What is the brand of learning & development?

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Written by Paul Matthews on 25 February 2014

Here is a thought experiment for you. On second thoughts, why don't you make it a real experiment, and do it for real? Go around and ask people in your organisation, particularly managers at all levels, what they think about learning & development.

What do they think is the purpose of L&D?

What do they think L&D does?

What value do they think L&D adds to the organisation?

Who do they think L&D really is?

Ask them what they say about L&D when you are not in the room.


This is your brand. Do you like it? Does this brand work for you?

Does this brand allow you to operate effectively within the organisation?

Most people I speak with say the answer is no. Their current brand actually limits their ability to be effective in the way they would like to be.

Given your purpose in the organisation, does your brand give you the leverage you need to be effective at doing what your purpose suggests that you should be doing?

With the way that the role of L&D has to change to keep pace with changes in technology, changes in understanding of the way people learn at work, changes in the economy and the impact it has on budgets, and a host of other external changes, it is almost certain that your brand is well out of date.

Your brand may have been perfect for the kind of things you needed to be doing 5, 10, or even 20 years ago, but I would bet that for most of you, your brand is not supporting the things you need to be doing today.

Having said that, it is also almost certain that your brand as L&D has not been thought about in a focused way, if at all. When was the last time you thought about your brand as the L&D department?

So your next move is to go and buy the people in your marketing or external communications department a beer, and have them help you understand what a brand is, and how to develop it. Talk to them about rebranding L&D, or whatever you currently call your department.

Get them to help with the steps to understanding what your brand is right now, understanding what you would like your brand to be, and then closing the gap by modifying your brand.

And if you're thinking to yourself, we don't have a brand, you are wrong. You always have a brand in that other people will always have an opinion about you. What they think of you, and how you appear to the outside world, is your brand.

What brand do you want? In a year's time if you go and do the same survey I suggested at the beginning of this blog, what do you want the responses to be?

This starts you thinking about what you want your brand to be.

There is a lot you can do to affect your brand but one of the biggest things that will modify your brand, or indeed entrench an existing brand, is the way you behave.

If you say that your brand is one thing, and then behave in a way that is not congruent with that brand, you will be labelled inauthentic. This leads to a lack of trust, and potentially even derision. If you change the trappings of your brand, but do not change your behaviour to match them, you run the risk of becoming a laughing stock.

So make sure the brand you decide to put out there is one you can live up to.

Good luck!

About the author
Paul Matthews is the founder of People Alchemy. He can be contacted via www.peoplealchemy.co.uk

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