Airforce Research Lab logo

Branding to recruit the very best in the US

A new strategy sees recruits flocking to AFRL’s mission.

The Air Force Research Lab is a governmental agency headquartered in the Midwest. Home to engineers, researchers and professionals, AFRL pursues innovation to deliver technology solutions that answer the most urgent needs of the US Air Force and Space Force. Home to engineers, researchers and professionals, AFRL pursues innovation to deliver technology solutions that answer the most urgent needs of the US Air Force and Space Force. In recent years, AFRL saw its recruitment and retention efforts waning, with top-tier candidates opting for Silicon Valley instead.

The organization came to LPK to reimagine the department’s brand, better conveying its compelling mission and values, and with it, shaping new strategies for talent acquisition, retention and growth.

Our work began with an immersive discovery process, interviewing potential recruits to learn why—or why not—they gravitated to AFRL. Many shared that the glamour of Silicon Valley and holistic benefits of west-coast companies eclipsed AFRL’s offerings. Others struggled with the inability to talk freely about what a government job entails.

We fused these findings with emergent sociocultural and tech trends, determining that the future brand of AFRL would need to go toe-to-toe with—and stand apart from—the Facebooks, Teslas and Googles of the world. Using LPK’s Desires Methodology to steer our strategy, we developed a solution that mirrored the Power, Independence and Prestige that potential recruits crave in their career. It informed a look, tone and feel that maximized AFRL’s message and leveraged the highly classified aspect to its advantage. Instead of spelling out every detail, campaigns spoke to duty and discretion—an intrigue-generating strategy that helped drive new conversations.

As AFRL worked to gain and retain new recruits, we knew that inserting people directly into the job would seal the deal. To bring the experience of AFRL to life, we worked with our partners at Sinthetik, a creative studio specializing in XR solutions like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to propel brands into new dimensions of reality. Sinthetik and LPK teamed up to bring the new brand to life through immersive simulations—inserting recruits directly in the flight hangar, and even the captain seat.

Expertise
  • Category + consumer trends
  • Consumer insights
  • Brand identity
Products
  • Actionable Consumer Desires
  • Brand Transformation

Project Outcome

To date, the organization has enrolled these 10 new recruits with a retention rate of 80%.

Airforce Research Lab logo

In the first year of launch, ARFL met and exceeded its new recruitment goal in record time. “In under 6 months, we went from an average of 1 to 2 recruits a year to 10,” says Josh Shearer, Supervisory General Engineer at ARFL.

AirForce Research Lab