Better employer branding is in sight

Ally Potter, Senior Brand Consultant for ThirtyThree US

Ally Potter

As Senior Brand Consultant, Ally leads the development of effective and targeted employer brand strategies, audience planning and creative positioning – all of which are rooted in internal and external research. Ally has worked on an extensive range of employer brand and employee engagement projects globally across North America, Europe and Asia. She’s developed brands for clients in a diverse set of industries, too; from aviation to retail, technology to finance and many others in between!
Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more.

We hear it a lot: ‘We did some research on that. It was a little while ago now…’

The EVP from before you opened offices in South America. The external perception survey from when you had problems in your supply chain. And the social media audit from when Myspace came as standard.

Ask yourself: what’s changed in your business and the world since you ‘did some research on that’?

It’s fair to say that strategic research is always a good idea. Executed well, it brings wisdom to light far beyond its remit and boasts a long shelf life. It guides informed decisions, builds trust throughout the business and helps to bring better, bolder answers to your challenges. Logic leads to magic, after all.

But how often are you using outdated insight as the foundation for your planning?

Let me share something relevant. A few weeks ago, something shiny caught my eye from the bookshelf in the corner of our office. The bright yellow cover of Marty Neumeier’s The Brand Gap promised to tell me how to bridge the distance between insight, business strategy and creative design. Perfect, I thought. The Holy Grail of great branding.

As I ploughed through the pages — the font size was satisfyingly large — this paragraph jumped out:

“You can tell which brands are charismatic…Brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike…have become modern icons because they stand for things people want, e.g. joy, intelligence, strength. Smaller brands can also be charismatic. Companies such as John Deere, Google, Cisco…all exert a magnetic influence over their audiences.”

I re-read the last sentence. Google? A smaller brand? Intrigued, I flicked to the front and looked for a publication date. 2006.

Now it’ll be no surprise Google has reaped the rewards of incredible brand growth over the past 12 years. But for a so-called smaller brand to become the most popular employer brand (regardless of audience) on almost every survey we run at ThirtyThree is unprecedented.

It shows that things change, quickly and often in ways unexpected. So, if you always rely on what used to be the case, or what was important back then, or the decisions painstakingly made by a predecessor, you risk losing sight of the bigger picture. You don’t keep up with the changes that characterize the world as we know it.

What does that mean for developing your employer brand? It means you should always be thinking about insight, however formally or informally you choose to gather and apply it.

It doesn’t mean crafting a new EVP every year or blowing the budget on weekly focus groups. It means regular incorporation of the latest insight and audience trends into your attraction and engagement strategies, whether through primary or secondary research.

That’s why we’re increasingly working with clients who may think they have the basics of their employer brand right (and we agree with them), but who need to refine their strategy and messaging based on what their business needs and what candidates are looking for right now.

Here are three practical ways to start that process:

1. Firm up your objectives

We see many employer brands that have been developed organically over time, with lots of different contributors. Take a step back and establish if you have clear, achievable and measurable objectives. Are they still relevant? Are they widely agreed? And are they ensuring your employer brand acts as a lever to achieve your organization’s strategic goals?

2. Reacquaint with your audiences

Make sure that you really know who you’re talking to and what they want to hear about. Is your messaging still appealing to the people you’re trying to influence? Are you sharing those messages on the right channels? A quick online survey with your critical job families can give you a feel for what’s working and give you food for thought for what could work harder for you.

3. Refresh your creative thinking

Sometimes it’s not about developing a whole new concept but refreshing the current design elements that’ll have the biggest impact on your audience. Your messaging might still ring true, but perhaps it needs a fresh lick of paint. Or maybe your creative concept stands strong, but it’ll truly come alive with new and authentic employee stories from across the organization.

To us, research and insight doesn’t have to mean a drawing whole new map. Often, it’s a simple detour that opens everyone’s eyes to a whole new landscape of opportunity.

To learn more about how we can work with your organization to enhance your attraction and engagement strategies through research and insight, visit or contact us at