An Employer Brand for an Employer Brand

In its history of being in business for 77 years, Kelly Services had never articulated a Universal Employee Value Proposition.  With increasing competition for top talent, leadership recognized that now was the time to share with the world that Kelly is a great place to work. 

But that wasn’t evident: website career pages were tucked away, messaging was diluted and generic, and each recruiter or hiring manager portrayed the benefits of working at Kelly differently. 

On a mission to transform their recruitment strategy, Kelly selected Global Brand Works to lead the way. We apply our deep experience in external branding to create employee and talent-facing platforms. It is what we love to do, and it is our secret sauce.  

A recruitment advertising example with the description, "At Kelly, great work starts with a great culture." and the headline "Together we change lives."
A recruitment advertising example with the description, "At Kelly we work as a team, together celebrating inclusion, caring, and collaboration. " and the headline "Your impact is limitless."
A recruitment advertising example with the description, "Revenue Achiever.  Relationship Builder.  Motivating Leader." and the headline "Together we change lives."

An easy-to-use recruitment messaging toolkit empowers internal teams to write compelling, strategic, and consistent copy in talent acquisition advertising.

Objective: Deliver Kelly’s very first Universal Employer Brand, designed to resonate with both current employees and potential recruits, conveying why Kelly is the ultimate place to work.

Deliverables: The Universal Employer Brand includes an Employer Brand Value Platform, Talent Personas, and Recruitment Messaging. 

The Process: GBW’s proprietary and proven approach is rooted in deep listening and discovery. Our process encourages collaboration and co-creation, involving colleagues at all organizational levels through interviews, focus groups, and workshops. The result is a sense of ownership and engagement in the development process that translates to support and adoption.  

Following is detail on our process, with a bonus: A best practice tip for each:

A mocked up Financial Times newspaper with the audacious headline generated in a focus group that says "Kelly Education becomes the sole provider of substitute teachers across the globe"

1. Internal Focus Groups:

With the Kelly Team, GBW identified both corporate and field-based participants across 8 different divisions.  Held over multiple sessions across different international time zones, GBW facilitated discussions around drivers and barriers to working at Kelly. “Making an Impact” and “Togetherness” bubbled up as key themes.  

Best Practice Tip: Develop a fun and interactive exercise to stimulate creativity. In this case, we asked participants to envision an audacious future in the form of media headlines. We then mocked up our favorites to add imagery and interest in the final report. 

A screen grab of a chart with social media listening results.

2. Marketplace Assessment: Kelly + 4 Other Brands:

Exploring the employer branding for companies that overlapped Kelly’s recruitment marketplace, as well as other employer brands that were admired by the leadership, delivers a context that supports differentiation and also inspires ideas. The final report:

  • Identified where competitive and marketplace EVPs are today
  • Analyzed what’s working, and what’s not
  • Revealed saturated messaging areas to avoid overlap
  • Showed brand damage when messaging was false or inauthentic 

Best Practice Tip: Make sure that social media listening informs the final report. What people are saying on social offers authentic insights into what employees are sharing about company culture, people, and management.

A screengrab of an example of a Candidate Persona

3. External Candidate Quantitative Survey:

We qualified candidates within 2 essential job roles: Sales and Recruitment, who were passive or active job seekers. 

The surveys were conducted across the 3 representative geographies applicable to Kelly Services: the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.  The questionnaire ran for about 10 minutes; the most informative questions probed about what is most important when choosing where to work (and what are the deal breakers). 

Best Practice Tip: Be sure to add questions that collect insights to inform candidate personas, such as working preferences, career challenges, hobbies, and job searching habits. 

An image of a person taking notes on a pad of paper.

4. Kelly 1:1 Stakeholder Interviews:

To establish authenticity, 18 1:1 conversations with Kelly leaders and stakeholders were held across key departments. By listening to the leaders’ points of view on Kelly’s culture and environment, we are able to craft messaging and a platform that authentically reflects the company’s values and true offerings.

Best Practice Tip: To ensure candid conversations, take notes instead of recording interviews, ensure participants that direct quotes are never attributed, and use only external parties to conduct the interviews. 

Co-Creation Workshop

The four deep listening inputs described above informed several custom and engaging workshops, developed and facilitated by Global Brand Works.  In these sessions, using fun and interactive modules, GBW inspired the groups to co-create the founding elements of the EVP Platform, Personas, and Recruitment Messaging.

An infographic that shows that 61% of employees would recommend working at Kelly Services to a friend. 
 54% held a positive outlook for the business. And a 6% improvement over the last 12 months.


After the implementation of the Universal Employer Brand, 61% of employees would recommend working at Kelly Services to a friend, and 54% held a positive outlook for the business. This marks a 6% improvement over the last 12 months.

GBW’s proprietary approach not only transforms Kelly Services’ employer brand but also boosts employee engagement and the company’s reputation as an ideal workplace. By delivering a brand that resonates with both employees and recruits, Kelly Services is now better equipped to attract top talent and retain it, ultimately contributing to its long-term success.

A photograph of Alexia Estios

GBW acted as a true partner – imparting their expertise while consciously aligning / flexing to our goals and needs. They acted with integrity and commitment, and genuinely demonstrated care and concern for the output of the project. – Alexia Etsios, Director of Corporate Recruiting, Kelly Services

Click here for full testimonial.

Shannon Riordan
Project Lead

Kim Jursa

Susan Reid

Marko Madjarac
Full Spectrum Insights Research