How your brand affects your learning solution

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importance of branding in online learning featIt’s an easy thing to overlook, or take for granted, but your brand has a significant effect on your business. It’s the face you show your customers, the voice you use to address the world and it’s the first thing that comes to mind whenever your company’s name is mentioned.

Your brand is also a vital part of your online learning solution. Consider your Learning Management System for a moment. Now imagine a topsy-turvy world in which the system didn’t have any options for custom branding. Your LMS looks exactly the same as any other and your learners could just as easily be using a parking meter as taking learning content.

When it’s put like that, you can understand that your company’s brand is a largely unappreciated feature of the environment, like a wall. In much the same way as a wall, if your brand wasn’t there, the whole house might just collapse around you.

Nightmare scenarios aside though, let’s take a look at how your brand works to support an effective learning solution.

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Your Brand condenses the company’s values

fuel slider imageUnbranded, off-the-shelf eLearning can give your learners all of the facts… which is nice. The problem with facts is that facts are easily forgotten and their potential to make a real difference is greatly reduced. For online learning to succeed it needs to focus on behavioural change, not just imparting empty knowledge.

To make sure your learners display the ideal behaviours, all of the training needs to be built with the values of the company in mind. These values define everything your company stands for and a strong brand should condense these values into an overall impression.

A branded learning platform reinforces the values behind the learning content, even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

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let learners express themselvesThe brand is a framework, not a rule book

The brand is a visual reminder of what your company stands for, not an extensive list of rules and regulations. This makes it an important reference point for your learners and in the absence of an explicit training resource, it should guide them towards the correct behaviour.

As an example, imagine a learning technologies company whose brand is based around the values of excitement, fun and positivity. If a new marketing executive is told to write an article for the company blog, they could search for a style guide, or another resource that defines the company’s voice.

If the brand reflects the values strongly enough, that new marketing executive simply needs to look around at the colourful office décor and read the punchy taglines on the walls. By doing this, they instantly know that it’s much more on-brand to ‘fight the war against dull online learning’ than it is to ‘deliver robust instructional solutions’.

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Strong brands spawn ambassadors

A learning platform without branding is like a country without a flag. When you have a brand that neatly sums up everything your business stands for, you also have a symbol that your learners can identify with. In the context of a learning platform, a solid brand can go a long way towards creating true believers within your company.

brand leaderWhy are true believers important? Well, people are so regularly exposed to marketing fluff and corporate propaganda that the first reaction is one of distrust and cynicism – two things that are fatal to a learning programme.

If your company releases a document saying ‘we’re the best company around’, most people will take it with a generous pinch of salt. However, if a fellow employee posts a similar message on your learning platform, everyone will understand that, to do such a thing voluntarily, the individual must really believe it.

When a true believer sets a good example, the impact on behaviour is much more profound than when your learners simply read something from a piece of training collateral. Without a flag beneath which to march, these ambassadors never reveal themselves and a powerful (and incidentally, free) learning resource is lost.

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If you think of your learning platform as a machine, it can only meet its potential if all of the parts are working the way they should. An LMS that simply pushes content to learners can’t hope to inspire any real behavioural change.

To do this, you need to engage your learners, create a space that’s relevant to them (and your company) and bring them together on a social platform. Want to find out how? Just download our Engagement Engine Workbook.

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