Employer Brand

The essential role of storytelling in Employer Branding

February 2021 Written by Papirfly

In this article, you'll learn...

How brands across the globe are enhancing their employer branding with strong storytelling and where this can inform your own approach.

  • Tell stories through your social media channels
  • Harness the power of video for effective storytelling
  • Construct career pages that are rich with narrative

There are few things that leave a more powerful impression on the human mind as a well-told story.

Whether it's a blockbuster movie or the latest ad for a global brand, strong storytelling captures the imagination of audiences and imparts messages, lessons and emotions that, when conveyed effectively, stay with people for the rest of their lives.

But the art of storytelling is not restricted to Hollywood or publishing houses – it also has a vital role in the persuasive power of employer branding.

The decision to join a company and remain there is largely driven by emotion. Prospective candidates want to feel what it is like to work for that brand, to experience how it will engage and motivate them day-to-day. Meanwhile, existing employees need consistent reinforcement of the purpose behind your brand, and their role in bringing that to fruition.

Good storytelling is essential in getting these points across in a way that standalone facts and statistics simply can't. 

Stories inspire emotions. They move people. They forge connections.

Here, we advocate the value of storytelling in employer branding and how it can greatly enhance your efforts to recruit and retain top talent, illustrated with real-life examples from top brands.

How storytelling conveys employer brand values

At a fundamental level, employer brand storytelling should be purpose-driven. This means it conveys a message or lesson that the reader/viewer takes away, having recognised the experiences and emotions of the characters within that story.

Take the timeless tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". Although you could simply tell someone the moral of this story outright, that if you lie too often than people won't believe you when you're actually telling the truth, framing it in its true ‘story’ context leaves a more potent, vivid impression as to why this lesson is so important.

Employer brand storytelling should take the same initiative. Simply presenting candidates and employees with statistics, benefits and perks of being part of your company will not inspire the same emotional response as a well-told story. 

They want to know what it feels like to be part of your team. 

What skills will they pick up?
What challenges will they face?
Who will they interact with?
What will make them happy? 

This can only be effectively conveyed in a well-constructed story, harnessing the history and values of your brand and the authentic experiences of your existing employees.

67% of employers believe their retention rates would improve if candidates had a clearer picture of their company's values (Glassdoor)

A compelling story is the most valuable gift that organisations can give their employer brand. To breathe personality and experience into the glossy imagery and polished messages. When done well, employer brand storytelling should:

  • Inspire available talent to become part of your organisation
  • Plant the seeds in passive candidates' mind that you would represent a great place to work one day
  • Provide the information on-the-fence candidates need to deselect themselves if they don't feel connected to your company values
  • Differentiate yourself from competitors within your industry
  • Consistently reinforce your brand values and objectives into your existing workforce, so they always feel connected to your company
  • Create internal brand advocates, who will in turn share their own stories that will inform and encourage future candidates

But, producing a strong story is easier said than done, and is something that many brands over the years have struggled to get to grips with.

It requires a firm understanding of your target audience's characteristics and ambitions. Emphatic content writing and creative direction. Knowledge of the most appropriate channels to use and a number of truthful employee experiences to lay the foundations.

Below we've identified some top-notch examples of employer brand storytelling and the lessons to take away from these, divided into three overarching categories:

Social media
Video
Career pages

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Employer brand storytelling through social media

75% believe companies are more trustworthy if their leadership teams communicate their brand values over social media (Glassdoor)

It's impossible to escape the pull of social media platforms in today's landscape, making them essential places for companies to promote their employer brand story.

Microsoft Life

The Microsoft Life Instagram page weaves powerful stories about what it is like to be part of their community through the journeys of their team members across the globe.

This delves into the real-life experiences of their talent, both positive and negative, and how being part of the Microsoft family helped them overcome any challenges and achieve their ambitions. 

By harnessing these authentic stories, from people representing all backgrounds, cultures and personalities, their IG page paints an extraordinary picture of how supportive the brand is to its workforce, which should encourage others to join.

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Salesforce

The #SalesforceOhana Instagram tag is all about emphasising the pride the company has in its employees. Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family, and by using this expression, it immediately creates a narrative that the people working for Salesforce are more than just employees – they are family, connected to each other and the brand as a whole.

This framework is then fleshed out with images, videos and stories of their team members worldwide doing fun and interesting things, often with other employees. This highlights the fantastic company culture within the Salesforce brand, making it appear as a welcoming and enjoyable place to work.

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Mailchimp

Mailchimp's Instagram page often presents behind-the-scenes footage of life at the company alongside the experiences of specific members of their team. These videos and imagery illustrate the culture of the brand and the humour and creativity of those working within it, framing it in a way that is very slick and aspirational.

Especially since the transition to more home-working, Mailchimp has also used their social media platforms to depict how they are bringing their remote workers together with community activities, from yoga and meditation exercises to group cooking classes.

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Employer brand storytelling through video

Video has quickly become the go-to source of content across the entire Internet, and represents a perfect medium to bring your employer brand story to life.

Zendesk

In one compact, well-structured video, Zendesk presents a clear picture of who their brand is, where they are based, what you will experience when you go there, and the type of people that you will be working with.

It blends the right amount of humour and irreverence to present it as a fun, light-hearted brand where you will enjoy working. But, it doesn't steer too far away from the actual work, illustrating how they make it exciting. Plus, it signs off by saying they hire interesting people with interesting backgrounds – a category most people would like to find themselves in!

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Etsy

After Etsy announced it would offer employees six-and-a-half months' parental leave, they produced this video containing interviews with their parent employees about what this support from the brand has meant to them.

This projects a powerful message to both existing employees and potential recruits about how much Etsy cares about its workforce, and how it doesn't present a barrier to their personal lives. For those with plans for having kids in the future, hearing these stories will provide immense reassurance that this company will continue to have their back.

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Heineken

The "Go Places" video by Heineken is incredibly clever and creative, depicting the questions and doubts potential recruits might have about joining their brand (or any other brand for that matter) and providing snappy, encouraging answers.

Through this, Heineken strongly positions itself as a brand where people can join and forge their own path and find their niche. By casting a large number of their employees alongside the main narrator and throwing in selective facts and figures like their 250+ brands and 70+ countries, it illustrates the scale and variety of the company in a way that is neither too corporate nor arrogant.

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Employer brand storytelling through career pages

Charity Water

Quit your day job and come change the world. Right from the opening line of their career page, Charity Water immediately tells the story of how working with them means you are making a difference, and reinforces that spirit throughout.

Weaved into this overarching narrative are distinctly defined perks and benefits, photos and videos of company-wide activities, and copy dedicated to the diversity of their employees. Blended together, Charity Water's career page emphasises that they are a brand that gives people a purpose in a welcoming, inclusive environment.

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VTS

The VTS career page effectively utilises video content throughout to showcase the unique experience that they offer for employees. The first element you encounter as you scroll down is a behind-the-scenes video that highlights their employees in action and tells the story of how they are transforming the world of commercial real estate.

Further down the page, VTS' company values are put in full focus, and then reinforced by interviews with employees explaining how these values work in practice. This is particularly important as while any organisation can say how they are different, the authentic testimonies of their workforce give these a lot more weight, and will signify to potential recruits that you are what you say you are.

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Twitter

At a time when Millennial and Gen Z talent is motivated by the difference they can make to a company, Twitter pivots off of this with their career page. The page focuses on how its workforce drives conversations across the globe and the values that underlie their organisation, from being totally transparent within their team, to helping people maintain healthy work-life balances.

Each of these is backed-up by beautifully produced videos spotlighting members of their team in a variety of roles, with each of them advocating the role they and others play in making Twitter the world-renowned platform that it is today.

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Bringing story into your employer branding

We hope that these examples of employer brand pieces that capably tell engaging stories about who their organisations are, what makes them different and why people want to be part of them will give you the inspiration you need to forge the same for your own company moving forward.

Storytelling is the most powerful weapon for employer brand professionals in stirring the right emotions from their audiences. Approaches such as those highlighted above are how you put candidates in the shoes of your existing employees, so they can vividly recognise what it would be like to join your team, and whether that aligns with their own ambitions.

As a final recap of how to maximise the potential of storytelling in your employer branding, we recommend you keep the following in mind:

  • Build a thorough, watertight understanding of your target audience, and use this to guide the direction of the stories you craft
  • Always remain truthful and authentic – fake stories and broken promises will only lead to low retention rates, and potentially harm your ability to attract talent in future
  • Where possible, adapt and adjust your brand story for the specific audiences that you wish to target
  • Leverage your existing employees to be the foundation of these authentic, purpose-driven stories, and give them all the support they need to tell them
  • Identify the most appropriate channels based on where your target audience can be found and the type of message you are looking to share
  • Experiment with different content mediums and make the most of each resource – one employee interview could inspire multiple videos, blog posts, images, infographics and more!

This is where BAM by Papirfly™ offers valuable support in crafting your company's stories. By empowering your team to produce marketing collateral in-house faster, easier and more cost-effectively, you can spread your employer brand storytelling further than ever before. All at no additional cost and without the need for specialist designers or external agencies.

Discover how far your employer brand can go with BAM – get in touch with our team today.

by Papirfly

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