Inside the Army’s long-term brand building platform ‘This is belonging’

The British Army tackled a recruitment crisis head on with the introduction of its long-term brand platform ‘This is Belonging’, which it has evolved over the past five years to completely reshape young people’s opinions of a career in the Armed Forces.

With applications to become a soldier plateauing, the British Army knew it had to take a bold new approach to change people’s perceptions and attract a new cohort of Army recruits.

Recruiting Group (part of Capita) CMO Nick Terry admits it had been running niche campaigns to niche audiences and had been largely focusing its attention on people who were going to join anyway, so it required a radical rethink.

“We had to rethink the whole picture and broaden the appeal of a career in the British Army and get people to change their perceptions of what an Army career would mean to them. We had to get people to take action and to start that first stage of their journey and apply to join,” he said, talking to Marketing Week and Festival of Marketing editor in chief, Russell Parsons.

The result was ‘This is Belonging’, which launched in 2017 and has evolved each year since to meet fresh challenges. In 2018 the campaign addressed diversity issues, in 2019 it tackled the stereotype of young people as tech-obsessed snowflakes, and in 2020 it focused on how an Army career unlocks individual potential through self-confidence. This year the focus is tackling the culture of perfectionism.

The campaign, created by Karmarama, has become one of the most talked-about Army recruitment drives in history, gaining international media coverage and reshaping how young British people perceive the Army. The number of regular soldier applications has increased every year since the campaign launched. And it’s why This is Belonging won the prize for Long-Term Brand Building Excellence at the 2020 Marketing Week Masters awards.

Hear from Terry and Rhonwen Lally, a senior planner at Karmarama, as they share the secret to the campaign’s long-term success.