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This Case Study is a Masterclass in Differentiation

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Employer Branding

Finding your point of differentiation in your employer brand is a tough gig. The world is full of cookie-cutter content and not every organisation can be snowflake-unique.

So, sometimes the most challenging part of developing your strategy is figuring out the fresh space you can occupy in the market whilst remaining authentic. It's discovering how you can create an EVP that is relevant to your talent audience without becoming a thinly veiled copy of your competitors.

The Challenge

VCA had a problem. It wasn’t bringing in the veterinary talent it needed. As an extremely specialist profession, competition in the industry is fierce.

After conducting research based on the internal, external and leadership view of the brand, we found that awareness was not the issue - 82% of the practitioners we interviewed knew about VCA. However, of the people VCA were trying to recruit, 50% said they would reject them outright, meaning, if a recruiter called them, they’d say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

So, it was a huge perception problem. While people generally agreed that while VCA would provide purposeful work, quality medicine and professional growth, they felt the brand was massively corporate, that they wouldn’t have the freedom to practice their own way, that it wasn’t leading the market and that employees were not well looked after.

The Plot Twist

Interestingly, when we blind tested the brand, and told interviewees about what VCA was offering, what they would get and what the EVP was - their response was entirely different.

So much so that out of a list with ten other competitors, VCA came out on top as the ideal employer.

“Great," they said. "Who are they? I want to work for them.”

Now that we knew VCA was offering something talent wanted, the challenge was how to present its message, without falling prey to the sea of sameness in the industry.

Mapping the Market

The first thing we did was ask VCA who they considered their competitors to be, and who they aspired to have as competitors.

After a deep dive into the key messaging and visual identity of these brands, it was clear what was already being said and where the potential gaps were. This gap or “white space” strikes the ideal balance between relevance, desirability and uniqueness. 

Here is what we found for VCA. 

In terms of visual online presence, when talking about vets, you're probably going to show animals. Animals with vets. And, true to form, that’s what just about every competitor was doing.

But VCA needed to differentiate in a way that would help it to stand out whilst breaking free from its overly corporate reputation.

The Result

Something that emerged during the research phase was the importance of hands. Being a vet is, physically and metaphorically a hands-on job, and this single symbolic thought formed the basis of the entire strategy.

The visual identity and messaging was built around the image of hands and the hard work and care they represent, and the result was a bright, non-corporate feeling campaign that centred on the impact talent can make, and VCA's position as an industry leader.

The tagline: "The future of veterinary medicine is in your hands" encapsulates what we know all talent want out of a job - a sense of purpose, impact and belonging. 

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