Leveling Up: The Effects of Branding on Gamified Assessments

August 11, 2020 Aon's Assessment Solutions

The gamification of talent assessment for hiring and selection is growing fast. This is the process in which game elements are designed into an already robust talent assessment with the purpose of making the assessment more engaging, motivating and fun for candidates. Gamified assessments may also serve as an opportunity for organizations to shape the applicants’ views of the hiring organization.

We wanted to explore the area of branding of gamified assessments and how this affects applicants’ views of a hiring organization and we were delighted to have had a paper successfully submitted to the 2020 SIOP Annual Conference, in partnership with colleagues from Michigan State University and Baruch College & the Graduate Center, CUNY 

A Background to Branding

A brand represents a “name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them which is intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those other competitors” (Kotler, 1997, p. 443). A brand’s strength can be influenced by its identity, meaning and associations, ability to elicit consumer responses, and the ability to forge loyalty with consumers (Keller, 2001).

In the recruitment context, an organization’s brand refers to the set of distinguishing characteristics that applicants identify with a possible employer. This brand image can influence whether or not a candidate accepts a job offer, and what they tell others about the organization.

Our Study

We focused in two broad areas that candidates may consider about an organization; its attraction and its personality. To understand its attraction we considered general attractiveness (i.e., the organization is viewed as desirable place of employment) and prestige (i.e., the organization is viewed as famous and well-known) that applicants feel towards the organization (Highhouse, Lievens, & Sinar, 2003).

Organizational personality represents a collection of human characteristics that individuals associate with a brand. Slaughter et al., (2004) conducted a series of studies to and identified five personality inferences individuals make about organizations, including positive attributes such as boy scout (e.g., honest, attentive to people), innovativeness (e.g., creative, unique), dominance (e.g., successful, popular), style (e.g., trendy, contemporary), and the negative attribute of thrift (e.g., simple, sloppy).

215 undergraduate students from the US took part with participants completing an initial online survey to assess their gaming experience, demographics, views on the hiring organization (a well-known brand name) and computer-use self-efficacy. Four days later, participants completed an online cognitive ability assessment. For some, the assessment was branded in the company’s colors, and the company’s name and logo displayed. Immediately after the assessment was completed, participants completed a second survey reassessing their views on the hiring organization. For some participants a narrative wrapped around the assessment explaining how the assessment fits within the organization, was included.

The results showed that:

The attractiveness of the organization is not impacted by branding

The results showed that there was no significant difference in organizational attraction between branded and non-branded gamified assessments nor were there any effects of the narrative wrapper on attraction. 

Participants view the organization as more contemporary when branding is used.

Participants view the hiring organization as having more style (trendy, contemporary) with branding of the assessment. Perhaps this is unsurprising given that gamification is a trendy and novel approach to assessment, and so participants transferred this association to the brand.

We already know that applicant views of a company can be influenced by an organization’s hiring process (Hausknecht, Day, & Thomas, 2004). In our study, we built on this and found that the inclusion of branding during gamified assessments is another way in which applicant reactions can be affected, albeit in a narrower manner.

If you would like to explore how to include gamified assessment in your organization, then get in touch.


Congratulations to the following authors who successfully submitted this research to the 2020 SIOP Annual Conference:

Philip S. DeOrtentiis
Michigan State University

Zachary W. Woessner
Michigan State University

Ann Marie Ryan
Michigan State University

Nathan Thomas Brucher
Michigan State University

Christopher D. Nye
Michigan State University

Rabindra Ratan
Michigan State University

Sarah Kuang
Michigan State University

Sarena Bhatia

Nicholas R. Martin
Aon's Assessment Solutions

Alina Siemsen
Aon's Assessment Solutions

Richard Justenhoven
Aon's Assessment Solutions

Tara K. McClure
Aon's Assessment Solutions

Manuel F. Gonzalez
Baruch College & The Graduate Center, CUNY



Hausknecht, J.P., Day, D.V., & Thomas, S.C. (2004). Applicant reactions to selection procedures: An updated model and meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology. 57(3)

Highhouse, S., Lievens, F., & Sinar, E. F. (2003). Measuring attraction to organizations. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 63(6), 986–1001.

Kotler, P. (1997). Marketing management (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Keller, L.K. (2001). Building customer-based brand equity: A blueprint for creating strong brands. Marketing Science Institute. Working paper.

Slaughter, J. E., Zickar, M. J., Highhouse, S., & Mohr, D. C. (2004). Personality Trait Inferences about Organizations: Development of a Measure and Assessment of Construct Validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(1), 85–103.


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Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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