You have a personal brand and training has a brand, whether you manage them or leave them to chance.
A brand is simply what people think of when they hear the name of a product or service; it is a capsule summary of their perception of a product’s attributes, benefits, and value.
Companies regard a good brand reputation as one of their most valuable assets, because it influences people’s willingness to engage with their products and services. That is why they go to great efforts to create and maintain a positive brand image.
Brand also matters in learning and development.
Management’s opinion of training’s “brand” influences their willingness to invest time, money, and effort in learning initiatives. Employees’ perception of training’s brand influences their willingness to engage in learning activities and the attitude with which they approach learning.
For that reason, it is important for you to know how you want to be perceived and what the perception of training’s brand is today.
If you were to stop 20 employees in your organization and ask what they think of when they hear the word “training,” what would they say?
Would they list positive attributes like: valuable, relevant, engaging, and useful or would they use negative terms like boring, irrelevant, or waste of time?
If you discover that training has a poor brand image in your company today, you need to fix it. A negative perception of training adversely affects your funding, your effectiveness, and ultimately your career.
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
The place to start is by defining what you want learning’s brand to be.
Take a minute and write down what you want people in your company to think of when they hear “training” or “learning and development.”
There is no one right answer. Different organizations, even in the same industry, can choose different brand strategies and be successful. Think of Walmart and Nordstrom in retail.
The important thing is to have a clear vision for what you want training’s brand to be and a plan to achieve it.
In our 6Ds workshops, we often ask participants: What do you want training’s brand to be?
One of the favorite answers we have ever heard is: “Unmistakable value, every time.”
Wouldn’t it be terrific if the employees in your company associated Learning and Development with “unmistakable value, every time”?
Think how much easier and more effective your job would be.
A Brand Is a Promise Kept
But deciding what you want your brand to be is just the beginning.
A brand is much more than a vision, a clever tag line, or a catchy logo. Brand perception is the sum of all a person’s interactions with a company, a product, or a service. It takes time and effort to build a positive brand image and vigilance to maintain it.
If you want a reputation for delivering quality and value, you have to deliver quality and value, every single time. Every program you offer, all the materials you produce, the performance support you provide, and every assessment you conduct must be high-quality and consistent with the image you are trying to achieve.
A single poorly-taught class, boring e-learning program, or superficial assessment damages your brand image in the same way that a defective product adversely impacts a company’s reputation.
According to Chris Quinn, president of Imprint Learning Solutions, “Brands matter. And because brands matter, they have to be managed and marketed.”
If you are not actively managing and marketing learning’s brand, you should be.
Want to learn more about maximizing training’s effectiveness and brand? Join us for a 6Ds workshop.
Additional information is available here: http://the6ds.com/workshops/