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Award-Winning Employer Brand Strategy: NatWest Case Study

2 min read.


Lois Payne Lois Payne



Employer Branding

You've heard it before, but your employer brand is only as good as its ability to adapt. If wider circumstances change and your message hasn't lost relevance or resonance with your target audience, you can guarantee it won't achieve the return on investment you need to secure the business. 

When the pandemic hit, NatWest Group stepped up to the plate and, with the help of Ph.Creative, received a gold EMBA award for their diversity and inclusion recruitment campaign.

But what exactly does an award-winning campaign for a remote audience look like? And how do you connect with talent when you can't meet them?

Let’s break down the blueprint that led the bank to success.

The Problem

As one of the UK’s most recognisable high-street businesses, NatWest is committed to being a diverse and inclusive employer. Historically though, recruiting students from diverse backgrounds had proven difficult, and the organisation needed to find a way to engage with them in a meaningful way.

The aim was to recruit more black and diverse students from under-represented groups for its internship and graduate early career programmes, recognising that a diverse talent base was the key to improving its services and culture.

But given the added complications surrounding recruitment activity caused by the pandemic, NatWest had to attract the attention of its target audience without the ability to host face-to-face live events, and still create a safe environment where talent felt no question was too small.

An environment that encouraged dialogue and learning, not corporate platitudes.

The Concept

The company conducted extensive research that highlighted some of the barriers under-represented groups face when starting their career journey.

It looked at several online platforms to determine the best way to engage with the talent audience and settled on both Zoom and Meet & Engage.

The idea was to hold a mini-series of online events under the banner of “Represent” across these platforms, helping the audience to visualise themselves comfortably in a role at the bank, alleviate their worries about not fitting in or feeling isolated – all while providing them with real value and practical advice.

The Approach

After testing the strategy, campaign identity and messaging with the target audience before launch to ensure it was sound, NatWest conducted the events.

Each session featured existing black and diverse colleagues who provided accurate, honest information about the company’s culture, their experiences, and the opportunities that early career programmes provide at the bank.

Alongside sessions that offered support regarding the application process - mainly focusing on online tests, assessments and interviews which the research showed were of particular concern to this talent base – NatWest held sessions for current employees to share inspirational stories of their experiences in the company, and sessions with employees that were one year into their graduate or internship programmes to share what they had been doing, how they had developed their skills, and what the future had in store for them.

The bank also highlighted the work of its employee-led networks, such as the Multicultural Network and Black Professionals Network, to illustrate the depth and breadth of support available across the organisation.

It worked with ambassadors to create a TikTok style invitation video, along with a suite of supporting media across paid social, display and targeted emails.

Notoriously tricky to target, the company had to devise a media plan that focused on lifestyle and culture and well-known influencers within its target groups, create a set of lookalike audiences and promote this content with a clear message aimed at those from underrepresented communities. The people imagery, messaging, and visual cues supported this.

The Follow-up

But the dialogue didn't stop there. Following the events:

- Each session was recorded, edited, polished, and hosted on the company YouTube channel and further marketed post-event.

- An interactive PDF was delivered to each person that registered, containing links to the recorded events, further helpful information around the employee led networks and a personal thank you video from the team with other advice and value.

- The company developed an animation that continued the story and encouraged people who missed out to watch the YouTube videos.

- It also hosted a round-down podcast featuring speakers from the event, that further broadened the dialogue with storytelling and insights from current grads.

The Outcome

In total, NatWest's ability to swiftly adapt to external condition earned them over 500 registrations for the Represent mini-series and feedback from everyone who attended was overwhelmingly positive. The event series received an NPS score of 67 (a score of 50 is considered ‘excellent’) and it was great to see that over 70% of candidates felt more confident about applying after attending the session.

Oh… and the company bagged a sweet EBMA award, of course.

It was brilliant to help NatWest influence social change. It was enthusiastic about doing it the right way - an honest story with real insights, advice and inspiration, delivered in a way not only native to the audience but also simpatico with the conditions of the pandemic.

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