Recruitment Branding 101
Written by Paul Quinn at Quinntessential. As published
in Recruitment Extra, Oct/Nov 2002 issue, pages 16-17.
Russel Hanlin, CEO of Sunkist, once commented "An
orange is an orange is an orange
unless that orange
happens to be a Sunkist, a name that 80% of consumers know
and trust". How many Australian recruitment agencies
can lay claim to owning a strong brand that is recognised,
trusted and differentiated from competitors? The answer
is very few.
Why? Because many recruitment agencies see branding as
a costly expense with unmeasurable returns, and when the
going gets tough, expenses get cut.
If the lack of branding activity is any indication, many
of Australia's recruitment agencies don't fully appreciate
the bottom line benefit of growing and nurturing a strong
recruitment brand. The irony of this situation is that most
agency management would agree that people don't make important
decisions such as the choice of a house or the selection
of a job on a whim. Research has proven that strong brands
simplify a prospect's decision-making process. In positively
influencing the decision-making process of your prosects,
your brand has enormous potential to favourably impact bottom
Why should you invest in your brand?
A well defined, executed and sustained recruitment brand
will help you attract the prospects you want and help keep
them once you have them. Put simply, strong brands give
you an edge over your competition.
In the Australian recruitment industry, barriers to entry
remain low and competition for business is fierce - there
are currently over 2,000 agencies in operation. Adding to
the competitive landscape are clients who are actively pursuing
in-house recruitment strategies, challenging agencies to
demonstrate where they add value to the recruitment process.
Having a strong and differentiated brand with a relevant
message can help insulate against these factors, and protect
in situations where many less established brands are left
struggling to compete.
What's more, the realities of future demographic supply
and demand will dictate the need for recruitment agencies
with a desire for long-term survival to invest in branding.
Recent ABS data shows that about 25 per cent of the Australian
population will be over age 65 within 40 years (more than
double today's proportion) if the birth rate continues to
decline. In addition, recent US figures show that more than
40% of the current American workforce are headed toward
retirement in the next 10 years. Smart companies realise
that they must start winning the hearts and minds of our
emerging leaders today - they have long memories and it
takes time to build a strong and trusted brand. It's no
good waking up in 15 years and saying, "There's a huge
shortage of good talent - I didn't see this coming".
There are plenty more compelling reasons why companies
choose to invest in their brand. At its most powerful a
strong brand is able to help you achieve the following:
to choose your agency over your competitors.
sales without advertising - loyal customers will often return
margins - research has shown that people will pay more for
brands they know and trust.
Gain a business
edge that your competitors can never take away.
customers' decision - when they need your service they need
only to think of you.
confidence and trust before a sale is made.
Effective branding requires consistency.
People trust brands, and consistent delivery of the branding
message at every contact with the customer helps build people's
confidence. They like knowing what to expect, that it will
be the same.
Advertising expert Morris Hite once commented "To
establish a favourable and well-defined brand personality
with the consumer the advertiser must be consistent. You
can't use a comic approach today and a scientist in a white
jacket tomorrow without diffusing and damaging your brand
Consistency grows trust, and trust drives sales. BMW, for
example, has been calling itself "the ultimate driving
machine" for more than 29 years. Whilst BMW's tagline
has become engrained in our minds through consistent marketing
efforts over an extended period, many Australian recruitment
agencies don't bother to promote a tagline at all.
Four Steps to Branding Success:
Step 1: Research.
Recruitment agencies need to intimately understand the needs
of their client and customer base, and continually update
and refine their understanding of this information. You
cannot presume to understand what your customer's value
without asking them first. In establishing this information,
you dramatically increase the chances of developing a marketing
message that is both relevant and effective.
Step 2: Strategy.
The development of a branding strategy is a crucial step
to growing a strong and healthy brand. What is more, it
is a crucial ingredient to the ongoing success of your company.
In utilising the information gathered from the research
stage, and integrating this into a comprehensive branding
strategy that defines core brand values and unique selling
propositions, you establish a framework for branding success.
Step 3: Delivery.
In the delivery stage you execute the activities defined
in the strategy. The branding strategy should define what
messages get sent via which mediums at what time. The scale
and type of branding activities largely depend on your budget
and target market, but may involve initiatives such as print
advertising, direct mail, merchandising, sponsorship and
public relations. You must also ensure that your message
is continually communicated throughout the year. It's no
good planning a flurry of activity in February only to remain
silent throughout the winter months. Your brand is trying
to build a relationship with your prospects - relationships
require constant attention and nurturing in order to flourish.
Step 4: Measurement.
In much the same way that human personalities change and
evolve over time, your brand personality should not remain
static. You need to regularly measure changes in the needs
and desires of your target market and consider carefully
refining your branding message accordingly. For example,
an agency may decide to repeat the research conducted in
stage one and use the earlier results as a benchmark. Be
careful, however, when making changes to your brand. Coca-Cola,
for example, does not change their logo every time their
research centre uncovers a new market trend amongst teenagers.
Remember that when it comes to branding, consistency is
A Compelling Investment
"Trying to differentiate one recruitment agency from
another is like trying to tell the difference between a
dot and an upside down dot" - Candidate
Effective branding is all about telling your customers
who you are, what you do, and how you do it differently
in the most clear and compelling way possible. Your job
is to create a powerful impression that there is no other
product or service on the market quite like yours. Ultimately,
having your customers relate to your brand and elect to
engage your services, and then retaining their business,
is the real goal and the real victory.
is a brand?
Advertising guru David Ogilvy once described a brand
as "The intangible sum of a product (or service's)
attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history,
its reputation, and the way it is advertised".Put simply,
a brand is a promise. A promise to deliver a product, a
service or an experience. The brand is represented in a
huge number of ways - from your logo and tagline, from newspaper
ads to corporate websites, from the décor of your
building to the smile on your receptionist's face as s/he
greets you. To ensure branding success you need to take
all of these things into consideration and get them working
together to present a consistent and relevant message.
Brand Health Check
How Well Do You Know Your Recruitment Brand?
know what your clients, candidates and staff think about
brand reinforce why someone should choose you over your
branding message easy to identify and understand?
know your brand's core values? How well do you promote
brand promoted consistently throughout your organisation
and across all mediums?
does your brand align with your client and candidate
identified your Unique Selling Propositions? Does your
brand reinforce these differences?
have a brand positioning statement? How is it promoted
to your target market?
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