Opinion: A ‘brand’ new approach to hiring

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Black walnuts. Banks. Hotels. Nonprofits. You name it, we’ve branded it. This year, a new branding case study was added to the Revel Advertising roster: Branding for Employee Recruitment and Retention.

You might already be wondering why and how branding can be applied to increase the effectiveness of your recruitment efforts. Stick with me. I promise the following paragraphs will be worth your five-minute investment.

If you’re anything like the majority of my clients this year, you’ve probably struggled at some point with hiring and employee retention. There are plenty of theories that speculate as to why attracting suitable talent in 2021 is as elusive as a two-horned unicorn (a “ducorn”?).

The latest research, however, offers compelling evidence that today’s job seekers aren’t searching for more “shiny things.” Contrary to popular water cooler conversational theory, what job seekers really want is to work somewhere that will make them feel good, align with their purpose and contribute to their overall happiness. Hinge Research Institute’s 2020 Employer Branding Study found that 57% of job seekers across all career levels consider culture to be just as important as pay when evaluating potential employers.

It’s not enough to simply tout an “awesome company culture” and expect the applications to come rolling in, though. When everyone is shouting the same thing, your voice needs to differentiate and attract. That’s where brand strategy comes into play.

Company culture branding is the act of packaging and presenting the qualitative aspects of working at your company in such a way that it resonates emotionally and feels tangible. When designed strategically, creatively and holistically – it’s extremely effective.

One example to illustrate and reinforce this idea is from a national manufacturing client we worked with earlier this year. For every hour the company was unable to operate fully staffed, it was literally losing thousands of dollars. The team at Revel was tasked with designing a new hiring campaign, which involved company culture branding, and we needed to execute quickly. Our holistic, multifaceted approach started with research and discovery to help inform the campaign in ways that proved to be uniquely resonant with the target applicants.

The resulting brand-focused hiring campaign message was combined with strategic media and a rapid activation plan that led to immediate results that far surpassed the client’s expectations; not only did the company receive more applications than originally projected but also the quality of applicants was on par as well.

Painting your company culture in a way that is both vivid and transparent will attract better-fitting candidates, and those employees are likely to stay with you longer.

Company culture branding should be infused internally as well, in a way that helps turn your current employees into your biggest fans – or as I like to call them, brand evangelists. Creating a story and unique brand around your culture boosts mental stickiness and plants the seeds for these budding brand evangelists to emerge. Not to mention: Happy employees are more likely to refer quality candidates to your company, and those referred candidates (turned new employees) will generate better return on investment.

I’ll leave you with this question: Based on your current hiring ad alone, would you work for you?

Allow me to ask again, but this time we’ll remove any potential bias. Try this five-step test:

  1. Print out your current hiring ad, along with those of your closest competitors.
  2. Take a Sharpie and black out the company names.
  3. Shuffle the stack. Lay each one out side-by-side.
  4. Can you and your front-line employees correctly identify your own company’s ad? Do you catch your own eye?
  5. Is this the best possible presentation of your company culture?

Chris Jarratt is chief creative officer and co-founder of Revel Advertising, specializing in the strategic development, design and stewardship of brands. He can be reached at chris@reveladvertising.com.