L&D branding: how to market L&D for higher visibility

Why brand Learning & Development?

The emphasis today is on lifelong learning and the need to upskill and reskill workforces at pace. Learning and Development can have a pivotal role in the shift to organizational cultures where learning is at the fore, with L&D having strategic importance rather than being seen as reactionary.

Reasons for branding L&D:

  • To change perceptions of L&D from order taker and provider to instigator
  • To reposition L&D so a vision of what it can offer the organisation as a whole can be presented
  • To raise the profile of L&D, and to build trust and confidence in what’s behind the brand
  • To educate and raise awareness of learning and development processes, from needs analysis through to evaluation
  • To bring together all the ‘people development’ elements into one coherent brand
  • To signpost to whom to contact if there is a learning need
  • To enable managerial and leadership buy in to L&D’s role in supporting strategic business goals
  • A brand can be used to communicate and set the learning agenda and instil a culture of learning

(The above points are a summary of the LearningPool article How branding can transform your learning and development )


My key tips on creating a brand for L&D:

What does your brand need to represent?

Firstly, it’s not about creating a brand just to have a nice logo to put on everything. It has to mean something. It’s important that any brand is rooted into the organizations’ strategy, vision or values. These will give you clues as to what’s important. What’s the underlying theme, or mood of the organisation? What is it you need to achieve through the L&D function? These are all things you will need to think about. You may want to create a ‘mission statement’ to accompany your branding that sets it in context of what it aims to achieve.

Use ‘naturally occurring’ events

A key success of mine has always been to use those events that are happening and to take advantage of them when you are working out your brand. So, if senior leaders are getting together for an awayday, or there are some large group events, ask if you can have a slot to brainstorm ideas and themes that can help you build your brand. The name or the title is just one aspect, there needs to be some thought as to what this means, what it stands for.

Join everything up

Branding is one element, there are other key elements such as your L&D strategy and important documents like your policy. Your policy document sets out the framework of how you will operate. Key principles like equality of access to training and development are things that need considering. Once your policy and framework are clear, your brand is how you bring it to life and communicate it to everyone.

Be visual

That’s what branding is for isn’t it? A nice logo and a colour is a starting point that even the smallest L&D team can accommodate. With larger teams, bigger budgets and access to graphic designers you are unlimited in potential. Get creative.

Go broad

The more your brand can encompass the better. I’ve included performance management systems with their corresponding behaviour or competency frameworks as there’s a natural synergy with these and training offerings. Any interventions, coaching, executive awaydays, can sit under the brand umbrella. It doesn’t matter if things are arranged by different teams, the brand can unify the work of different departments if it’s all pointing in the same direction.

Use a launch to communicate what it’s all about

A launch is a great way to communicate purpose and intent. Even if you don’t have everything that you want to do in place at the outset, you can tell people what’s coming.

Work with key stakeholders early

It’s important not to get too far ahead with your ideas without involving your key stakeholders. In each of my case study examples, I had to ‘win over’ unconvinced Communications teams as to the need for an L&D brand. These days that may not be the case with ‘employer branding’ being a more prevalent and understood concept. Be prepared to present a full business case for the reasons for needing an L&D brand, I explore this more in my blog ‘What L&D and Marketing can learn from each other’


Want to know more? Read my Case studies

 I’ve been fortunate enough to have set up learning functions from scratch more than once, and each time there were particular reasons that made it right to create a brand. Here are two case studies with what I did and how and why I did it:

A ‘progressive’ local authority brand

This case-study is from a local authority of 600 employees with a newly created training function.

Branding to create a ‘one-organisation’ feel in a group structure

This case study is from a housing group of 1000+ employees, which had six different organisations under a group structure and wanting to move to a more centralised structure.

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