Branding in the Staffing Industry

462179393Branding is much more than the logo you use. Brand perceptions result from the cumulative touch-points customers have with your company. Your brand is only as strong as the weakest of these client connections. These are widely held brand truths that apply to companies across industries. How do they apply to the staffing industry?

Staffing firms have three basic audiences that collectively determine their brand image: buyers of their services, candidates and last, but definitely not least, their own employees. Branding efforts must start internally by deciding what senior management wants the brand to stand for. Brand attributes should be communicated consistently across all three groups and should be categorized as:

  • costs of entry (what all staffing firms need to do to compete),
  • competitive advantages (what your staffing firm does better than others) and
  • white space (open opportunities for differentiation).

Clients. To maintain and deepen relationships with their buy-side clients, staffing firms need to maintain the brand attributes for which they are already known (competitive advantages) while building others that are not owned by anyone else (white space). Many argue that the staffing industry is commoditizing. I disagree. It is too easy to declare commoditization and fall back on offering the lowest rates to clients. There are many areas for differentiation including unique candidate screening techniques, superior customer service, time-to-fill and segment specialization, among others.

PREMIUM CONTENT: North American Staffing Mergers and Acquisitions 2014

Candidates. How can staffing firms attract more and better candidates? Get to know them. Demonstrate to them that you care about them by taking the time to understand their strengths, personalities, career ambitions and compensation expectations. This will reap benefits not only in differentiating your firm in candidates’ minds, but also in enhancing your ability to deliver quality talent to your clients.

Employees. An employment brand enables staffing firms to attract high-quality employees. The value proposition of any employment brand is a combination of career development opportunities, compensation, work-life balance and other factors. Recruiting employees is only the first step. The external value proposition and brand promises that are offered to contingent workforce candidates and to clients has to be communicated — and demonstrated — from the top of the organization to all employees. These employees need to buy into and deliver on the brand promises in everything they do. Examples of doing this successfully need to be celebrated and broken promises called out.

Which of the three audiences above is the most important? External clients (and candidates) should always come first, right? Not necessarily. The best external brand positioning that isn’t delivered on is worse than a more believable value proposition that is consistently reinforced by employees’ actions.

MORE: 6 Key branding strategies

Philip Grabfield

Philip Grabfield
Phil Grabfield is Staffing Industry Analysts’ VP, head of marketing. He can be reached at PGrabfield (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Philip Grabfield

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