How JobAdder's CMO is bringing the human truth to B2B rebranding

Australian-based tech company's marketing chief talks through the work done to find a consistent, compelling brand narrative

Even before she took the CMO job, Taz Bareham knew JobAdder’s branding and Adder snake iconography would hinder its geographic expansion and ability to win over larger in-house corporate recruitment teams.

“It was actually a question in my interview – what led the choice to make the snake a branding device in a market where building trust and credibility is essential,” Bareham tells CMO. “Coming from a branding background, I explained these choices effect implicit perceptions of you as a company.”

JobAdder is an Australian-based technology provider offering a recruitment software solution. Historically, the focus was on selling to small recruitment agencies. Since then, the product set has extended into larger corporates and in-house talent acquisition teams, leading to exponential growth of over 45 per cent year-on-year in annual recurring revenue last year. Off the back of this, the business doubled it headcount, appointing new global staff including Bareham as its first chief marketing officer.  

Yet the limitations of its visual branding, lack of consistent narrative, and need for website redevelopment to better flex across multiple regions and audiences made it imperative to rethink JobAdder’s market positioning, Bareham says.

“The business had the heritage of being a renegade, fun, flippant with a startup,” she says. “But the product had moved on quite dramatically. From an Australian market perspective, there was reasonable saturation in the small agency space area and in order to grow the business, they needed to expand the product offer and footprint and reach into larger agencies.

“JobAdder found itself getting into that in-house talent acquisition team space and HR management. From a brand perspective, as you go into larger corporations, that renegade startup and carton snake imagery doesn’t work as well. These customers are trying to get permission to spend budget on a platform that looks less established, and it’s difficult to build that credibility with the new in-house team.”  

These questions and concerns created permission early on to find out what staff and the outside world really thought of JobAdder, Bareham says.

“The question was if we were reflecting what we thought we were reflecting to the external world as we moved into these new markets,” she says.  

Building the bar defence

Research was conducted across internal teams and external customers, non-customers, partners and influencers to identify any differences between internal and external perceptions, and by region.

Taz BarehamCredit: JobAdder
Taz Bareham

“We wanted to learn what is JobAdder’s juicy DNA and the commonalities we could build upon that create this position brand we can credibly take to market,” Bareham explains. “There had been evolutions of the Adder snake, but it had always been the visual representation. When you took that away, however, there wasn’t anything else that built a sense of brand tonally… it was just a collection of practical stuff missing emotional connection.

“This means you end up in conversations about price, or struggle to cut through markets that are really noisy and competitive. You haven’t any glue or umbrella you are known for.”

Having worked at Diageo and on the Johnny Walker brand earlier in her career, Bareham said a key question was always: ‘What is your bar defence?’

“When you’re choosing something a bit different, what is your defence for your choice when it’s different to what your friends are choosing? What is our customer’s line of defence for choosing JobAdder?” she asks. “You need to make it easy for people to choose you.”

Thankfully, research showed a richness and cultural DNA JobAdder maintained that hadn’t been tapped into.

“There were real evangelists that had a lot of amazing things to say. But we were not reflecting to potential customers how much love there was for JobAdder across our own staff plus customers that had chosen us and used our products for a while,” Bareham says. “We hadn’t understood what that was and articulated it in a way that enables us to go to prospects and convince them as well. We were relying on rational things but that was not what you see when you talk to people.”

Creative approach

Bareham reached out to creative agencies to help with further insights, the rebrand and website overhaul, selecting boutique agency, Wolfking. A further process of research including 35 qualitative interviews was undertaken to understand the flavours and themes of what’s happening in market as well as internal views, all feeding into different creative possibilities.

The resulting brand refresh is oriented around the theme of ‘adding joy to the job of recruitment’ and is designed to reflect JobAdder’s inherent brand, product truths and mission of making the experience of recruitment more efficient and joyful for everyone. Pastel colouring and blue and yellow highlights were also a conscious step away from more dominant colour schemes and aggressive approaches traditionally found in the recruitment space.

“Influenced by the past two pandemic-plagued years, our rebrand embodies everything many of us have yearned for: Moments that lighten up the day,” Bareham says. “We've been locked up without seeing family or friends for a very long time. The cues of the sky, sunlight and nature in our visual expression of joy reflects that human desire for freedom, calm and fresh air. For us, joy is what drives our team every single day. Not only to ensure our morale is high, but to deliver joy and a better experience to our customers via interactions with our product and people.”  

Importantly, the new-look branding translates and appeals to diverse markets and audience as the company expands into EMEA, the US and Canada.

“What’s great about the positioning is we can dial up to more frivolous fun stuff, but we can also go in a different direction, being more human-focused,” Bareham continues.  

“When you talk to recruiters, there’s the joy part of recruiting, which is the human side, and the painful side, which is all the admin, paperwork and process. We are not adding joy to recruitment – that’s what humans do. Recruiters bring the irreplaceable human magic. We are a tech company, and we need to be mindful of the role we play and not overstate it.”

Heroing the recruiter was therefore paramount, Bareham says. “It’s about making sure they feel they are the ones bringing the magic, especially when older recruiters are worried about tech taking their jobs away and replacing some of their skills. We aren’t here to replace the magic, we’re here to enable it.”

So far, JobAdder has revamped its brand strategy, website and sales assets, paid, owned and earned media assets, in-person and virtual events and tactical ideas. 

From a website perspective, new educational and information resources for customers and partners have been introduced such as blog content, ebooks, job descriptions, information on the product’s latest tech features. This is drive by an overarching user experience that better allows for in-house recruiters as well as agencies to find the information they are looking for.

Practically, the website also delivers flexibility for regional marketers as they grow to edit and create regionalised pages.

Wolfking co-founder, Dave King, says it was clear through the process of conducting interviews that people love JobAdder. “Staff love working there, customers love using the product, the level of service and support is impeccable,” he said.

“Through playful and uplifting design and iconography inspired by blossoms, dandelions, sunshine, and clouds, we were able to help the company create something that was truly unique and unlike anything its competitors, let alone tech companies, have in the market.”

Cultural shift

With few people at JobAdder exposed to this kind of strategic brand work, there was huge nervousness both around the time it takes and what was coming out the other side.

“They were suspending disbelief and trusting me massively for few months. It’s always nerve wracking,” Bareham admits. “Once we got to strategic positioning, how to bring that to life in a way that had a lot of variations and colours was important.”

One mechanism to take staff on the rebrand journey was JobAdder’s ‘hop’, a monthly all-hands, one-hour meeting. Individual regions sessions with teams were also held.

“We shared insights, what influencers were saying, and we fed in verbatims and discoveries along the way. We also had the research agency to be the external supplier, sharing this with them,” Bareham says. “We created video bytes that brought it to life. And we invited people to ask questions along the way.

“We did an internal launch a couple of months before the new site went live to get everyone excited and gave them goodies with new branding on it. The snake was something people who’d been at JobAdder were attached to, so my mandate was we can’t just remove something but help people move towards the new branding so they feel like they are gaining something.”

In addition, evangelists across the company, including longer-term employees, were recruited and taken on a more detailed journey. “They became confidants along the way,” Bareham says.  

Staff sentiment has since led how the branding is being rolled out externally. While Bareham is confident JobAdder’s approach and joyful positioning has never been more relevant, the unfolding situation in Ukraine and ongoing Covid pandemic led to a conscious decision to pause some activity.

“Although this is an even more important time to shine light on everyday moments of joy and how we all cope, the internal team wasn’t feeling joyful at the moment. We’re coping right now. In coming weeks it will be the right time to come up and joyful in a mindful way, more about resilience, hope and helping each other,” she says.  

“We have fun, creative ways for our teams to think about how they all behind it and all become marketers and ways they are living out the brand positioning. Teams have our purpose front and centre in mind now and how we bring the joyful into interactions every day. They are talking about and referencing the brand in presentations, conversations and more.

“The biggest thing with a rebrand is ensuring the internal team are absorbing it and being the biggest advocates of it. If it permeates every customer interaction, then it will connect to grow. It’s not just the shiny stuff on the outside.”

As well as orchestrating the brand refresh, Bareham has been building out her team and now has a regional lead and marketing exec in each of JobAdder’s three core regions supported by a global services team.

Helping guide Bareham through this process is her diverse marketing background. She oversaw strategy in agencies for a number of years across many categories, worked as a consultant and held brand and marketing roles with eBay as well as next-gen tech players such as ansarada and Rezdy.

“It really helps as you can connect the dots across seemingly different problems, but in reality, it’s the same problem in many places,” she says of her approach to JobAdder’s B2B proposition. “I think it’s about problem solving and being able to use different tools to come at it in different ways, while reminding people they’re talking to humans.”  

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