All Posts in Technology

6th December 2022

Using a branding approach for employer brand management

How can we 'supercharge' employer brand management today? Nicole Clemens, CEO at Design by Structure, explores the best employer branding tactics for both attracting and retaining talent.  By Nicole Clemens, CEO

Nicole Clemens

Nicole Clemens

The Covid crisis has changed how we work, setting a precedent for a new work ethic and talent expectations, whether businesses were ready or not. Every week a new employment ‘trend' hits the headlines, such as ‘the great resignation’ or ‘quiet quitting’, it’s clear the war for talent is on.

But it’s not just about recruitment alone, it’s also about attrition. So, in one of the most challenging times for employers, how do companies supercharge their employer brand management (EBM) strategy to attract, recruit and retain talent?

Taking a branding approach  
A solution is to treat your EBM as a branding brief, and like a well-conceived brand strategy, a well-planned EBM strategy will give your company a competitive advantage in the war for talent.

Your EBM strategy should dovetail the marketing plan (with input from HR), focusing on your reputation, promoting your company as the place to work, supported with a messaging strategy with employee value proposition (EVP) at its core. And just like the business proposition, the EVP must be unique, relevant and compelling – supporting both staff retention measures and engagement measures for attracting new talent.

Brand perception and storytelling 
As a branding agency, we develop successful brand strategies for our clients. By learning everything we can about their business, products, customers and people (stakeholders), we help them to differentiate and cut through the noise of their markets.

Companies must employ similar processes for their EBM strategy. You need to know the perception your audiences (employees, recruiters, new talent) have of your company and how it stacks up against your competitors. Then translate that information into meaningful messaging and communications activity.

Attracting the right calibre of talent needs the help of a good reputation. However, you cannot build a good reputation unless a solid EBM strategy is in place, and it’s led from the top down. Take an external view of your business–what reputation does it have, and what are people saying about it? As you would your businesses brand, ensure you continually monitor your EBM and use consistent messaging across your channels, which means devising a communications plan for your:
• Careers webpage
• Social media channels
• PR activity
• Employee EBM guardians
• Employee newsletter
• Recruitment events

In the war for talent, an effective EBM strategy is one of the most important things in your armoury. A well-conceived one will give your business a competitive advantage by positioning your business as a ‘destination employer’. Employ branding tactics to learn about your business, to devise a narrative and, to tell your employee experience story to attract, recruit and retain the best talent.

To discuss the above-mentioned points in-depth drop us a line.

20th April 2021

How does Tech help Banks to Help People?


A Q&A with Jesse Swash, Co-Founder.

Twelve months on from the start of the pandemic and the first lockdown, have banks embraced technology enough to accelerate digital transformation to better serve customers, especially the underserved?

Jesse Swash

Jesse Swash

The most powerful thing about technology is its incredible ability to reach seamlessly deep into every aspect of our lives. Harnessed in the right way it can be an incredible force for good.

Just think how easy it is to now book a taxi, grocery shop, book a flight or pay for your TV license. Can any of us imagine returning to queuing in a post office or standing in a long line at Tesco?

Technology thought of in this way is an incredibly powerful way to reach everyone, the over-served and the underserved alike. Technology can make services, that were previously relatively arduous and sometimes downright in-accessible, easier to access, understand and use.

This kind of digital transformation through the application of technology works best when it’s aligned with the needs of the user or in this case the customer.

Want an example? Just think about the new banks. A significant part of their allure is in their ease of use. Back when we could all meet for dinner splitting the bill was a headache. Monzo, recognising a real customer pain point, solved this problem with a swipe of a thumb, and with impressed colleagues and friends rapidly becoming new customers and advocates, it drove further adoption and reach for the disruptor bank brand.

The new brands, downloaded, clicked, and swiped, are the key to reaching everyone. In many ways this change has already happened and is accelerating in the times we’re all living through right now – and will continue to live through for the near future.

Harness technology in this way and the question is then, what are you trying to communicate and what action do you want them to take? Because reach and access are no longer a real problem.

22nd July 2021

When is it time to rebrand?

By Jesse Swash, Co-Founder.

Surely a business owner is so close to their brand, they will instinctively know when to rebrand, won't they? But this isn't the case. Some businesses let an outdated brand limp on and then wonder why they are losing customers, engagement and ultimately money. So, how do you know when it's time to rebrand?

Jesse Swash

Jesse Swash

The brand lifecycle covers introduction to market, growth and maturity. The product lifecycle includes two additional stages, 'development' at the start and 'decline' at the end. While there is a distinction the terms are often used interchangeably.

In truth, it's not as linear as this, the best and most successful brands are continually refining, nurturing, and campaigning their brands to keep them fresh and top of mind. Here are some signposts that it may be time to rebrand.

Consider the three ‘Ps’ – Push, Pull and Positioning – are you clear about where you are in your brand activity?

The moment you feel your business has grown, your brand needs to:

  • reflect that your business model has changed and your brand needs to catch up.
  • acknowledge that your audience engagement may have changed.
    – therefore, who you were selling to, may no longer be who you are selling to.

Push and pull considerations
Push factors are the negative factors influencing your market, and subsequently your business, and pull factors are considered the positive or opportunistic drivers for your business.

Push includes things such as when someone new comes into your space and your brand looks dated, or a competitor has innovated, and you look a step behind, or when the market has changed, and you look like you haven’t.

Now look at your pull strategy, is it doing enough and still reaching (pulling) the right audience/customers to your product/service?

When it comes to positioning, do you occupy a distinctive place in the mind of your target market (audience), how are you different and how do you set yourself apart from your competitors?

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, there are other considerations for a rebrand such as a merger and acquisition or preparing for sale, but starting with the above points will require a brand review and may lead you to a rebrand to get you market-ready. Like Bezos said, ‘Brand is what people say about you when you are not there’.

...You always need to be aware of what they are saying.

To discuss the above-mentioned points in-depth drop us a line.

9th March 2021

Technology Enables Innovation

Technology enables innovation to happen – but it is not why innovation happens.

Thousands of businesses have the capability to ‘innovate’ – to create something new, or something better. What separates successful businesses is not whether they can do something, it’s whether they know why they are doing it. There is a huge distinction here, let’s look at that further.

The most successful businesses deliver more than linear, incremental improvements that make something better, faster or smoother. Instead, they harness a deep understanding of their customers, not just observing how they currently behave but revealing and understanding their pain points, interrogating what really matters to them and identifying new opportunities to create meaningful change for them.

These businesses can rethink the sector/customer problem, approaching it from a fresh and original perspective, reframing the context and transforming expectations of what ‘better’ means.

As the classic Henry Ford quote goes, “If I’d have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. He could have bought the fastest horses, bred them to be even faster and become rich. He didn’t. Why? Because he understood that, although his customers might not have articulated it directly, the problem wasn’t just about speed – so the solution wasn’t just about being faster. Instead, he built a new mode of transport that exceeded expectations and transformed the landscape forever – and he became extremely rich!

In short, technology enables innovation, but the smartest innovations are driven by insight – and so too are the smartest businesses.

It can be easy to forget or overlook this, not least when businesses are running full speed to improve and when there seem to be more options for improvement than ever. The most ground-breaking innovations are not remembered because of the technology, they’re remembered because they transformed businesses, cultures and industries.

We need to think of technology and innovation as having a symbiotic relationship in business. Insight is the catalyst for this change. And by putting it at the heart of every decision and using it to constantly challenge and rationalise why they should do something, businesses can streamline activity, optimise resource and align every action through a clear purpose.

The interconnectivity of tech and innovation
Technology and innovation are interconnected they need each other to thrive, let’s look at some examples.

What’s the biggest frustration people experience with customer services? Feeling that they are not being understood or listened to. Having to go through the same conversation, the same complaint, over and over again because they’re speaking to a different agent. We all know this pain.

Dixa, is a SaaS business currently transforming the customer service experience by making it more personal, intelligent, and data-driven., it puts people at the core of its business and addresses this particular pain point – frustration.

Dixa could have used technology to reduce waiting times or increase accessibility. Instead, they looked at the problem differently and unlocked a fresh way to innovate in this industry. The service combines every customer interaction into one seamless conversation by unifying all contact points – phone, email, chat and messaging. Therefore, changing the landscape by removing the frustration of having to explain yourself again and again to different customer service agents.

It has used technology to create a seamless, ongoing dialogue that has transformed expectations of customer service forever.

Mews is another business blending insight and technological innovation to revolutionise the hospitality guest experience.

Rather than think about how to improve the traditional property management system that dominated the industry landscape, Mews decided to drive its innovation from a different angle – the human experience of both hoteliers and customers and asked what are their pain points?

By adopting a customer-first perspective, Mews developed customer-first tech that identifies how and where to simplify or automate hotel operations – from booking engine to check-out, front desk ritual to revenue management.

Small scale improvements would not have been enough to compel hoteliers to switch from the established incumbent – but a new way of thinking brought to life through technology, has created wholesale change and encouraged hoteliers and guests to imagine more.

What both these business example show, is where technology was used to deep dive into a real problem, to fulfil a gap in the sector where meaningful change could innovate to the benefit of the end-user – the customer. Both of these solutions tackle specific pain points, and instead of an easy fix, have come up with an idea that can shake a sector and really challenge sedentary thinking. That’s the beauty of tech, it can realise a business idea and elevate a sector with innovation.

A final word of caution, too often businesses create or adopt technology for technology’s sake. They realise they can, so they do, but they don’t stop to ask ‘why?’. They should. When you unlock ‘the why’, you unlock the insights.

It is the insight that unlocks innovation – and technology that makes good on the promise.


This article was first published in Global Banking and Finance Magazine.

6th April 2021

You’re Special, so Special.

Author: Jesse Swash, Co-Founder Design by Structure

Jesse Swash

How we engage with and expect to access the services that underpin our lives has changed forever. It was happening already, but the structural changes we are living through right now have only made it more pronounced.

We can see that in the almost predictable decline of businesses and brands that failed to keep up or re-invent themselves, the high street stalwart list is a long one. But it’s worth reminding ourselves that for every retreat and closure story there is another business and brand that prospers and succeeds. The truth that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction has never been truer.

This change has swept through every part of society and has affected aspects of our lives and parts of our economy usually seen as impregnable. Who could have imagined previously prosperous high streets closed and now peppered with To Let signs?
But as with all things, and here I must confess to being optimistic by nature, there are silver linings in the clouds of furlough and bailout.

Re-imagine your offer.
For anyone who seeks to succeed, a mantra of continuous change and re-invention is absolutely key.  Because playing catchup is becoming too hard, change is moving too fast. This truth, this new reality applies just as much to a retail brand as a banking brand.
So, what are the opportunities? There are certainly quick wins, such as better customer experience (CX) and a focus on employee experience (EX). Getting employees motivated and inspired, and getting customers feeling that refreshed energy are a definite starting point. After all, when was the last time anyone looked forward to a call with a bank?

But there are other, bigger prizes on offer. Shifting customers to digital, redefining the interactions and relationships with them, and rethinking the ‘phygital’ world is here – yes, it is a thing, physical plus digital – fewer but better branches and more home video calls. Digital experiences that are as easy to navigate as Spotify and Netflix for example. Because one thing is certain, we still need to have the option to talk to someone. We still need to communicate. We still need to discuss.

Seize the opportunity.
Banks and the services they provide have a special place in our lives and our society. Their services are relied on every day by all of us in some capacity. A generation ago we only had the bank branch (with restricted hours), weekend closures and if we were lucky a phone number we could call to facilitate our banking needs. Remember how revolutionary First Direct felt with its shake-up of the sector – Britain’s first ‘virtual’ bank, with no branches and no bank managers. Now we have apps and online banking that work whenever we need them and to complement the remaining branches.

Age is not a differentiating factor either for the retail banks with a sharp adoption of digital services in customers over 65 in the last year (thanks McKinsey). So, when do we need to speak to someone, when do we want to meet in person? Those in the know suggest it is when issues are more complex, when we need to understand a complex financial product or when we are making a significant transaction. And there is the opportunity.

Re-think service.
Retail banking needs to be a re-thought presence in our lives. Destination premises in the locations where they are most needed. Reimagined premises with different kinds of usage spaces for customers. Places where important and meaningful conversations can happen, not for joining the queue to pay in a cheque. More informal or more formal spaces depending on your needs. Maybe one day soon your bank might be more like an Apple store or a hotel lobby, with places to sit and talk over a well-made coffee and a friendly ‘genius’ to guide you through the more complex choices.

The important point is that everything stems from the customers’ needs. We need to implement a user-centric, customer-first mantra, just like the apps and websites we rely on. The right levels of personal engagement in the right spaces, E.g., digital engagement in the right channels for the right kind of transactions. Not a tidying up of what is there already but a fundamental re-think of why we exist and how we deliver the right kind of services to the right people… I’ll bet you’re already planning to click, swipe or even visit.

Make experience count.
We know there is a right place and right time for different kinds of interactions. The next step is for retail banks to make those conversations matter. Can they behave more like they know their customers and are on their side? After all, they know our spending, they know how much we save, they see where we shop and how often we travel and go on holiday. Can they harness this data much like other businesses might suggest a jacket to go with a shirt or a movie to follow the one you just watched? Can a series of transactions trigger a better type of product, or a promotion at work, a different kind of saving account? Can a bank even initiate a conversation, can it think about a person’s life stage and match needs to circumstances and products to milestones? At its core can a bank show us it knows us, and it cares about us? Yes.

Built around you.
Now you, the customer, are the most important person in the room or on the screen. Now your experience is as you choose it to be, on the channel you choose, and when you choose it. Feel comfortable discussing your pension on a video call. Why not?  Rather visit the new branch for a one to one. No problem. Want to check your balance on your mobile? Of course. Happy to get alerts for products that match your new spending habits. Sure, send them over.

Suddenly your old bank has become your new bank and is on your side, it has your back, not just your wallet. The new bank recognises that you are unique, and you are special. And what do customers do with the brands they love, with the brands that treat them as though they matter, as though they are special? Yes, you guessed it. They spend more, they buy more products, and they stay loyal.

And ultimately isn’t that what every business is searching for? So, banks here is your opportunity. Treat customers as the most special thing you have. Give them access to products and services they need when they need them and where they need them, and you will succeed and prosper. The choice is yours. Our tip. Special wins every day.

This article is part of a series published in Global Banking and Finance Magazine.