Magazine article Talent Development

How to Enhance Your Training Brand: A Company's Brand Is about More Than a Clever Name or Trendy Logo. the Training Brand Should Also Draw out Customer Connections That Go Deep into the Hearts and Minds of Learners

Magazine article Talent Development

How to Enhance Your Training Brand: A Company's Brand Is about More Than a Clever Name or Trendy Logo. the Training Brand Should Also Draw out Customer Connections That Go Deep into the Hearts and Minds of Learners

Article excerpt

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The power of branding is a hot topic these days, but applying brand concepts to your training team or organization may sound challenging. In reality, the process of building your training brand may take some time and energy, but it's very manageable, and in the end, it is well worth the effort involved. Creating and maintaining a strong training brand can result in loyal, happy customers, making you and your team more successful and effective.

What is it?

If you stopped a group of strangers on the street and asked them to define the word "brand," you would likely hear many different answers, and most of them would be--at least in part--correct. Branding is a multifaceted concept that includes many different aspects.

In the early days of product branding, a brand was used to create a sense of trust with potential consumers outside the immediate geographical area of the company. In today's market, a company's brand is used for much more than just creating trust. Today, when talking about a brand, it is not just talking about symbol or logo.

A brand represents the entire look and feel of a company. A strong brand is used to create a set of expectations for customers. It is not uncommon for a brand to create an emotional or sociological connection between a company and consumers. All of these aspects of a brand influence consumers' purchasing decisions. The brand is a vehicle that a company uses to acquire and retain customers. And a powerful brand directly affects a company's bottom line.

A brand is personal (as it lives in the mind of each individual), and it can be affected by just about anything. Perhaps the best way to define the idea of a brand is to say that it is the sum of every customer experience. It is everything, all put together.

Guidelines

When considering undertaking the process of building your training brand, it's important to realize that you do already have a brand of some kind. Even if you've never thought about branding before, and even if you've never intentionally branded yourself or your team, you do already have a brand, living in the minds of your customers and potential customers.

Imagine an exercise in which a group of your current or potential customers are in a room, and a neutral facilitator has asked them to brainstorm responses to your organization's name or logo. What words would they call out to be scribed on the chart? What emotions would they share? What conclusions have they drawn about doing business with you (based either on past experience or on the reputation you have built through your branding efforts)?

If your brand is currently weak, then the exercise probably would not take much time. The room would stay fairly quiet, and the chart would stay fairly empty. If you conducted this exercise with a group of current customers who have had recent experiences with your training function, their responses would be based on those experiences, and your brand's strength, positively or negatively, would be revealed.

Training teams that are not intentional about their branding efforts are in essence, leaving their customers' perception of them to chance. Training organizations that approach their brand with intent have a specific desired outcome in mind. …

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