Training and learning experiences offer great opportunities for staff within your organization to refocus on what matters most. As such, it is important to ensure that these experiences function as an extension of your brand as well as look like and sound like the culture that you and your employees have created. Participants in training are often the customer-facing representatives of the brand, so training content must not only convey the desired objectives and messages, but also further reinforce the hallmarks of your brand and customer promise. Your captive training audience can’t help but absorb the messaging of brand and culture if they are the foundation that each training is built upon.
Who Creates Your Brand Perception?
While the perception of your brand is essentially defined by those who experience it, your reputation is built from the inside out by your employees, products, and services and the experiences that each of those creates when interacting with your customers. What your employees are doing and how they are doing it is a direct reflection on the core components of your brand. Be it your Mission, Vision, Values, Pillars, or other aspects of culture, these components communicate the internal expectations that have been set as your parameters.
According to Harvard Business Review, online retailer Zappos puts every new hire through an intensive four-week training program that goes beyond an orientation, covering brand values, strategy, and culture. The idea of having thousands of well-trained brand loyalists interacting with customers is a potent one and not exactly new. But what is new is the realization by more and more organizations that all employees are seen as liaisons of their brand.
Internal Branding Must Be a Priority
Learning events present a fantastic opportunity to teach employees the facets of your branding messages and how to become strong brand ambassadors. And, as our VP of Brand Development discussed in this recent blog, teaching more about these core components of the company helps set up the ‘Why,” which is crucial for buy-in and a common understanding of the company’s parameters for conducting business. Your brand sets the parameters for how your team members interact with customers as well as each other.
When looking for opportunities to incorporate branding into your training, all subjects are fair game. Whether the training involves technical nuts and bolts (operations, systems, or professional certification) or more soft skills (coaching, relationship building, or sales), all roles have the potential to positively impact company revenue, employee retention, and customer loyalty. In other words, nearly any moment has the potential to be a “brandable” moment.
What Does It Look Like?
Early in my career I learned the importance of partnering with the marketing department of any company I’m working with. In essence, your training is part of the internal branding message. So, consider your training visuals. Do those involved in designing your communication and training material follow whatever guidelines exist for your corporate identity (CI)? Do your training communications, PowerPoints and handouts reflect your brand? From logos, graphics to the wording that is used, there needs to be an awareness of staying “on brand.” I’ve worked with clients where clip art is taboo while others prefer it over stock photography. It’s all in the feeling that you are looking to create. To be cliché, a picture does paint a thousand words. For those employees who may not know how to internalize your messages, visuals are an opportunity to further communicate who you are as an organization.
Next, as you prepare for your training event, think in terms of your available “real estate” to further communicate your brand. There really is no limit to what you can create, such as merchandise, signage, napkins, cups, demonstration sessions, exhibits, takeaways, even branded food or drinks. Consider how all of the various elements that make up a training experience can work together to create a memorable learning event.
So, if you haven’t been connecting your learning messages to your brand, it’s time to connect the dots! As for the training opportunities that are out there, can you overdo it? Next time we’ll take a look at training frequency – can you actually create training fatigue? In the meantime, contact us for any of your training needs!