Training and recruitment branding is notoriously difficult to get right, and as a result, notoriously poor.
There are several reasons why this sector is a tough nut to crack when it comes to branding.
Who are you creating your brand for?
- Is it the employers?
- Or, the employees?
Then, because you’re working with so many other brands, it’s hard to build and assert your own brand presence or position.
And finally, because you’re essentially in a person to person business, your audience can be as wide as “anyone and everyone” – and you know what they say:
“Aim for everybody, hit nobody.”
Sure, you might specialise in healthcare recruitment, or first aid training. But who are the audience for that?
To use broad strokes examples:
Healthcare professionals vary hugely in demographic. From younger people filling more junior roles, to care home managers who might be older, from people without a job looking for a new career, to highly experienced doctors and psychologists.
The net needs to be cast so wide.
First aid training is the same. Sure, businesses need to buy first aid training. It’s a legal requirement for companies of a certain size. But because your training is likely a one size fits all solution, who you’re selling to could vary from a creative agency to a car garage.
Again, the net needs to be cast wide.
And it’s for this reason that training and recruitment branding often falls apart at the seams.
In this post, we’re going to show some examples of companies who’ve gotten their branding right, and share some different ideas and angles for approaching it.
Let’s get started.
We discovered Talentful when we were researching for our project, Ablely.
They stood out a million miles against the recruitment and training landscape because they looked so different.
Gone was corporate identity 101. Talentful introduced an interesting visual identity and tone of voice to an admittedly bland market.
Talentful use a bright fire orangey red colour combined with a magnolia like off white. The orange grabs your attention, the magnolia keeps the website from looking super stark and contrasting.
They use a lot of hand-drawn elements, such as scribbles, underlines and illustrations. Much like MailChimp does with their brand.
Talentful don’t fall victim to the split audience problem though. They focus squarely on helping employers bring the right people in.
And they use success metrics everywhere!
Brand messaging such as;
- Our tried and tested methodology…
- Sustainable growth for over 200 of the most innovative & ambitious brands
- Proven success (followed by real metrics.)
They permeate their entire website with customer success stories.
From these easily digestible statistics, they roll quickly into a testimonial video, headline with “Don’t just take our word for it.”
They’re bringing a unique, almost casual, approach to the recruitment market. But rather than telling people how great they are, they’re showing it with real data, client testimonials, and case studies.
The Talentful call-to-action form is also wholly unique.
They’ve got their form set out to the right, but directly to the left, they list out challenges and objections their site visitors might be facing.
It’s a unique, and I’d bet, highly successful way to encourage people to fill in the form. They’re reminding people they have a pain that Talentful can help solve.
Given Talentful are trying to generate leads in the tech world, it’s no surprise that they’ve differentiated through identity and positioning.
Hat tip to the talented Talentful team.
Otta is a job search platform that, just like Talentful, focuses on tech and IT vacancies for startups and tech giants, mostly operating out of London.
The new Otta brand identity was designed by world renowned London based agency, Ragged Edge.
This is what they had to say about the project:
“Looking for work has become a numbers game. It’s a draining and often hopeless experience. Otta is now the antithesis of the corporate job platform. Instead of search boxes, overwhelming options and corporate waffle, it’s simple, bold and unapologetically expressive. Only when you’re more open about who you are and what you want can you find true fulfilment in what you do. So the Otta identity and OOH campaign invites you to amplify yourself.”
The first thing to say about Otta, is that without context, I wouldn’t have a Scooby-Doo (cockney rhyming slang for clue) what they do.
Luckily, brands are rarely seen in isolation.
A bright yellow background and waved bold black text form the basis of the Otta brand identity. They definitely look more like the market they serve, than a typical recruiter.
But I have a feeling that’ll go in their favour. The old adage “birds of a feather flock together” springs to mind.
If you can fit in with your target audience, you start to be seen as one of them, rather than seen as an external provider to them. And external providers always pose a risk.
This is brand positioning at it’s finest.
The brand messaging that Otta is built on is “amplify yourself / your calling is calling” which makes the loud colour palette entirely appropriate.
Coupled with the colours, Ragged Edge developed a range of bizarre 3D shapes, based around the idea of amplifying and growing, that come into play on the Otta website and print advertising campaigns.
It’s ambiguous, and only subtly related to job searching, but the messaging and positioning gives Otta the ability to blend with their target audience, whilst differentiating from Indeed or LinkedIn.
Ragged Edge makes corporate look good.
We found the Hyper Elite project over on Behance when searching for inspiration for a training company we were about to start working with.
However, we’ve never been sure if it’s real. For the sake of this blog post though, let’s pretend that it is.
The project entry describes Hyper Elite as a modern recruitment agency specialising in finding search IT specialists and sales professionals in startup land.
First of all I need to comment on the colour palette.
Like Talentful earlier, the Hyper Elite branding has steered into a bold red colour that you can’t miss. It’s beautiful on screen, but how well it converts to the real world, in print format, remains to be seen.
The logomark is a stylised version of two arrows coming together to form an H. This could be read as:
- Hyper Elite and their client coming together
- The job searcher and the company coming together, by way of H(yper Elite)
- Arrows mean focus and keen aim, meaning Hyper Elite don’t get things wrong
And I love this sort of ambiguous logo. It can be interpreted in different ways which I always find interesting.
The designers have also followed solid logo design principles, making the Hyper Elite logo design as effective as possible.
Within the identity design presented on Behance is a range of earlier concepts, which I’m a big fan of. When presenting design or branding work, it’s important to recognise earlier ideas that could have matured but didn’t.
It gives you something to look back on, or think about when strategising for forthcoming marketing or branding campaigns.
And to wrap up, the animations are particularly effective too. They grab your attention, and it’s easy to see how this brand comes to life on digital London Underground like screens.
Glassdoor is not specifically a training or recruitment company, but more a recruitment aid for job hunters.
- Search for jobs
- Review employers
- Compare salaries
And much more.
Glassdoor was founded by Robert Hohman, who also co-founded Expedia and Zillow. It’s a mammoth website.
But it’s brand identity isn’t particularly interesting, and the website is more function than form.
So how come it makes the list of the best training and recruitment branding?
Well, because of exactly that. If you have a first to market solution, then you don’t need the most outstanding brand or website in the world.
Before Glassdoor, nobody was aggregating reviews of employers.
When they launched – they not only had first movers advantage, but because what they were offering piqued interest with anonymity, they captured a huge amount of users almost right out of the gate.
The key takeaway here is:
Sometimes you don’t need to create an award winning brand identity. If you have a truly unique solution or offering, you can let that do all of the talking and hard work for you.
The Fifteen Ten, or 15/10 (that’s a problem in itself), branding won’t be for everybody.
But it’s not meant to be. Positioned as:
“A digital powerhouse for our clients. With a unique knowledge of recruitment marketing and recruitment web design.”
Even though the sentence structure is super weird, you can see how their branding starts to make sense.
They’re essentially not a recruitment firm. They’re a recruitment marketing agency and web design company.
Originally when I looked at the Fifteen Ten website and included them in this list, I thought they were a recruitment company specialising in placing web designers and marketing roles.
On that basis, this is what I had to say about them:
If you’re looking to attract top web designers, developers, and creative talent, then a sharp, sleek, adventurous looking website like this is a great way to do it.
It’s flashy, almost a little brash at times, and very in-vogue with it’s dark featured header. It looks like a creative agency website – which for attracting creative and developer types, is perfect.
The typography and code like elements are a beautiful pastiche of the development world, and combines beautifully with abstract video and animation to bring the brand to life.
However, as a creative agency targeting recruitment agencies, this thinking changes.
If you’re going to target recruiters with a sharp, tech looking, website like this then your offering should be crystal clear.
Cobalt is a brand that we discovered in our research phase for the Prime People project.
Specifically, we were looking at them when researching Macdonald and Company, the real estate and construction arm of Prime People.
First things first, they’ve steered straight into their name.
Cobalt is not only a precious metal, but also a well known blue colour, Cobalt Blue. Their word mark logo is typeset beautifully in Cobalt Blue. It’s simple and effective.
They’ve also went for a super simplistic website approach;
- Find jobs
- Find talent
- Work for us
Assumedly, people looking for jobs is their main audience base, given they’ve dedicated half of their home page to it.
3 big calls to actions make the user journey for the site pretty straightforward and clear which is always a big win.
Being clear and concise with your website is one of our top web design tips. There’s no need to overegg the pudding.
One thing I would say about the Cobalt brand, is I’m not sure on the use of their secondary font. The logo mark is so well executed, but I find the web font lacking.
I’m also not keen on the over reliance of wording, rather than breaking up the viewing experience with some imagery, graphs, or statistics.
I do however think their Work With Us page is executed particularly well, and the way they demonstrate their brand values is particularly well considered.
Brand values aren’t often brought to the forefront in the way they could be, so to see these prioritised makes a change.
Trojan Recruitment Group
Trojan Recruitment Group are an Australian based firm focused on placing people in the construction sector and related verticals.
And even from their colours and brand identity alone, you can tell.
If you showed me their orange logo on a blue background and said “Tony, guess the sector this lot works in” – construction would be where my head went immediately.
But that’s what’s great about it.
They know their industry, and like Otta from earlier, they fit in seamlessly. Hand in glove. Or more accurately, head in hard hat.
This brochure project on Behance does a great job of showcasing how the company utilises their brand.
Big statements such as “We Are Real” and “We are determined” adorn beautifully executed photography of real working people within the industry.
They split sentences with blue and orange text, with the benefits being brought out in orange.
The way they use language throughout their entire brand is worth commenting on.
Atop their website sits the headline “Find the right person, the first time.” Beautifully simplistic, to the point, and tells the user exactly what to expect.
Again, photography features heavily and helps position Trojan Recruitment Group firmly within the relevant sectors.
It’s quite a straightforward branding piece, but in the case of Trojan, going Route 1 isn’t a bad thing!
Ah now this is interesting. Craft Agency focuses recruiting within the creative sector. They’re right up our street!
But like Otta and Trojan, they’ve branded themselves to fit the industry better than Cinderella’s slipper fits her foot. Even their brand name features the word “agency” – which leans heavily into the creative sector.
From landing on the Craft website, you’d think you were on a creative agency website.
Block colours feature heavily in the header, with the Craft logo mark animated and changing every so often. It’s well executed, and looks fantastic. And it certainly appeals to designers!
The site uses grid layouts and references that designers would be familiar with, but others won’t. Coming from a design background myself, it’s easy to appreciate just how well crafted everything is.
But away from the little nods and design based Easter eggs, Craft keep things simple when they need to.
Job listings are easy to read, and easy to drill into.
Job postings that detail the roles themselves feature a flash of colour, some simplistic shapes, and outside of that, get out of the way and let the details do the talking.
Once you’re beyond the details, it’s straight into an application form. Simple user journeys are the way of the future.
On the other side of the fence, you have people they help to hire.
They open up with the bold “We shape creative teams” alongside block shapes and bright colours. It’s straight to the point.
Why overcomplicate things?
Craft not only deserves praise for their brand identity and way they look, but also the way they’re making things as easy as possible for all users.
I’m pretty confident that Nexwork is a fictional recruitment company. But it’s so unique and interesting that I wanted to include it regardless of that.
The brand designer behind Nexwork has clearly taken inspiration from MailChimp.
They’ve got a lot of hand drawn illustrations in there, but also borrowed some of their colour theory too. They’ve opted for bright colours that are fairly distinctive in the sector.
And on their business cards, they don’t even present a lot of the logo design, it hands off both sides of the card, meaning the brand needs to be memorable for reasons outside of its logo mark.
I’d argue that’s where the colour palette, typography, and style of illustration starts to pull its weight.
My only criticism of the brand is actually the logo itself. The N of Nexwork actually just looks like a rotated Z, which can confuse the eye.
What looks really outstanding though is the job matching and search portal they’ve visualised.
I wish there was more of the brand to digest – but that’s the problem with personal projects!
Either way, what’s there looks fantastic. I’m just dying to see some real applications manifest.
Bamboo Crowd do something entirely different with their brand. They go with a mostly typographic solution.
Much like Craft Agency earlier, Bamboo Crowd are focused on hiring talented makers, leaders, and thinkers. Placing roles for Interbrand and R/GA, it’s fair to say they can afford to get a little more creative with their branding.
I’d say that their site is a little confusing to look at, yet somehow perfectly executed.
- Visual Design – 10/10
- User Journey – 0/10, but we had fun along the way!
There’s winking panda animations, things sliding, text animating. It’s creative carnage.
But the main messages cut through:
- Recruiting “leaders, makers, thinkers” etc
- Grow your team
- Bold, curious, honest, team
- Find your next role
Among the carnage are some very well thought out and easy to navigate calls to action.
The black, white, and red are stark and contrasting, but it makes the information slightly easier to digest.
On job role pages, the text takes over. And again, like Craft earlier, they let the information do the talking. But those strategically placed CTAs hook you right back in.
There’s not a lot to comment on in regards to the Bamboo Crowd identity itself. It’s a nicely designed wordmark which I guess has acted as the inspiration for the rest of the site.
Their About page gives you a little more insight into the brand. They’re setting out their stall to be;
- And Different
They mix photos of cool areas of London with cool areas of New York, and feature their dog on their team section.
They’re recruiters for the creative crowd. That alone tells you everything you need to know about them.
Embrace the carnage.
The HireLevel brand and website has existed for a long time. It’s one of the sites I admired a lot and referred back to in the early days of Canny Creative.
How has it stood the test of time? (Canny’s website has been through roughly 100 iterations since then.)
Here’s the thing:
It’s clean, simple, and extraordinarily clear. They manage to simplify the two key recruitment user journeys within their hero section. They use 2 key messages, and split them by colour:
- I’m a candidate looking for a job (set on a red background image)
- I’m an employer managing a workplace (set on a blue background image)
They then use the “Hi” from their HireLevel logo as a clever way to lead into their introductory paragraph.
It’s a masterclass in splitting your unique users off to relevant pages, but also, in retaining site visitors that opted to scroll down further.
As you make your way through their site, you’re presented with their values, which encourages you to buy into the brand.
And then, the red and blue returns in the form of sector specific icons, helping again to split the remaining visitors.
By “bucketing” users like this, it makes it easier to talk about your very specific offer or service for that niche.
If you’re trying to talk to people looking for jobs in construction, then you’ll probably want to use a different language than if you were talking about jobs in marine biology.
HireLevel do a fantastic job of bucketing users quickly, and at opportune times. But not only that, on their more generic pages such as Home and About Us, they do a fantastic job of telling their brand story.
It’ll be a sad day when the inevitable website change for HireLevel rolls around. Unless of course, they stick to the principles they’re already following.
Headhunting the Best in Training and Recruitment Branding
Most of our lists of “the best in industry branding” tend to reach 15, 20, or even more examples.
As you can see, with training and recruitment branding, it’s been slim pickings.
But, the brands we’ve featured here have all attacked things from a different angle. They’ve thought differently about their brands, and that’s how they’ve succeeded.
They’re not boring, they’re not overly corporate. They think about their audience in detail, and design for that.
Training and recruitment branding doesn’t need to be miserably difficult. Sure, it’ll always be a challenge, but with the right brains around the table, you can make it happen.
Who’ve we missed? Want to see your brand featured here? Let us know in the comments below!