Customer Story / 

Employer Branding Academy: How Universum works with online learning to help customers succeed

Universum is one of the leading Employer Branding specialists in the world and helps organizations to attract, recruit and retain the right talent. One of their key offerings is the Employer Branding Academy – an online training for those who want to learn the latest in Employer Branding.

In this story, Eva Carlson, responsible for the company's Academy, explains how it was created and what they learned along the way. She also shares her best insights related to online training.


Hi! What do you do at Universum and what does it mean?

- I could probably have several titles but my official role is Product owner for our Employer Branding Academy.

Tell us a bit about Universum.

- We specialize in Employer Branding. It started with student surveys in 1988 for companies that became interested in how they were perceived as employers. Today, we are one of the most respected Employer Branding specialists in the world. In short we help companies attract, recruit and retain the right talent. And we work globally.

How many are you and what departments do you have?

- We have our head office in Stockholm but also satellite offices in New York, Singapore, Berlin and Paris, among other places. We are currently about 200 employees and primarily have four departments that all work with customers, only in different ways.

Analytics works with surveys, partnerships with universities and such to collect data. Advisory are the consultants who, among other things, create EVP:s for clients. Activation focuses on campaigns, visual identity, etc. And then we have Academy which is our training in Employer Branding and my area of responsibility.

You work with a learning platform to share knowledge.
Who are you conveying knowledge to through it and why?

- What we have is an online course in strategic Employer Branding. For this course, we gather our colleagues' knowledge, lessons and experiences from recent years, as well as trends and the latest best practice. This is a comprehensive course that covers how you best work with Employer Branding from A to Z in a structured way. In the end, you will be certified. To some extent we do this to educate the market – Employer Branding is becoming increasingly important now!

I package the training, manage and update the content, help the team with the participants, host webinars, etc.

The Academy is included in the Universum package we call memberships, but anyone can buy the course through their companies. In recent months, we have also offered it for free to those who have registered from Ukraine – a small gesture to help them in their careers or if they need to apply for a new job.


“We had the first version in 2014. Back then, an agency built the course that was available on a simpler site. We had to contact and pay the agency for each update.”


What does a typical journey look like for a learner?

- The learning journey is often mixed. For everyone attending the blended program, we first have an interactive kickoff with several virtual sessions. They also go through the four online modules which is the foundation of the course. Finally, they put together a project and present it at a certification day along with other participants. There, they can take inspiration from each other, give tips, advice and feedback one another.

They immediately get to practice what they’ve learned and receive a diploma.

It takes about ten weeks to through the modules in the blended program. However, some do the entire training on their own over a longer period of maybe six months, but also do a final project to get certified. Certifications usually takes place on the last Friday of each month.


How was this knowledge conveyed before you had Learnifier?
Why did you need a learning platform to begin with?

- We had the first version in 2014. Back then, an agency built the course for us and the material was available on a simpler site. We had to contact and pay the agency for each update. In 2017, Universum bought Learnifier. When I started, my task was to move all the material in a good way to Learnifier's platform.

Before the pandemic, we also had a lot of physical learning opportunities, live kickoffs and live certification days, in different cities around the world. Having everything digital is more scalable, but live sessions give a lot of energy. We hope to have physical opportunities again and at the same time give the participants access to the online training.

“There’s always something going on and things need to be constantly updated. Therefore, it’s very good that we’re able to do everything ourselves.”

How did you create your courses? Who has been involved and why?
What is the process look like from start to finish?

- I have built most of the course. But we’ve also engaged many people internally in the creation of the films and images we use. One thing I learned quickly was that an online course should not have a lot of text or only text.

We have used some films that our agency helped us produce, but now we make our own in our studio. It’s a simple room with a "Universum-branded" background on the wall, some cameras, a presentation screen, microphone, etc. Good light and sound are most important.

It doesn’t have to be perfect like a commercial film production. We just want the content to be good and authentic. We also say this to our clients when they want to make films.


As for scripts and such, I provide our employees questions from the participant's perspective, such as “where should I start if I want to create an EVP?”. How they wish to answer the question is up to them. But they must speak directly to the participants and address them as “you”.

When we had a big conference here in Stockholm, we invited colleagues from for instance the USA and Singapore into our studio and let them answer questions on various topics.

What has been the biggest challenge?

- There’s always changes going on in the employer branding world. Therefore, it’s very good that we’re able to do everything ourselves.

What has been the most fun part?

- The most fun is to see how the participants use what they have learned in their projects, and to get very positive feedback! We are constantly learning, of course, but we often hear about how much people have learned, and that they have finally got a structure around how to work with Employer Branding, which is our goal.

It is also fun to put together the final product – to gather all the best material in the learning platform and see everything in place.

What are your main tips and insights from your journey of creating trainings?

  1. Think hard about the purpose of the training. What do we want with this course? What does the target group need, what’s in it for them? And what do we want them to be able to do afterwards?

  2. Be very structured and clear in the communication of the online course. You easily get tunnel vision, while the participants see the course for the first time. For example, it should be clear how long some modules will take to finish, and exactly what they will learn in each module.

  3. Divide the modules into "bite sized" content. Rather more than content-heavy activities / pages.

  4. Combine different types of content – video, text, images, etc.

How do you define a good training?
How do you calculate ROI on your training efforts, and how do you evaluate the quality?

- A clear KPI for us is the number of people who attend the training and get certified. Our training is perhaps longer than a standard online course, which is why we provide support along the way so that they cross the finish line.

We also have a feedback survey, containing both a course evaluation and input on various elements such as the live sessions and whether they gained value from the certification.

What have you earned in time and/or money from working with learning as you do today versus how you did in the past?

- For example, we save time by not having to coordinate back and forth with an agency. It has also given us the opportunity to invest more time in creating the best possible content, ie focus on quality. Previously we could not update often enough due to costs, but now we can do it more regularly. This means that the course is always as up to date as possible.

What’s next? What do you want to do and why?

- Some may lack the time for an extensive academy such as this one. But we have the luxury of having incredible amounts of collective knowledge. Therefore, we will start creating smaller as a simple self-study setup.

Of course, we will develop our existing academy and update the content, but also offer several interactive virtual opportunities. The community is important to our participants, and it’s good that they can share their challenges and learn from each other. In the end, it is the participants who carry out the actual Employer Branding work at their companies.

Interview by: Rebecca Cannerfelt


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Rebecca Cannerfelt
Rebecca Cannerfelt