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The need for employer branding in the United States Army has been necessitated by the public's unfavorable view of the agency. These derogatory connotations are that the Army is a profession of last resort and is blamed for killings. This is an examination of the effect of the Branding Initiative on recruiting more skilled workers.
Employer branding is a technique for controlling an organization's expectations of staff, prospective employees, and stakeholders (Buttenberg 116). The strategy can be used to increase staff recruiting and retention (Lievens and Slaughter 407). The U.S Army used several techniques to attract new personnel that met their criteria for the re-branded institution. The Army built on its earlier campaigns, used the website to reach younger people, offered higher incentives, and increased the qualifications of recruiters. They also targeted the parents of potential recruits, in their Ad campaigns. The use of savvy campaigns like the Army strong campaign was used to drive up recruitment numbers. The officers’ campaign was also used to recruit those that would lead the recruits after the branding initiatives.
The army also used non-conventional methods to attract recruits. Games were used to attract recruits like Americas Army Games 2000 and the Virtual Army experience. The Americas Army games were used to excite the digital youths by giving them realistic experience of military missions, virtually. The project cost the Army about $32.8 M to develop but was unable to generate the targeted number of recruits. The Army of one campaign was also launched to give the recruits the feeling of being in the military. However, it was another unsuccessful website aimed at raising the number of recruits. Also, the help finds their strength campaign that aimed at making people feel wanted by the Army was used during the time.
The virtual Army experience game that painted the military experience was employed to reduce the negative connotation that had been created in movies and the media (Faheem 13). It was informed by research, which revealed that young people required information on their career prospects in the Army. The design of the game was also aimed at allowing the potential recruits to experience the rebranded U.S. Army that included a wide range of career options, technology, and improved standards of living. It was also designed to increase direct persuasion to woo the recruit by facilitating the interaction of the visitors and the skilled Army personnel (Faheem 14). The location for the program was crucial, with crowded places being chosen to increase contact, including theme parks. The advantages of this recruitment drive were the use of skilled Army personnel that could share their experiences with the recruit. The method was also cheaper, and the potential for more people to get involved was high due to the increase of contractibility. The program enabled the right fit of personnel to be chosen due to the interactions, which was one of the primary agendas of the employer rebranding.
The officer’s campaign as stated earlier was also used to drive up recruitment. The aim was to recruit officers to lead the officers that could use different perspectives to approach situations. The officers were to be more educated and creative compared to their previous counterparts and were to see the Army as a place with careers growth opportunities.
The Army experience center (AEC) was a new approach used to attract new prospects after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It targeted young people and was supported by Apple and ESPN to show the improved tech standards of the Army. AEC was also an interactive platform that was costly to set up and used approximately 20 skilled personnel to engage the recruits on daily military experiences while they played Army games on X Box 360s and personal computers. The environment of the AEC was set to be as relaxed as possible to paint a different face of the Army. The interactions were also casual and were meant to leave an imprint on the teenagers’ lives so that they can develop the right attitude to join the Army in future.
Criticism of the Employer Branding
The employer branding took advantage of susceptible youths. It reduced the horrors of places like Afghanistan and made killing look like fun through the use of games. The controversial topic of killing by drones was also glorified. There are also those who find no correlation between the employer branding campaign and the increase in recruitment (Hanin et al. 58). Another research indicates that there was an improvement in perception of the U.S Army after employer branding - positive correlation (Khalid and Tariq 352). However, there is no conclusive research on the topic.
The U.S. Army employer branding campaign can be said to be successful by some but not all. It can be said to have improved the image of the institution. It is, therefore, a useful tool to increase the number of recruits that want to join the U.S Army, which was its primary goal.
Buttenberg, Katharina. The impact of employer branding on employee performance. Riga: University of Latvia, 2013
Faheem, Hadiya. “Employer Branding Initiative in the U.S Army.” Nargajuna Hills: ICMR, 2010
Hanin, D. et al. “the impact of employer branding on employees: the role of employment offering in the prediction of their affective commitment”. Psychologica Belgica, Vol 53, Issue 4 (2013) PP. 57-83 DOI:
Khalid, S., and Tariq, S. “Impact on employer brand on selection and recruitment processes”. Pakistan Economic and Social Review, Vol 53, Issue 2 (2015) PP. 351-372
Lievens, F., and Slaughter, J. Employer Image and Employer Branding: What We Know and What We Need to Know. Ghent: Ghent University, 2016. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-041015-062501
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