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Recruiting Drivers: Why Your Brand Matters

Relationship Manager at HNI

In the ever-competitive world of attracting good drivers, it is getting harder and harder to stand out amongst a crowd of competitors.

employer_brandPhrases such as “New Pay Plan,” “Late Model Equipment,” “Not a Number,” and “Home Time” are in almost every ad targeting drivers.  Even if those things are true about your company, they’re not going to make you sound very different (or seem very believable to drivers).

So how do you stand out as a black dot in a sea of white dots and truly differentiate your company?

Forget the idea that brand is just marketing fluff

An effective brand is the single most important ingredient to becoming one of those stand out companies that are like magnets to drivers.

What is a brand?  A brand is not a logo or a catchy slogan. In fact, it’s not anything your marketing person or committee says.  It’s what your drivers (and potential drivers) say your company is all about.

The definition that we like to use is that a brand is a person’s gut feeling about your organization. It how people perceive the experience of working with or for your organization.

Factors that influence your employer brand

As creative as we make our recruiting and advertising messages, they’re not going to get us very far without a strong brand as a foundation.

You employer brand – that gut feeling about what it’s like to be an employee – is impacted by every touch point internally (for current team members) and externally (for potential recruits). 

A few of the things that may shape their image of your company include:


Is it late model and clean, or is it old and tired?  What does that make people think and feel about your organization?

CSA Scores

Do your drivers violate regulations, or does your company have a track record of excellence? What does that make people think and feel about your organization?

Driver Pay & Benefits

How does your comp package compare in the industry? Do your drivers feel they are compensated fairly or are they perpetually having to fight for every last penny?  What does that make people think and feel about your organization?


Is your digital footprint professional? Does it have a focus toward drivers? What does that make people think and feel about your organization?

A good exercise to see how much a brand matters is to simply ask your drivers who they believe to be the best companies in the country to drive for and why. You might be surprised at the answers – because it’s likely that many will not include rationale involving highest pay, highest miles, or flashiest equipment.

My guess is you may hear terms such as professional, respect, and reputation. Those companies that have a best-in-class brand tend to attract best-in-class drivers.

Leveraging Your Brand When Appealing to Drivers

A company’s brand today is not its brand forever.  It takes an active strategy, however, to lead it to what we want it to be.

The first step in this journey is going through a discovery process to determine what is your current brand and what you want it to be.  This can’t be determined huddled around a board room table (your brand is what others say it is, remember?) 

A brand discovery exercise can also be tricky to perform on yourself – sometimes, you’re a little too close to the mirror to see what’s in it.  When HNI worked on defining its brand, we worked with an outside firm in the discovery process.  Now, we are helping other companies do the same by helping them audit their brand by interviewing drivers, customers, and benchmarking against their competitors.

Brand is the Future for Recruiting Drivers

A strong employer brand can be a talent magnet for that increasingly elusive prospective driver. An authentic driver brand that is honestly shared by a recruiter and adhered to by operations can also be a powerful retention tool.

The future of trucking lies with those companies that can attract and retain the best drivers. A strong brand will give you that unfair advantage to be one of the leaders that pulls ahead in the years to come. 


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Topics: Transportation Leadership / Strategy