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Transforming iQ Student Accommodation’s employer brand

BrandPointZero | Award-winning Employer Brand Agency | Employer Brand Hero Image

iQ Student Accommodation is the UK’s second-largest provider of purpose-built student accommodation. They cater to 30,000 students across 76 sites in 29 UK cities.

But despite their impressive portfolio and commitment to sustainability, their brand was relatively unknown in the recruitment marketplace. This posed a challenge in supporting the company’s ambitious growth agenda.

So, they asked us for help.

BrandPointZero | Award-winning Employer Brand Agency | Employee images 3

The challenge

iQ were aiming for significant growth in employee numbers, so the main objective was to position iQ Student Accommodation as a best-in-class employer. Originally, we wanted to benchmark against other employers in their category, but quickly we moved to using the entire hospitality sector. We wanted to position iQ as a world-class business, and emphasise its inclusive, fun, and supportive culture.

Our solution

Phase 1 – Unveiling iQ’s exceptional culture

Six leadership interviews, three site visits, and five focus groups, along with informal conversations, unveiled iQ’s unique and extraordinary culture.

The inclusive and positive energy, the can-do attitude, and the sense of community ran right through the organisation, creating an exceptional workplace.

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Phase 2 – Crafting a powerful employee value proposition (EVP)

Exploring various options, the team landed on an unconventional but fitting EVP statement for iQ – ‘It’s An iQ Thing.’ This narrative encapsulated the iQ spirit and resonated with employees. And now we’ve made that feeling part of the strategic fabric of the business.

Phase 3 – Bringing the EVP to life creatively

Embracing a bold EVP required bold creative execution. iQ adopted a new style, colour palette, and voice, injecting personality into their employer brand. Photo and video shoots in London and Manchester showcased employees, making the EVP tangible. An internal launch equipped the iQ team with video content, an activation playbook, and assets for immediate use in attraction, retention, and advocacy efforts.

Creating a new set of values

One of the outputs from our insight phase was that the values weren’t clearly understood by the organisation and were no longer fit for purpose. This in itself created its own challenges as they were the brainchild of the current CEO. We love a challenge so sat down with the board to help them define a new set of values that would be fit for purpose for their next phase of growth and that would resonate across the organisation.

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Launch Event (Spring 2023)

The eagerly awaited launch event introduced the EVP and creative to 80 senior team members across the UK, receiving a standing ovation. Attendees left with coveted iQ hoodies, excited about the future of the business and its impact on their people.

BrandPointZero | Award-winning Employer Brand Agency | Employer Brand launch images

The results

The enthusiasm and sense of fun that runs through iQ as an organsiation was infectious. We loved working with them. You can’t help but smile when you watch the films we created. The way the whole board embraced the concept and threw themselves in to the process was so refreshing. Not only was it a lot of fun…we delivered some outstanding results too:

Employee engagement up 7%

“The leaders at iQ have communicated a vision that motivates me” increased to 73% (up 8% from 2022)

Overall Engagement Score increased to 75% from 68% in 2022

“I would recommend iQ as a great place to work” increased to 90% (up 8% from 2022)

“I know how my work contributes to the vision of iQ” increased to 87% (up 6% from 2022)

“Launching the EVP and seeing the main board on stage extolling the virtues of It’s an iQ Thing was a career-defining moment for me.”

Lucy Entwistle, Chief People Officer iQ

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Got a project? Let’s talk

We’d love to hear more about where your organisation is heading, and chat about how we can bring your culture to life to drive attraction, engagement and inclusion.