#166 Introducing design thinking in employer branding with guest ‘Kat on Coffee’

Blog header #166 Design thinking in employer branding with guest 'Kat on Coffee' - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Applying design thinking in employer branding opens the doors to another level when developing the ‘product behind your modern employer brand’.

While the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ gives you a systematic strategic approach to communicating, branding and building a competitive advantage in your talent market, design thinking helps you to develop those areas and elements behind your employer brand.

This is an innovation in employer branding, and I’m so happy to introduce you to my friend Kat, behind the process of connecting design thinking and employer branding.

In this episode, my guest, Katarina Šonjić, better known as ‘Kat on Coffee’ and I discuss the application of design thinking in employer branding.

We introduce the concept of design thinking and its human-centered approach to problem-solving. You will learn the benefits of using design thinking in employer branding, such as increased empathy and collaboration.

Our conversation explores how design thinking can be applied to onboarding processes and the importance of considering the entire employee experience.

We also discuss the challenges of integrating design thinking in employer branding, along with the skills and resources required for successful implementation.

The episode concludes with a discussion of emerging design thinking trends in employer branding and how to connect with Katarina for further information.

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What is design thinking?

If you are not familiar with design thinking, let me explain this concept to you first.

Design thinking is a creative approach to problem-solving that’s widely used in various fields, from design to business and education to make sure your solution is user-friendly. It helps you see the problem from the user’s perspective and come up with a solution that makes a real difference for the users.

Imagine you’re a chef trying to create a new dish. You wouldn’t just throw ingredients together and hope for the best. Instead, you’d think about who will eat it, what flavours they like, and how you can make it delicious and unique. That’s a bit like design thinking.

Here’s how the design thinking process works:

  1. Empathise: First, you put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re designing for. It’s like trying to understand someone’s taste in food before you cook for them. You ask questions, observe, and try to get a feel for their needs and challenges.
  2. Define: Next, you pinpoint the exact problem you need to solve. This is like deciding that your goal is to make a dish that’s both spicy and sweet.
  3. Ideate: Then, you brainstorm a bunch of ideas. No idea is too wild at this stage. It’s like thinking of all the possible ingredients and combinations that could make your dish both spicy and sweet.
  4. Prototype: Now, you create a basic version of your solution. In cooking, this would be like making a small test batch of your dish to see if the idea works.
  5. Test: Finally, you test your solution. You let people try your dish and give feedback. Based on what they say, you might tweak the recipe until it’s just right.

Design thinking as a process is fun because it can be very collaborative and inclusive. You are likely to go back and forth between these five steps to iterate the outcome.

The key to this process is to understand your target audience’s needs and be as creative as possible in solving their problems. That’s why the process helps you to continuously improve your solution.

It’s a way of thinking that helps you develop innovative and user-friendly solutions, whether you’re designing a product, a service, or any HR process.

Design thinking in employer branding

According to Katarina, design thinking in employer branding is an innovative methodology that aims to get organizations or people closer towards innovative solutions.

“When we speak about innovation or think about this topic, people mostly think about some super forward-thinking, cool solution regarding technology. When we speak about design thinking, it’s not like that. Innovation can just be some additional step in your process, a tone of voice that you’re having, an additional channel you’re going to use for your communication or just the approach that you’re going to have towards your people.”

Applying design thinking in employer branding does not have to be a huge innovation. In fact, applying this methodology suits well in improving what we already have or offer, or creating a more positive shift in the over all employee or candidate experiences.

The reason why Katarina loves design thinking in employer branding so much is because: “We tend to forget that small things can really impact these experiences a lot.”

“For example, implementation of AI, of course, is important, but maybe they [job seekers] just need for you to answer to their job application, you know, don’t forget about them. And this approach can get you closer to what people actually need”, Katarina explains.

Using design thinking in developing the onboarding process

As an example, Katarina talks about applying design thinking in the development of the onboarding process.

“So.. with the onboarding process, it’s something that either it’s designed, or it’s just happening. You have a person that is actually the centre of your process. For example, someone who came to your organisation three months ago. And then you will ask them how you can improve this process and design it together with them. So this is the crucial change [when applying this methodology]. We ask our people what they see and how they feel, and we are co-creating with them. We are not guessing what they need. We [come to] know what they need. And they are with us in the process. And this is like the biggest impact I’m seeing and maybe the biggest benefit”, Katarina says.

Takeaways from this design thinking in employer branding -episode

  • Design thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving that can be applied to employer branding.
  • Using design thinking in employer branding can lead to increased empathy, collaboration, and a focus on the employee experience.
  • Design thinking can be applied to various aspects of employer branding, including onboarding processes and strategy development.
  • Integrating design thinking in employer branding may require overcoming challenges such as time constraints and demonstrating return on investment.
  • Facilitation skills, an understanding of design thinking tools, and a willingness to adapt are important for successful implementation of design thinking in employer branding.

More about my guest, Katarina Šonjić

Employer Branding Strategist @Kat on coffee; Founder @Empple; Co-founder @Employer BrandSprint

Known as “Kat on coffee,” Katarina is an expert in employer branding and a taekwondo trainer.

She believes bringing people together and sharing knowledge is the right way for us all to progress, and that’s why she actively volunteers and enjoys sharing her experience with the community.

About Katarina:

  • She is a member of the Empple team, where she most enjoys shaping and preparing programs.
  • Co-founder of Employer BrandSprint, a set of tools that simplify and structure employer branding processes.
  • A facilitator at the DesignThinkers Academy and particularly committed to applying this methodology in employer branding and HR processes. 
  • Loves coffee and enjoys bike riding in nature.

Kat on Coffee website

Kat on LinkedIn

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