The Rapid Elearning Blog

e-learning branding

When I worked at this one place, we could only use a single PowerPoint slide for any presentation or anytime we created content in PowerPoint. There was nothing particularly special about the slide other than the fact it was the approved slide because it had the company logo and colors plastered all over it.

This became an issue when we transitioned to one of the early rapid e-learning applications. Since the courses started in PowerPoint, the branding was on every slide and took up limited screen space that we needed to actually teach people.

However, what we lacked in a great learning experience was made up covered by the fact that all employees knew where they worked.

A constant challenge with courses is how to deal with the organization’s visual identity and various branding requirements which usually have little to do with learning.

So, here are a few questions I’d like to pose for discussion:

  • Do you really need to brand your courses?
  • How does it contribute to the learning experience?
  • Does it help meet any learning objectives?
  • If there was no branding requirement, how would it change the course?
  • Should it be a requirement that even in live training sessions, the marketing team inserts a sign twirler who screams out the name of the company every few minutes?

I’ve built plenty of courses over the years and have spent more than enough hours with clients and marketing team. So, I know many of the reasons we have for adding the brand content to our courses. I just wonder if it really matters and what value it adds.

What do you think?


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16 responses to “Why Do E-Learning Courses Need a Company Brand?”

May 18th, 2021

Obtrusive branding does more harm than good. To play devil’s advocate, though, I can think of at least one situation where branding might be important: Company-branded learning sends the message that the organization is investing in custom training, which may be important to employees who value training. Even in this case, however, a logo splash and subtle branding should be just fine.

Yes! Branding is important along with professional style guidance. People equate consistency with trustworthiness. However, it needs to be subtle. Logos don’t have to be on every slide and colors need to be rooted in the organization’s brand. Besides logo and colors, branding includes intangible marks as well. Who does this organization associate with? Are there professional standards reflected in the way the learning is presented? It is an art to do it right.

May 18th, 2021

In the past, we branded everything! We used to joke that we bled black and gold. But our subsidiaries have their own unique color schemes, so we typically use a generic color scheme on things built for the entire organization.

Likewise, we are known for changing up our branding every couple of years, which is then a nightmare to go back and rebrand. I prefer to keep it simple and avoid using any branding that is subject to change in the future!

Branding company colors, logos, etc. isn’t as important as just giving the learners a consistent look and feel to the course. One of the most important aspects of learning is to remove barriers so the learner can focus on the important aspects of the course (content) rather than superficial items like navigation and functionality. If learners take consecutive courses with the same functionality, appearance, and navigation, these barriers are removed and become naturalized allowing the learners to focus on what’s important.

“KELLYOLOGY” – It’s like going to grandma’s house. You don’t have to worry about how to get there, where you are going to sleep, and how to find the kitchen. Your focus and energy is on spending quality time with her and eating that delicious pumpkin (or your favorite) pie!

I agree with Paige’s assessment about consistency and trustworthiness. Our clients sell their training into larger organizations and it’s important for these orgs to have their branding present – often on the login interface of the LMS and throughout the course content.

But internal communication regarding training for employees is also integral. We run into situations where employees receive access to training but they have no idea what it is for. So I think having that branding present (albeit in a subtle way) is important for trust.

May 18th, 2021

Branding provides a consistent look and feel, and lets the learner know that this was produced for them, in house. Our team uses a consistent set of intro/exit slides, but the rest is up to the designer & customer.

This gives the design team a lot of flexibility. It also makes it clear when a course wasn’t put together by our team for our staff – particularly if that “unbranded course” is of a caliber different than what they’ve come to expect.

We have over 160 vendors working with us. Many offer training courses. Sometimes a vendor’s course will include details that are not part of our requirements.

I add our company logo to the beginning and end of internally created courses so that learners can tell where they came from. For any course, a learner might want to ask question about a topic’s veracity, and ask if it is correct, current, and/or if it applies to them. If the source of the course is known, the question can be more easily routed to the right person.

No – the user clearly knows where they work, and don’t need reminding. But on internal communications (learning being most definitely a form of internal communications), the employee must recognize that this comms is from the company and not some random piece of learning downloaded from the internet. You want companies to buy this product to make learning their own, but don’t allow learning to stand up for itself and let the employer brand be evident. All communication a company produced, either internal or external, must have the look, feel and consistency with the internal brand, whatever that is. It’s very important. As I say it makes the learning your own, and not something you just downloaded from the internet.

Also – specific learning, might need to align to some internal programme or initiative, and may need to be treated in a way that reflects the connection. Companies spend a lot of time on internal communication, and employee engagement, and for learning to not be aligned to that is disgraceful. In fact, I find this article pretty disgraceful that you even suggest that “branding”, is not important. Branding is not a logo.

You nailed it, Tom! I’ve always felt the same way – I just don’t see how branding enhances the learner’s experience. I appreciate your thoughts and humor!

We are in the process of transferring all of our content to a company approved PowerPoint deck. The good news is that way too many of our courses looked out of date and busy, so this exercise was a great reason to do some cleanup. But making sure we have the logo showing on every slide has forced us to make some of the screen shots smaller, which in turn makes it difficult to read without doing a zoom in.

So there are pros and cons, but loosing some creative freedoms can allow us to be more creative and focus our attentions on r aspects that add value.

Always enjoy reading your posts, and I am interested in hearing what other have to say.

Branding used to take up a lot of real estate in our programs. We faced the same issue with an PowerPoints that we were converting to online courses. We compromised with our Marketing team by using our brand colors and logo in the player and not on the course slides. We also worked with them to develop intro and outro videos that could be incorporated into videos publications if we chose to publish trainings as videos instead of courses. So far, it’s worked well for us.

Hey Tom, are you okay? Long time reader here and I am bit worried. Is someone holding you to gun point and forcing you to talk about %corporate topic% ?

Recently the postings have been bit of a %Excel reasoning%. While I used to return to this blog for practical advices and how to improve my craft, I feel like the direction currently is trying to explain things from some CEO’s point of view who’m you may or may not made angry by explaining what learning means.

May 19th, 2021

The Branding factor should not interfere with the learning factor. If it does it should be noted to branding that their branding is none functional for training purposes. So they would have to come up with branding that works in the training environment as well.

But in the context of creating an e-learning, the look and feel and recognizable factor helps the brain to simply put that interpretation factor aside and focus on anything new to interpret, good instruction design and logical interactivity keeps the brain on middle gas and can sustain focus for a longer time. If the look and feel is all over the place it drains energy, but it keeps the brains attention on high level for awhile up to point when the excesive energy drain puts your learner to sleep or they loose focus.

So i would say branding, look and feel is important – that it is done fit for purpose in training. If its done from any other perspective and then used in training its a potential problem. In such cases i would , i f possible, try to separate the brand, logo, from the scene of the e-learning. In rise have a header with image logo and a storyline placeholder with a none logo file.

When it comes to branding color schemes, that i think can be important from all kinds of perspectives. Use branding color schemes creatively.
Use iconography according to branding style helps with the recognizable factor

With regards to your powerpoint case, i have seen the same thing. It was a struggle.
But now we can zoom and that makes the amount of space you can use on the slide less important and the image quality of the content used more important. People need to learn more about what is quality content and how do they apply and present it in their slides?

Thanks for your insightful blog posts Tom – i always enjoy reading these blog posts and they make me think and rethink the e-learning world every time.
What was, but has changed or is starting to change?

May 19th, 2021

@Venom: that made me laugh 🙂

I think there’s still a lot of practical tips in the posts. I have been revisiting older posts from the blog and resurfacing some topics that I get a lot of questions about and that are kind of buried in the 15 years of content.

I agree with Sandy. We use the player for our smallish logo. The reason branding is important to our company is that we are very large with a lot of 3rd-party content in our LMS. Our internally-developed content only comprises 5-10% of our total, and given the highly-regulated nature of our business, it helps our associates to know the source of what they are learning. We do have overlaps. Our company is also a very mission-driven non-profit. Reminding people they are an integral part of an important mission helps drive associate satisfaction and retention.

As a voiceover, I only deal with the wording side of things and very rarely see visuals, so in terms of branding, I believe the ‘brand’ should be strongly conveyed in not just the actual wording, but the overall tone of what is said.