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Seb Anthony

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Branding of Learning Materials


At the risk of answering my own question, I have a view that some learning materials are better received if they do not adhere strictly to company brand guidelines. They can be more innovative, more personalised and can encourage the learner to break from convention - particularly useful in generating ideas for change.
I see them as different from corporate communications, which by definition benefit from branding. Does "brand" restrict creative learning messages (visual impact, use of language, use of metaphors), or is brand vital for consistency and promotion of the company ethos, even in learning programmes? Interested in your views!

Sue Ramsey

7 Responses

  1. Yes….
    Great question Sue!

    Students of Accelerated Learning will know where I’m coming from in my reply.

    Those familiar with AL will tend perhaps towards the ‘yes’ camp – company style and branding CAN reduce effectiveness of the learning materials.

    Branding & transmission of values & ethos happens in every case – though what is actually received can be different to what is INTENDED to be received.

    If you have wonderfully engaging & effective training experiences (lots of AL perhaps!!), surely materials that match this will be consistent with the ethos the company has in providing great training.

    My experience is that where an organisation is overly restrictive and prescriptive about training materials, you may as well not bother – they are so unattractive that they end up being sideshows or door stops instead of really useful in their own right. And if this is the case, why bother spending the time & effort producing them?

    Best wishes,

    Martin Schmalenbach

  2. not sure if this is relevant but…
    Hi Sue
    I’m not sure if the Branding of the actual change programme falls into the subject you are broaching.
    I’ve been around the block long enough to have heard comments from staff along the lines of
    “This “super, new” change programme is exactly the same as “Customer X” in 2001 and “Everybody Sells” in 1996 and “We care” in 1989….I’ve got the mug and the enamel pin from each of those so now I can add to the trophy cabinet”
    In these instances not only the organisational brand but the initiative brand is tarnished

  3. Branding
    I think the answer is yes and no. Yes I think you should be consistent with the corporate brand. If everyone goes off and does there own thing there is a danger that the corpoarte message gets muddled. However, I don’t think you should stick to the sort of templates that have been created for other purposes. L&D should have sufficient flex to be able to model best practice in L&D – including being creative – but I don’t see that as in any way inconsistent with being true to the brand.
    I’d suggest you talk with the marketing folk and agree a set of conventions that will support L&D (rather than constain it) so that everyone is happy. This is what happens in most sensible organisations.

  4. what does your branding say about you in the first place?
    I’m all for branding being consistent, but I would ask that if you think the company brand “depresses” the learning materials, what on earth does it say to your customers?

  5. Yes and No
    I think it’s yes and no and really depends on the brand, how the staff feel about it and also how your company markets it’s brand amongst staff. It used to be a major bug bear for me with my previous employer. Their branding was very tired and yet they insisted that we must continue to use it. When launching new initiatives I felt it hindered me because it didn’t look new as the branding of it was so old that I felt it took away alot of the impact.

    I also felt it got in the way in other ways. They also had a reputation of dictating changes so staff often switched off as soon as they saw or attended any form of communication. They paid alot of lip service to the brand but didn’t really back it up with actions so staff didn’t really buy into it.

    My new employers however are very pro brand and are very big on celebrating success so any sight of it tends to go down very well. So much so that the thought of not using it fills me with dread

  6. Unbiased learning materials
    The only issue for me about using in-house, corporate learning materials (and it’s likely to be an important one!) is that they need to be completely unbiased. With the best will in the world but usually with both eyes on marketing and promotion, bias tends to creep in either in terms of a preferred internal culture or a leaning towards certain leadership/management styles.

    In such cases, learning is inevitably restricted to the organisational viewpoints.

  7. Thanks everyone!
    Hi Everyone,
    Many thanks for your thoughts and comments. I was very much coming from the accelerated learning viewpoint with this query, and in no way suggesting that our brand was dull or tired! We use a lot of AL techniques in our learning programmes and some of our visuals reflect this, which is why I don’t brand some of them.
    I’ll continue to discuss this with our brand people, but have a deeper understanding of the issue thanks to your replies.
    Have a great year!


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