Building your learning brand

How much attention do you pay to what others know and how they feel about your learning team?

Have you built a strong brand awareness in your business? Does your audience know and care about what you do/offer?

To get people excited about learning and making use of your resources and tools, first they must know that you even exist and what you can offer, you need to build your brand.

Building a brand around learning and the teams that deliver this is vitally important in creating a evolving connection with your audience so they in turn can benefit from what you offer.

People engage and trust brands that offer them something unique, the brands that offer them great products and services that will help them in some way. This is what we need to replicate in learning, we need to build a brand that our audiences want to engage with, a brand that is visible, trusted and which people will want to work with.

You don’t need any expert skills to build your brand awareness, we just need to use some of the tactics that our friends in marketing use so well.

With any brand, we need to establish it’s identity and easily showcase this identity in a simple way across the business.

Let’s explore some of the core concepts in building your brand:

Who we are

Well who are you? Who are the L&D team, who are the people that make up this wonderful team that enable employees to grow?

You need to make the members of your team visible, your audience should know what they do, what are the skills and specialist expertise they all have. You must promote the collection of these skills and experiences in your marketing campaigns, so your audience understands the credibility you bring.

What we do = what we offer!

A very good point, so what do you do?

I would bet that if you asked most people what they thought their L&D teams do, the common response would be “They send us those annoying yearly compliance modules and make me complete those boring code of conduct declarations too”.

I have found that many people have quite an archaic view of the role L&D teams play in the business and in their own career. They see us as enforcers of stuff that they must complete to tick a box and be left alone to do their day job as opposed to being enablers of growth.

This is where you need to change the narrative from ‘what we do’ to ‘what we offer’.

We don’t do learning, we offer the opportunity to learn and the potential for you to grow, to be better than you were last week.

Move the story from one of box ticking boring requirements to enabling people to focus on their personal development.

It’s vital not only for your audience, but for your team to be clear on your function in the grand scale of your business. Everyone in the L&D team should be able to simply promote what it is the learning functions offers every person in the business.

Why we can help you

The why, the oh so important why!!

This part of your brand is very, very…….very important.

Your audience needs to understand why you can help them and how you intend to do this.

I’ve spoken several times about how you can use the application of why across anything and everything. It applies to a number of situations, not just in marketing and building brand awareness.

The centre of your learning brand should focus on why people will want to engage with you, why we can help everyone develop their skills/experiences/career and then move onto how you can do this together.

In summary, you build the foundations of your learning brand through establishing the who, what and why.

Let’s collaborate

I find that the best brands are those which allow their audience to feel part of the family. The brands that enable people to contribute and collaborate on projects together.

Through my own experiences I have found much of this to be true, when people feel like they are part of something and are proud of it, they are more likely to share this thought with others who generally in turn want to be part of that movement too.

Think of some of the leading brands in the technology industry like Apple and Google, they have billions of users which they try to convert from just your everyday consumer of products and services into brand advocates.

We can learn from these brands and look to make our audiences feel like they are part of a learning brand too.

This can be done simply through building champion networks, groups of people who are keen to support the learning agenda in your business. These people can be a fantastic weapon in promoting what you offer to the masses, especially if they feel like they are part of what you’re creating.

We can offer these groups the opportunity to be part of pilot learning programmes, test out new solutions and provide their commentary on marketing campaigns or new learning solutions that we wish to share across the business.

Making people feel part of your brand is not only important in building the awareness of your work, it is also beneficial in collecting real world thoughts and data from the very type of people you want to engage. These people serve as the voice of your customer, one which you’ll want to connect with often to understand how you can keep making things better.

The brand advocate/employee wins too, as they will have access to a wealth of development opportunities by investing their time with your L&D team, so everyone can be a winner.

Let’s grow together

I’m going to unpack in more detail some of the points briefly touched on in the previous section around L&D teams and your audience being able to grow together through the partnership of building a brand.

As mentioned, the advantage to having advocates of your learning brand are not only the extended marketing promotion these groups can bring but also the role they can play as the voice of your audience.

Brand advocates are the people who can provide you with valuable data that can allow you to shape your learning offer to the wants and needs of the business.

These groups can collect the thoughts, feedback and ideas of the general population that will allow you to gather a variety of insights and take actions from these. You’ll be able to find out how your solutions are landing, their performance and if people are actually improving because of them.

Building a partnership that enables both parties is a real asset for any learning brand.

The advocates that work with you can receive access to lots of cool and exciting stuff which they can use to develop their skills. In turn, your L&D team will receive a free extended marketing team, access to real world data and the opportunity to grow your brand together with the people that really matter.

Some thoughts on what you can do next

When you next sit down to evaluate or design your learning strategy, consider your brand awareness in your own business.

Have you enabled your L&D teams to be set up for success? Does the business and your audience know the 3 key pillars of who you are, what you offer and why you can help?

If you’re struggling to connect people with your learning offer and all of its solutions, maybe it’s not the quality of these solutions, maybe it’s just that people don’t know who you are or why they should care.

It could be that you just have a branding problem and that my friends, you can change with a little bit of work, so before you tear up your latest solution or strategy, think about the perception of your learning brand.

Are the people aware of the who, what and why of your L&D function? If not then maybe your problem is in building a better brand for learning, not in buying another flashy do it all LMS or subscribing to yet another new methodology.

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