s culture and identity yet, have a conversation with your colleagues to pinpoint what best describes your organization and what makes it stand out on the job market.

The following questions should help you better understand your corporate culture:

    • What are the most common values among your colleagues?
    • What makes your company’s culture special?
    • What are the values your company stands for? Another important aspect of your organizational identity is your story.

Top employer brands such as Nike, Volvo, and Adobe are partly successful because of their compelling stories. Note that you don’t need to be a worldwide business to leverage storytelling. In fact, many startups successfully rely on storytelling to attract talent.

After all, people love a good story.

You most likely have a unique story to share about how your organization came to be.

One of my favorite stories is Hövding’s, manufacturer of the world’s safest head protection for cyclists.


Their “About us” page provides a clear explanation for how the company came to be, how it fixes safety and fashion issues for cyclists, and what drives them to keep delivering top-notch service.

If you’re struggling to write down your story, simply ask yourself:

    • How was your company established?
    • Did you overcome exceptional challenges that define who you are today as an organization?
    • What are your colleagues saying about working at your company?
    • Do you have unique anecdotes about how your products and/or services came about?

This should help you put strong words to describe your organization’s personality.

2. What is it that you do?

Prospective candidates want to know what your business is all about.

In this section, take the time to describe what your company does.

    • What problems do you help solve?
    • What do your products and/or services do?
    • Why would the future employees want to take part in creating, improving, and selling your product or services?

3. What makes your company incredible?

Why should the best talent on the market apply to join your company—instead of joining the competition?

Simply write down a list of reasons why your organization stands out.

Of course, those reasons will vary a lot from a business unit to another. I believe that the best way to gather a complete and accurate list is to sit down and ask your colleagues about it.

Display your successes

Candidates are more likely to be attracted to organizations that have received recognized distinctions such as Great Place to Work or received awards for successful projects and initiatives.

So, forget about modesty, and display your successes and awards in your employer brand messaging.

4. What’s your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?

Form an employee value proposition for your prospective candidates.

Your EVP represents your values, your culture, and all the benefits and support your organization offers to its employees.

Why do you need a strong EVP?

It matters because both candidates and employees care.

When presented with multiple opportunities, great candidates will run benchmarks and be naturally driven towards organizations with strong EVP that can guarantee their well-being and personal development.

What’s more, a study from Towers Watson revealed that employees are 5x more likely to be highly engaged if their organization has a strong EVP. High engagement that you can then leverage to show prospective candidates how motivated and involved your employees are.

A virtuous circle.

Your EVP should provide answers to the following questions:

    • Why should I work here?
    • In what ways can this company meet (or exceed) my needs as an employee?

Employees’ needs can be divided into four categories: Functional, emotional, self-development, and social.

Functional needs

Functional needs describe tools (such as computers, desks, company phone, etc.) or other concrete benefits (such as salary, food vouchers, etc.) that are necessary for employees to complete their daily tasks to the best of their abilities. Ask yourself:

    • How are you meeting the basic needs?
    • Is there anything extra that your organization does to fulfill its employees’ functional needs?
If functional needs are an essential requirement, they are not the most important factors for your current and future employees.

As an example, a study led by HR tech platform CutShort revealed that 85% of millennials say that their job is more important than their salary. Instead, they’d rather focus on developing their skills and expect their employer to support their professional growth.


Emotional needs

Do your employees feel engaged at work?

    • Is there something in your company that makes your colleagues particularly happy?
    • Is there something that you stand for that makes your employees proud?
    • What makes your employees feel connected to one another?
    • Do your employees feel comfortable sharing their emotional needs with you?
    • Are you able to provide emotional support to your employees during difficult times?
    • How do you foster a positive environment at work, and how can you improve even further?

Self-development needs

What do you do to support employees’ growth and professional development?

So-called benefits such as a Spotify membership or a foosball table won’t contribute to making your current and future employees happier. They want to know how they can grow with you.

Tell your candidates about:

    • Your mentoring and coaching programs.
    • How you support initiatives unrelated to your main job.
    • How you support employees trying to pivot their careers.
    • How you encourage employees to take more initiatives.
    • etc.

Beyond the individual benefits, actively supporting employee development will contribute to unlocking growth opportunities for your organization. After all, a company is only as great as its employees.

Social needs

No one would want to work in an organization where they don’t feel appreciated and valued by their coworkers. Such feelings affect communication, project management, productivity, and, in some cases, it can turn a healthy work environment into a living hell.

On the other hand, fulfilling your colleagues’ social needs will strengthen employee advocacy and, therefore, contribute to supporting your employer branding efforts.

Which brings me to my next batch of questions:

    • Do your employees enjoy working with each other?
    • Are they happy to be part of your crew?

5. Who is your ideal candidate profile?

What best defines your best employees? 

Defining your ideal candidate profile will help you create and distribute your employer branding content. Of course, the ideal candidate profile will vary depending on the vacant job. This is why you shouldn’t solely focus on demographics and the needed qualifications.

Instead, try to describe the emotional features or specific personality traits that you think are necessary to be a part of your organization.

6. How do you plan to communicate your employer brand?

How should your ideal candidates find out about your company?

You have many communication channels at your disposal:

    • Your career site should give prospective candidates a comprehensive picture of who you are.
    • Your social media channels should highlight your EVP and share content that reflects your corporate brand and identity.
    • Your employees. They are your best brand ambassadors. Do they have what they need to convey a positive image of your organization?

7. What is your candidate experience like?

What do you do to make your candidates happy?

Candidate Experience describes how candidates feel about your organization once they enter your hiring process. The easier you make it for them to discover your world and communicate with you, the more they’ll like what they see, thus increasing your chances to attract and hire talented people.

    • How can candidates apply to join your company?
    • How long is your hiring process?
    • How often do you communicate with your candidates?
    • Do you rely on video interviews to screen candidates?
    • Are you able to provide relevant feedback to candidates?

On another note, you need to ensure that all qualified candidates have a chance to learn about your company and why your organization  would be a great place for them to pursue their careers.

Read: are your career site and recruitment process mobile friendly? With 58% of job seekers looking for jobs from their phones, delivering a great candidate experience on all platforms should be a top priority.

To learn more, read Mobile Recruitment: Why it Matters and How to do it Well.

8. What do you need to succeed?

What is preventing you from building a strong employer brand?

This could be anything:

    • A brand new, responsive career page to attract new employees.
    • Access to your organization’s social accounts to spread your employer branding related messaging
    • A video interview platform to ensure a positive candidate experience from the very first contact with your company.
    • Assistance from your recruitment marketing or marketing team to produce relevant content or video material to support the employer brand.
    • Provide internal training to educate your colleagues about the importance of employer branding
    • An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to manage your entire hiring process from one tool.
    • etc.

You name it.

Note that, identifying what you need to build a strong employer brand will help you defend your case when meeting with higher management and validating budgets.



You now have everything you need to start building a successful employer branding strategy.

Download and use the canvas as a foundation when you start your employer branding development process. While you can use it as your own checklist, we strongly recommend using it in workshops with your colleagues to get the full picture of what it means to work at your company.

What’s more, this experiment will most likely help you identify what should be improved—thus helping you to strengthen your employer brand.


To learn more and turn your employer brand into a talent acquisition machine, download our Employer Branding Guide.