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How to Activate your Employer Brand

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Employer Branding

Having an employer brand is not enough. To realise your project’s full potential, you need to actively manage and promote it both internally and externally. In other words, don't just build it, broadcast it...

We've seen it before: an organisation pours resources into discovering and building its authentic, research-backed EVP and employer brand. It all goes into a lovely, neat document and then… tumbleweed. It sits there gathering dust.

But documents alone don’t attract and retain employees.

It’s how you activate and energise the employer brand you’ve built that will make a measurable impact.

Let’s dive into how to execute a solid activation strategy using the work Ph Creative did with VCA.

VCA's Employer Brand

VCA is a leading veterinary care organisation in the US with 35,000 employees, all of whom are committed to providing world-class medicine with hometown care to around 4.5 million beloved pets per year. This was a fantastic campaign, especially if you like animals, but the activation stage is where it really stood out.

Our challenge was to help VCA to:

Attract
Engage
Retain

Whilst facing:

 - New competitors entering the market
 - Misconceptions about VCA being “corporate” as part of Mars
 - An industry-wide talent shortage

With this in mind, we built out its EVP basing the pillars and messaging on insight designed to dispel perceptual barriers and highlight the advantages and opportunities of being a large and trusted network.

The proposition line was a powerful call to action for candidates: “The future of veterinary medicine is in our hands.”

So, how did we activate it?

Internal Activation

The goal with internal activation was to empower associates to use the employer brand and bring authenticity to the message.

VCA wanted employees to understand the brand but also bring something to it, so it wasn’t just words on a page or pretty images.

Taking a holistic approach to the internal launch, we provided things that could be used immediately, like:

 - Customised Teams backgrounds
 - LinkedIn header graphics
 - Intranet and newsletter graphics
 - Workday pop-up notification
 - And a launch video –  The Story We’re Writing Together

We also invited employees to share their stories both internally and externally.

Then we created onboarding GIFs to welcome new recruits, which they could share with their social networks. (LinkedIn is full of posts about people getting new jobs - this was a way of standing out and making those posts VCA-branded).

To keep the messaging authentic and consistent, we developed an employer brand companion and toolkit to guide people on how to use the assets.

External Activation

The goal with external activation was to build a cohesive, authentic, and targeted approach to recruitment marketing.

We wanted to find the right people on the right platforms with the right message, not just cast the net everywhere and hope for the best.

Knowing that 60% of people will look at a company’s social media when applying for a role, we prioritised a rebrand of the VCA social channels, making sure to include EVP-specific content.

And, as any social media manager will tell you: being on social media is like being at a party – you don't want to be the guest no one wants to talk to because they drone on endlessly about themselves. Similarly, you don't want to be the account no one wants to follow because you constantly put out job ads.

So, we made sure to split up more "salesy" recruitment content with valuable content that people can learn from or get excited about.

We also looked at digital advertising campaigns, targeting specific audiences with personalised messaging that built a story and served different ads depending on the person.

Employee stories were used in blogs, videos, and imagery, with a mix of UGC and more polished content that drew on advocates' stories to bring the EVP messaging and the brand to life.

VCA relaunched the careers website to include all that content.

The Results

Okay, the work might look great, but without tangible results, what was all the effort for?

To ensure content resonates, an activation strategy should be based on insights from the research stage. And once you’ve activated, it’s essential you continually measure your impact.

After the launch of its new employer brand in 2023, VCA saw some incredible results, including:

 - A 143% increase in unique visitors on the careers site year on year
 - A 67% increase in career website dwell time
 - Over twice the number of applications
 - Campaign cost per apply-click was $106.18

Here’s the thing...

Building an employer brand is just the start. The real magic happens when you activate and promote that brand, both inside and out.

VCA's story shows how important it is to have a powerful activation strategy that empowers employees and connects with potential candidates through genuine, targeted content. The impressive results VCA achieved prove that with the right approach to employer branding, organisations can not only attract talent but also save a ton on recruitment costs.

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