How Humanizing Its Brand Is Justworks' Secret Sauce
Camilla Velasquez

In a time when startups are popping up like daisies and nearly everyone wants to claim the title of “entrepreneur,” it’s not surprising services to cater to this community are materializing just as rapidly. Automated HR platforms, specifically are now ubiquitous enterprises that promise to be a startup founder’s best friend.

And though the options are abundant, none have proven as viable as Justworks. Beyond simply offering a comprehensive service, Justworks succinct and humanized brand allows it to be a frontrunner in this sphere.

Camilla Velasquez, Justworks' VP, Head of Product has ensured this conversational and accessible brand voice through innovative marketing and visibility efforts.

“Work Fearlessly” is Justwork’s creed, displayed front and center on the website along with being liberally scattered throughout additional content. How does this mantra work to emphasize the Justwork’s brand and its values?

We chose “Work Fearlessly” as our mantra because our customers are typically entrepreneurs or small business owners. We hear time and time again that managing back office tasks, ever-changing government regulations, and the rising cost of health insurance hold entrepreneurs back from doing what they love and growing their businesses.

We wanted a tagline that reinforced our value proposition of managing all these aspects for them, but to deliver a message that wasn’t about fear. Instead we wanted to create one that was empowering and positive. To say you’re “fearless” means you take risks and act boldly. We want our customers to be bold and build businesses that change the world, while treating their employees well. We believe our role is to champion business owners, and push them to do great things. We encourage this internally as well -- and a core part of our values is centered around grit. We reward employees each quarter who push boundaries and do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it isn’t in their job description.

Justworks seems to take a conversational tone throughout its branding. What does this casual “voice” achieve and how does it help set Justworks apart?

This goes back to what I mentioned above about not wanting to take on a fear-mongering tone, which only adds to the anxiety business owners and entrepreneurs already feel. Who wants a partner that adds anxiety? Instead, we want our voice to be educational and trustworthy -- more like a dependable mentor who gives you sound advice and guides you than someone lawyerly or scolding - and never ever condescending. Another one of our core values is simplicity. Conversational tones help to simplify a complex industry, particularly when the subject matter can be otherwise unapproachable. Also, because we’re a startup that has grown quickly, we find ourselves in a position to be that mentor with genuine and authentic advice to give, having just been in our customers’ shoes ourselves. Imparting that knowledge in a way we wish others had imparted is something we think about often in our communications.

In terms of attaining new users, what marketing efforts does Justworks put forth in explaining the necessity of the platform?

We use digital marketing channels, as well as events, but I would say our content/SEO right now is a huge driver of inbound interest. By ensuring our blog provides useful and educational information, delivered in a conversational tone -- ideally by profiling other small business owners -- we can show people that when they sign up for Justworks they can expect that same helpful tone both from our platform and also from our servicing teams.

Digital HR solutions seem to be rising in prominence quite quickly. What specific tactics are utilized to explain how Justworks is the best option?

We have a comparison page that helps to explain how Justworks differs from other HR solutions, as well as case studies and e-books. We want to help guide prospects to the right decision for their team and needs. We’re currently the only provider in the new technology space that is a PEO, and we want to make sure our customers can understand how our PEO business model differs, so that they they can make the right decision for their businesses. We’re also the only PEO with a transparent and public pricing page on their website. We may not be the best solution for everyone, but for those companies that make sense, we can be an incredible solution.

How does the Justwomen aspect of Justworks fit within brand as a whole and encourage sign ups?

Justwomen is all about encouraging the fearlessness I mentioned above, and the spirit of entrepreneurship among women. While entrepreneurs of all genders need help and advice so they can push boundaries, we’ve found that women in particular seek to build their network and increase their confidence. Justwomen helps women hear from other female entrepreneurs so they can get the inspiration and confidence they need to keep pushing through on their ideas. Justwomen isn’t explicitly about sales, and we don’t measure its success in this way. For us, Justwomen is about networking by building a reliable community and ecosystem of impressive women entrepreneurs.

Any general advice you could offer startup founders striving to create a comprehensive, unique brand voice?

Start with the foundation of your company values. Brainstorm all the possible ways your business might evolve in the coming years and ask yourself if the values you’ve identified can withstand all those permutations. Then build your mission and your vision, and do the same thing. Make sure they’re futureproof so you have a bedrock on which you can build your creative identity, brand voice, and your messaging. Then, interview your existing customers to understand what intangible reasons they have for using your product, and what their aspirations are. Early adopters will probably have good emotional reasons that can be very useful for you when coming up with your brand identity, because you’ll want to stay true to those reasons and build on them even further. For us, we also went through the exercise of asking, if our customers were out in the wild, what would we want them to say about us? And how we answered that question also contributed to how we built out our brand identity.

Working with a talented agency can really help to get you out of the day to day bubble inside your company. They can help provide marketplace context as well, because it’s sometimes hard to see how the market perceives you versus how you see yourself. An agency that isn't afraid to share hard truths can be invaluable here.