The topic of branding periodically comes up in my workshops, usually accompanied by a series of questions: “What is branding?” “How does branding differ from marketing?” “How do we do it?” And finally, “What is the value of branding?” This blog will address each of these questions and help you identify if branding is for you and your training department.
What is branding?
Branding is an idea, image, and/or slogan that your customers connect with. It creates the expectation that there is something of value to be received from your product/services that sets you apart from others who provide similar products or services. The Nike swoosh and the phrase “Just do it,” for example, are part of the Nike company’s brand. Implications are that, with Nike, you can accomplish whatever your fitness goal may be. (Nike, by the way, is named after the Greek goddess of victory.)
Some potential slogans for training might be: “Knowledge is power; come exercise your muscles.” “The learning organization—where our door and your mind are always open.” “Growing the organization, one mind/class at a time.” “Making sure our company is built to last.” At Langevin, we are “The World’s Largest Train-the-Trainer Company” as you know!
You might also choose to accompany your slogan with a graphic that would be appropriate for your organization and that relates to your branding.
How does branding differ from marketing?
Marketing is the strategy/process that gets your brand out in the organization. To continue with the Nike example, the Nike swoosh and the phrase, “Just do it” are part of the brand; the TV commercials and print ads are two of the ways the brand is marketed. In training, newsletters, the company website, and email are all ways to get your slogan, graphic, etc., and your products/services circulating in the organization.
You might, for example, post the following ad in a company newsletter:
“Training: Making sure our company is built to last.
Sign up today for the Supervisors training program, October 16-17, 20XX, and become one of the cornerstones for growth in our organization. Learn how to coach employees, conduct performance appraisals, identify and apply your leadership skills, and more.”
How do we do it?
You may eventually need to work with your marketing or human resources department, but start with input from your training staff. Together, consider the following:
- Identify who you are and how you want to be viewed in the organization. Then create the image you want. To help make that image a reality, take cues from how your materials look, how your staff interacts with others (both inside and outside the training room), and how you answer questions on the phones. Do you want to be appreciated for the value you bring to the organization, to be known for the quality of the courses you offer, and the ability to partner with departments to find training and non-training solutions for performance issues? If the answer is yes, then find a way to communicate these things with your brand.
- If you use a slogan, graphic, icon, etc., make sure it is something that is sustainable, otherwise the branding effort will not succeed.
- Lastly, since branding sets the expectation that there is something of value to be received from your product/services, make sure your training department delivers what it promises.
What is the value of branding?
Branding is a way to help to manage the expectations that people have about training. It is an additional way to increase the perception of value that training brings to the organization.
In Langevin’s How Adults Learn workshop, we have the learners review seven key components of the Principles of Adult Learning and create a motto/slogan that will indicate what their training department stands for; in other words, we ask them to come up with a branding statement. It starts with, “In our training department we…” In our Marketing Your Training Internally workshop and self-study kit, we guide you in creating a practical, results-oriented marketing plan to increase the credibility of your department.
Based on what you now know about branding, how would YOU complete the statement?