Consultants and agencies want you to think of employer branding like some sort of magic trick. A little research, a pinch of creative, a wave of a wand, and… tada! Words and images that will miraculously change the way people think about you. After a little applause, they’re gone, and you’re left with… some slides? A tagline?
A brand isn’t plug-n-play. Companies need to learn how to take advantage of the brand before it can create value. Even if it comes with an activation “plan,” your brand experts are usually gone long before you find out if it worked.
It’s slow, expensive, and is designed to impress rather than solve your problems.
I don’t sell EVPs. I don’t sell branding. I use those tools to get you what you really want: results.
Maybe you need better-quality candidates and hires.
Or you need to build your talent pipeline from scratch.
Or you need to lower your time to fill.
Or you need to fire some RPO agencies.🔥
Or you need to staff up a new location where no one knows you.
Or you need to integrate your marketing work with your TA messaging.
Or you just need to make your CFO happy.📈
You don’t need a brand. You need your problem solved, which involves branding. And maybe content creation. And strategy development. And training and support to your recruiters and hiring managers. And playbooks. And communications.
Rather than “sell” a bunch of deliverables, I sell (and scope around) results and deliver tham as fast and seamlessly as possible. Then I partner with you to make sure things “stick” and you get the results you wanted.
You've been told that projects like this take 3-6 months before you get anything of value. During that time, you have to patiently “limp along” in a system you know isn’t working until the solution is delivered. This is a process that puts all your eggs in one basket: if you or your leadership doesn’t like the deliverable, you’re back to square one.
I take a different approach. I want to get you to a place where you are making better choices in days rather than months. I use preliminary data to test and create messaging frameworks in the lead-up to focus groups, leadership interviews, and the final brand workshop. It is an iterative process that starts with initial data points to test messaging ideas that are refined via feedback loops. This avoids missteps, misunderstandings, tangents, and rabbit holes so we stay on the path to making your hiring better.
The process is designed to get companies of fewer than 2,000 employees useful deliverables as fast as humanly possible while developing the brand in an iterative fashion. It goes like this:
Your time investment is 6-8 hours over six months. You’ll be expected to delegate to others on your team and help connect me to other stakeholders, but your time commitment is kept minimal. ⌚
Every company and situation is different, thus every solution set is different. Perhaps you're not set up to make useful videos. Or you have some legal or regulatory limitation on what you can communicate on your career site.
Since you're buying results rather than deliverables, it is my job to find creative solutions that achieve your goals.
So how do I know what to charge if I don't know the scope?
The total cost will reflect your goal. You'll make a small payment upfront (10-20% of the total). After six months, we'll review the metrics and determine how well we've done. If we hit the KPIs, you'll pay me. If we don't, you won't.
This model ensures everyone is aligned with the solution and that no minor (but critical) details are getting missed.
Brand building in discrete phases (research, ideation, reveal, launch) keeps you from taking advantage of the nuances of a company that you discover in the late phases. Those subtleties are what make a brand feel more real to a candidate, but they get tossed aside in service of hitting a deadline.
Delivering content before the brand is finalized allows us to road-test messaging and ideas with the people who matter most: recruiters and candidates, leading to stronger results-driving branding.
Finally, the core of this model and methodology has been used to build employer brands for Recursion, Roku, Telecare, Groupon, Tradeshift, Enova, and a dozen more companies. What really works is isolating what makes you different and interesting, and then amplifying it across all channels. Think less “lipstick on a pig” and more “this bacon tastes amazing.”
I’m James Ellis. Hi! I’ve been doing employer branding for a decade, becoming a leading thinker and practitioner. I’ve published two successful podcasts (The Talent Cast and The Brand Plan), three books (Talent Chooses You, Employer Brand Handbook and Employer Branding for Small Business), and the most-read employer brand newsletter in the world. I've built employer brands for Roku, Recursion, Groupon, Enova, Telecare, and a dozen more. I’m based out of Chicago, where I live with my wife and daughter. [LinkedIn]
Bringing someone in to create results via employer branding isn't a simple decision, for you or me. This process works best with companies with 200-1,200 employees, generally in biotech, life science, technology or fields where new hires are expensive and time-consuming.
So the best way to start is with a conversation. Let's chat about your situation and see if it makes sense for us to make more solid plans.
If you're not ready to chat, but want to stay in touch, I offer a free weekly newsletter focused on talent strategy and employer brand. It's the largest of its kind with more than 3,500 TA professionals subscribing to stay sharp. Subscribe here in 10 seconds.
Otherwise, email me at James@EmployerBrandLabs.com and we'll find some time.