Employer Branding Recruitment Marketing

5 Employer Brand Launch Lessons from Rally Award Winners

5 Employer Brand Launch Lessons from Rally Award Winners
Profile photo of Erica Howes
Written by Erica Howes

Launching (or relaunching) an employer brand is one of the most visible projects that you’ll ever lead in Recruitment Marketing strategy. To help you crush it, we’re sharing pro tips from the 2021 Rally Award winners for Best Employer Brand Launch: ADP, McGraw Hill and Lockheed Martin.

5 Employer Brand Launch Lessons from Rally Award Winners
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What makes a candidate choose your company over a competitor? More than ever before, it comes down to your employer brand. But if you’re creating your employer brand for the first time, or you’re revamping it, it’s easy to get bogged down in all of the moving pieces. Fortunately, an effective launch strategy comes down to 5 areas:

  1. the depth of research you conduct to uncover your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) 
  2. the people you choose to feature your employer brand in action 
  3. the training, support and incentives you provide to ensure company-wide adoption
  4. how easy you make it for candidates to see your employer brand, and
  5. how well you adjust to changing candidate priorities

To help set you up for success in these areas, we’re sharing the work of the winners of the Best Employer Brand Launch category from the 2021 Rally Awards: ADP, McGraw Hill and Lockheed Martin. In hearing their approach, we hope you’ll walk away with actionable strategies to create your most successful employer brand launch yet.

Meet the winners


ADP is a global leader in HR technology, offering the latest AI and machine learning-enhanced payroll, tax, HR, benefits, talent, and more with over 58,000 employees worldwide. 

First place in the Best Employer Brand Launch category, ADP built a new EVP from the ground up to appeal to a new tech talent audience. As a result, they received 3x more traffic to their careers site than the previous year and more than a 70% increase in their application rate.

McGraw Hill

McGraw Hill is a global learning company with nearly 4,000 employees and is one of the “big three” educational publishers that provides customized educational content, software and services for pre-K through postgraduate education.

As one of the second-place winners in the Best Employer Brand Launch category, McGraw Hill leveraged candidate personas and revamped their careers site, social media, candidate communications and more to nearly double their average site visit time and produce 90,000 more page views.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is engaged in the research, design, development, manufacturing, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. 

Winning a second place award in the Best Employer Brand Launch category, Lockheed Martin (LM) refreshed, transformed and relaunched its global employee value proposition to produce a 28% increase in traffic to their careers site and a 41% increase in visitors clicking their “Join Our Team” button.

These are all phenomenal results, and show the impact that Recruitment Marketing can have on attracting great talent to your employer brand!

Here are our top 5 takeaways from these Rally Award winners on how to plan and execute a successful employer brand launch to upgrade your talent attraction strategy.

1. Research internally and externally to figure out your EVP

At the heart of your employer brand is your employee value proposition, which serves as your branding guiding star and answers such questions as:

  • Why do people decide to come work at your organization? 
  • What makes them stick around long-term?
  • What sets your organization apart from hiring competitors?

The more perspectives you can include in your answers to these questions, the better you can give candidates an idea of your authentic employee experience. 

For example, ADP first turned to existing ADP technologists across all the subcategories they were looking to hire for before building a brand new tech talent-specific EVP from the ground up. The Recruitment Marketing team even went so far as to visit ADP’s innovation centers around the world with a film crew to try to understand what an EVP for tech talent, by tech talent, looked like. This included focus group sessions, EVP workshops, round tables and department-wide surveys to learn everything from what tech talent wants to see on a careers site to how they would rank different EVPs.

ADP's Credo for their new employer brand

The credo that ADP ultimately settled on for their new “for technologists, by technologists” brand.

Lockheed Martin took a similar approach to uncover their EVP, spending months conducting extensive research to analyze market perceptions, employee experiences and leadership aspirations to pinpoint their EVP. They assembled an internal task force of data scientists, benefits specialists, marketing and communications professionals, recruiters and even experts from Recruitment Marketing and employer brand agencies. Together, this EVP development “super team” reviewed data from current employee insights and survey answers, outgoing employee exit surveys, business area culture surveys, interviews with Lockheed Martin executives and leadership, Glassdoor reviews, LinkedIn analytics and other qualitative sources.

Then, Lockheed Martin validated their EVP statement and pillars with an integrated project team of leaders and employee focus groups across the corporation globally. Implementing this employee feedback from employees, they landed upon the final messages to champion in their employer branding:

  • Employee Value Proposition Theme: Experience a Mission That Matters 
  • Statement: At Lockheed Martin, we apply our passion for purposeful innovation to keep people safe and solve the world’s most complex challenges
  • 5 EVP Pillars: 
    • Mission-focused innovation
    • Foundational values
    • Diverse career opportunities with meaningful work
    • Your health, your wealth, your life
    • Empowered to be your best 

Without going to these depths to uncover and validate their EVP, neither of these companies would know what makes their organization stand apart from other employers from an employee perspective — or, more importantly, how to effectively promote their employer brand to appeal to their target talent audience

2. Bring your EVP to life through employee stories

With an EVP established, the next step is to bring it to life so that you can begin to attract talent to your organization. The best way to do this is to humanize your employer brand by showcasing real employee stories

Employee stories can showcase great work, personal journeys, career advice and anything else that shows how employees are living out your employee value proposition on a daily basis. The easiest way to track these stories down is during your research phase, as you can take note of stand-out stories and enthusiastic employees along the way. 

This is the route that ADP took during their tour of innovation centers. By the end of their research, not only were they left with a concrete understanding of what tech talent wanted, but also a whole team of employee advocates. They worked with this team from day one to create new designs for careers sites and a new tech blog featuring contributions from ADP technologists.

blog posts created by ADP technologists

Examples of the blog posts created by ADP technologists.

And with the help of the film crew along the way, ADP was able to collect 242 hours worth of great video content to share online, including 52 videos for their Tech and Innovation playlist and 9 videos for their Women in STEM playlist on YouTube that they could use to effectively activate their new tech talent EVP.

ADP’s culture from the perspective of their Women in STEM.

Lockheed Martin also spearheaded video content as internal and external launch assets. They interviewed employees across different roles, business areas and locations to create a video content library of 7 videos, each one weaving together several employee stories to illustrate the company’s five pillars.

McGraw Hill followed a similar path but prioritized blog content instead of video. As part of their Behind the Cube project, they feature 1 employee a month who exemplifies company values — a series that singlehandedly brings an additional 300-500 page views per month to McGraw Hill’s employer brand.

McGraw Hill’s Behind the Cube project

An example of a featured employee in McGraw Hill’s Behind the Cube project.

Regardless of the format they use, all 3 of these examples have one thing in common: they highlight employee stories that humanize their employer brand and bring their EVP to life. 

3. Update your visual branding to communicate your employer brand 

Regardless of how much research and planning you do, your employer brand needs to be obvious to candidates on your site and throughout the entire candidate journey, or it’s not effective.

Whether you’re launching new visual assets or revamping existing ones, start with candidate hotspots like your careers site, homepage, job postings and social media profiles. When candidates visit your social and digital channels, it should be obvious what your employer brand is and how your employees live out your EVP. 

Lockheed Martin accomplished this by launching “Why Lockheed Martin” on their careers site. Here, candidates are invited to learn why employees join and stay with the company through the 5 pillar-supporting videos.

McGraw Hill followed a similar path, starting by completely redesigning their careers site to feature their new tagline and EVP pillars, as well as adding a new section on their homepage called “What our people say” to highlight employee quotes and videos. They also revamped their job detail pages by adding employee videos personalized to each job category. 

McGraw Hill's research-backed EVP pillars front and center for candidates

McGraw Hill placed their research-backed EVP pillars front and center for candidates to see when they visit their careers site.

4. Provide the training, support and incentives to ensure company-wide adoption 

For a truly successful employer brand launch, you need to give employees at all levels the training, support and incentives they need to promote your employer brand effectively. That said, to create a permissive and informed environment, a top-down approach often works best. 

For example, Lockheed Martin first soft-launched to their HR community and Employee Resource Group leaders with a suite of information designed to ignite them as early champions. It was next rolled out to talent acquisition leaders with a specially-crafted toolkit and training session to help them communicate the EVP message throughout the candidate journey. 

After full adoption of the recruiter toolkit by their TA leaders, the internal rollout then went to employees worldwide. Employees were given access to the company’s new Experience a Mission That Matters internal website where they could learn about the changes being made, as well as submit their own stories, share employee-generated videos, submit Glassdoor reviews and refer connections — all assets which would help the external employer brand launch. 

The internal website generated 11,000 pageviews in 2020 and employee feedback indicated an overwhelmingly positive reception, as shown through the following:

  • Glassdoor employee reviews doubled in volume
  • Lockheed Martin’s 3-year-running Glassdoor 3.6 rating increased to a 4.0
  • 40 Lockheed Martin employees shared their stories on their internal site, exceeding their goal of 25 employee story submissions 
  • 120 employee-generated videos were submitted

Another way to amplify your employer brand is through employee advocacy, which both ADP and McGraw Hill relied on to expand their reach. Whether through gamification with prizes, thought leadership opportunities or otherwise, you can incentivize employees to share their experiences at your company in their own networks to reach candidates you might not otherwise have access to. 

ADP’s Employee Advocacy Program

ADP’s Employee Advocacy Program makes it as easy as possible for their employees to share their work experiences with their personal networks.

To make the process easier for your employees, you can create a hub of content for them to pull from. This way, they don’t have to go through the trouble of creating content from scratch, but they can still modify it to be in their own voice and resonate with their audience. 

You can combine your employee advocacy efforts with promotion through your corporate channels, as well. For example, as part of their launch, Lockheed Martin published 8 social posts across their channels. Not only did these shares result in over 200,000 impressions and 2,600 engagements, but together with their other launch efforts, they also contributed to a 28% increase in traffic to their revamped careers site with more than 41% of visitors clicking the “Join Our Team” button.

5. Be ready to adjust to changing candidate priorities

In the span of less than a year, the landscape of work (among other areas) changed completely. The pandemic combined with social justice, political and environmental events caused many candidates to change, or double down, on what they wanted from their ideal employer, namely relating to workplace safety, flexibility and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

How quickly these changes happened point to the importance of staying nimble and open enough to change your employer brand to fit evolving candidate priorities. For example, even though they launched their employer brand at the beginning of 2020, McGraw Hill made adjustments both internally and externally to share the company’s actions on inclusion and diversity. 

This meant highlighting their inclusion efforts and representing a range of diversity in all of their external content. Similarly, McGraw Hill also changed their careers site to prioritize workplace safety and show how employees were working from home. They added an FAQ page about their hiring process and response to COVID-19 and created videos on virtual interviews and job searching during the pandemic that they shared on social media.

McGraw Hill addresses candidate priorities with dedicated content relating to COVID-19 and DEI

McGraw Hill addresses candidate priorities with dedicated content on its careers site relating to COVID-19 and DEI.

The key thing to remember when planning your employer brand launch is that, as seen from the past year and a half, your candidates’ priorities aren’t static; they can change in the blink of an eye. If you’re not adjusting your employer brand to align with these changes, then you’re likely going to miss out on key talent to competitors that are.


We hope the strategies and results of the Rally Award winners can inspire an award-winning employer brand launch of your own.

For more inspiration from Rally Award winners, be sure to read Jen Burn’s article exploring How Cisco Built a Champion Team to Conquer Employer Branding on TikTok.

5 Employer Brand Launch Lessons from Rally Award Winners
5 (100%) 1 vote

About the Author

Profile photo of Erica Howes

Erica Howes

Erica Howes is a Content Contributor for Rally and the Employer Brand Content Manager at The Employer Brand Shop. She enjoys connecting with Recruitment Marketing professionals in the Rally community to write about their stories, hear their experiences with industry challenges and share best practices.

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