When corporations are faced with reducing organizational expenses, so often the first area to get the cut is Learning and Development (L&D) functions. What few companies fail to realize is that trimming L&D may generate an immediate, short term return, but in the long run, they reap the costs of not investing in what matters most…their people asset.
As a result of the downturn in the economy, many businesses are faced with the decision to cut segments and employees in order to remain solvent. One segment that isn’t a revenue-generating function and is hard-pressed to sell its value is the L&D function. How can this key area reduce its chances of being cut? By establishing a respected and recognizable brand, L&D functions may be able to better defend its position within the organization and preserve its role in developing talent.
According to the Learning and Development Roundtable, there are four main steps in building a strong brand for your training and development functions:
1. Identify the value of the L&D function. How valuable is your training segment to your customers? Is your function visible within the organization? What do your customers need? How do they perceive your area? How can you improve to better meet their needs?
2. Define how your brand will stand out from the rest. Use the insights gained from your customers to identify the key components of your brand. These components should incorporate the value that your Learning and Development function provides to the organization. Formulate this information into a well-written mission statement. Include the purpose of your function, what sets you apart from other functions, and the value you provide your customers and the organization.
3. Design your brand. Determine the best way to communicate your training function’s purpose and mission. Identify the core values of your function in a clear and concise manner and create visuals to relay those values. Designs can include logos, communications and other visuals.
4. Promote your brand. Conveying the value of your training function is key for organizations facing challenges as a result of the changes in our economy. Learning and development functions should look to market their brand through its interactions with its customers, especially major stakeholders. Also, explore ways to integrate training into other programs and initiatives.
By building a strong brand within the organization, L&D functions can create a positive perception of learning and establish their function as a key contributor to the success of the organization.
Corporate Executive Board, “Building a Strong Brand for the L&D Function”, Learning and Development Roundtable.