What is a brand? Well, I think (at least in the online recruiting world) we’ve moved past the original meaning: to burn a mark on an animal. The purpose of this type of branding was to indicate ownership – and prevent theft.
Jump forward a hundred years. In the early days of mass marketing, vendors needed an easy way to distinguish their products from the dozens of others crowding store shelves. The answer: putting a distinctive name on the product (the ‘brand’), like Coca-Cola, to set it off from the other caramel-colored bottled drinks. Thus, “a brand is simply the non-generic name for a product that tells us the source of the product.”
As the 20th century progressed, however, the ‘brand’ of a product began to encompass more – status and lifestyle, an emotion, or in fact pretty much anything the purchaser thinks of when encountering the brand. In other words, the brand became more powerful – and it became something that companies tried to manipulate even as consumers made up their own minds (for example, the AMC Pacer brand – already a bit odd – became forever linked with Wayne’s World).
So what does this have to do with a job board? Plenty. The minute job seekers and employers begin using your services, they also begin constructing a brand image. Does your site look a little bit 2003? Do you make it incredibly hard to search for jobs? Do ads pop-up at random? Hmm. Take a wild guess at the kind of brand you are building. Do you think it’s positive?
Note that all of this ‘brand-building’ is happening whether you planned it or not. Just the simple act of actually using a job board starts the process of branding.
Forget your marketing. Forget your partnerships with this association or that career fair. For most job seekers, their direct experience of your online recruiting site can have the biggest impact on what your brand actually is.
Yes, job boards need branding. But before you can brand yourself, you need to think: what are the core components of my service’s brand? Is it friendliness? A ‘cool factor’? Reliability? Innovation? Narrow it down (I suggest no more than 3 core components), and then use these to guide your review of the site (and of course, that means on the web and on mobile devices, too!). Is your site actually friendly? How so?
Final step: ask the users. What do they think of when they think of your site?
Adjust. Rework. And ask again. At some point, if you’re doing things right, what you want your brand to be will actually become your brand.[Want to get Job Board Doctor posts via email? Subscribe here.]. [Check out JobBoardGeek, the Doctor’s podcast!)