Growing a Sports and Technology Company

Hudl is a software product that provides full video analysis tools from any computer or mobile device to help coaches and athletes improve their team. More than 100,000 sports teams spent $30 million with Hudl in 2014 to review game tape on mobile, and the business continues to expand. Hudl needed to recruit and hire a large amount of people to operate a new office so the company could continue to grow and respond to the demand for the product and services. Hudl’s internal creative team had developed a strong brand identity, but they realized a recruiting campaign operating at high speed and with large stakes would require additional insight. Our challenge was to help Hudl get the attention of, and speak meaningfully to, a local and regional audience of potential employees.

A Comprehensive Recruiting Campaign Sprint

In less than four months, we worked closely with Hudl’s leadership and creative team to develop a multi-pronged marketing campaign and the necessary media to recruit qualified applicants for designer, development, quality analyst, and project manager positions. In that time, we developed a website, crafted strategic messaging, cut two videos, designed billboards and bus benches, and ensured the campaign stayed on track with Hudl’s larger brand.

Nerds and Jocks Together at Last

Hudl needed a recruiting campaign that would inspire talented men and women to apply for open positions. Although Hudl provides a product that supports sports coaches, it is a technology company. Our challenge was to retain a sports feel while appealing to smart technology professionals. In their own terms, Hudl is comprised of more “nerds” than “sports fans.” The love of technology needed to come first, and in their experience, the love of sports develops for Hudl employees once they become part of the company’s culture.

X’s and O’s

Our strategy evolved based on research. We interviewed leadership and employees to better understand the company culture, work process, and why people liked their jobs at Hudl. From that, we built a strategy around the employee experience. We would promote benefits and confirm that Hudl is not a locker room culture, rather one that values diversity, intelligence, and problem-solving.

Call in the Design Squad

From a design perspective, we were inspired by the concept of Hudl’s squads — employees work in autonomous, small teams that have the authority to make decisions, fix problems, and move ahead without bureaucratic restrictions. These teams are strategic and plan together. This informed the visuals — X’s and O’s, diamonds and squares — and helped us create more of a tactical or strategic sensibility rather than an athletics or sporty feeling.

A Brand Slam Dunk

We expanded on the existing Hudl brand to create specific campaign elements. We added an additional color — navy — to soften the palette and make it less masculine. We created icons to illustrate Hudl’s benefits — one of their strong recruiting elements. Our goal was to introduce a playfulness and sense of humor without being childish.

Relaying the Message

The campaign’s strategic messaging reflected the information we received from satisfied employees, as well as the Hudl ethos — straightforward, honest, hard working, and team-oriented. In many instances, the copy needed to convey multiple ideas in small spaces. The billboards, bus ads, and bus benches needed to quickly express that Hudl was a sports and technology company coming to Omaha and hiring technology professionals.

Rolling with the Punches

We created assets for various formats. Everything from Twitter ads to billboards.

Replacing the Playbook

We created a video to provide an efficient overview of Hudl’s product, its work style, and employee benefits. While there wasn’t a specific time limit, we wanted to keep the video succinct. Big ideas like Hudl’s transformation of the sports industry were conveyed in a few seconds by animating custom illustrations. An old playbook is replaced by a tablet showing plays. A stack of DVD’s is replaced by a video playing on an iPhone. We animated icons used throughout the website to reinforce the work squads and Hudl’s benefits.

A Note from the Creative Director

Working with the fastest-growing company in Nebraska was an honor for us. Our role was to enhance Hudl’s existing creative team, bring an outside perspective to the table, and push the creative envelope. The combination of our adaptive team and their internal culture of direct communication made it possible for us to execute an aggressive timeline.

As creatives, there is no better request than to be asked to solve a problem using your creative expertise. This is exactly what Hudl did. They approached us with the problem they were facing — doubling their employees in under six months — and asked us to provide a solution. Our strategy and creative work were tested by their teams. Communication was consistent and direct for the duration of the project. And setbacks or obstacles were solved collaboratively. We couldn’t have asked for a better team to play alongside.

"Grain & Mortar’s work was a huge part of Hudl's success this year.

We more than doubled our product team, and we’ve got 10 people already lined up to join us in 2015. Keep up the great work."

Matt Mueller

General Manager of Team Sports, Hudl