Learning and Development Brands

3 Ways Top Learning, Development and Education Brands Stand Out Using These Brand Strategy Principles

Market leading learning and development brands haven’t attained their status by happy accident. Nor, although it can sometimes seem like it, are they simply the beneficiaries of merely a long history and reputation. 

In the current highly competitive marketplace, learning and development brands that thrive do so because they have developed a well-thought-out brand strategy with an architecture that’s been effectively activated. That consistent deployment is what in reality influences the way in which the brand is communicated and how its received by its primary target customers, as well as informing the strategic business choices it aligns with.

Here we’re digging into three key brand strategy principles that strong learning and development brands successfully employ. Each one of these three brand strategy principles can be used by educational brands, no matter how big or small, from universities and colleges to niche private sector specialists. They work across markets and geographies.

Related: How Branding Strategy is Different to Marketing

1. Successful Learning and Development Brands All Have a Strong Brand Mission

Within the trinity of a brand’s brand purpose, brand vision and brand mission, brand mission forms the “how”. It’s a way of translating an often lofty brand vision into a more actionable, practical way of thinking which directly impacts many of the choices a brand faces from day to day.

That has clear application when it comes to learning and development brands. Education, like health, is central to delivering on a wide range of things that matter to people. This is why so many educational brands have some connection to organisations with a clear sense of purpose, from religious orders and educational charities to research organisations and education ministries. 

Having a compelling brand vision around learning and development can be relatively easy. However, when it comes to differentiation and articulating a brand purpose and brand mission, a learning and development brand needs to make clear, specific choices in defining and implementing the right brand purpose and mission for their organisation.

Related: Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose Are Inextricably Linked

The right brand mission enables learning and development brands to differentiate themselves in an often crowded marketplace. When elements such as curriculum, qualifications, and teaching methods can typically be similar across different providers, brand mission is a way for a brand to help target customers understand why they should choose it over other brands in the same field.

Learning and Development Brands

Image via © Kaplan

A case study is educational provider Kaplan. Its brand mission of helping individuals achieve their educational and career goals to build futures, one success story at a time, is straightforward but powerful and ambitious. Moving beyond just education to the idea of achieving career goals to build one’s own future can help differentiate Kaplan from companies that focus purely on attaining educational goals without contextualising that in higher order, longer lasting personal benefits.

Related: How Your Brand Mission Enables You To Achieve Your Commercial Objectives

Learning and Development Brands

Image via © Bloom Mindset Junior Academy

Another case study in the SME sector is Bloom Mindset Junior Academy, a kindergarten and education centre in Hong Kong. In a fiercely competitive market where competitors mostly focus purely on educational test attainment from the earliest age, Bloom emphasises the role of a growth mindset in improving children’s educational outcomes and personal development. This compelling brand mission informs everything from its brand communication to curriculum development.

Brand Strategy“Lorraine Carter has been the catalyst and an inspiration for MGI Learning to clearly define our brand.

Working with Lorraine has been both enlightening and enjoyable. Her blueprint for defining a brand is extremely comprehensive and challenged us to think very deeply about what we offer to our customers and really understand what underpins our success.

Lorraine is extremely knowledgeable, very focused and supportive and leads you through the process and ensured we got maximum benefits from the investment we made.”

Shona Cooper


MGI Learning

Shona Cooper

Brand Strategy Leadership Programme

We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to build a brand strategy that really engages your ideal customers effectively, particularly in uncertainty, so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you build your brand, depending on your preferences, so if you’d like us to:

  1. Build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Enable you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Strategy Leadership Programme here. This is a live, interactive experiential programme online where you work on your brand with us, codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our online half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials. Ask about our Personal and Corporate Leadership Brand Alignment Masterclass
  3. Want a DIY solution? Check out our how to build a brand eprogramme here and our how to audit your brand yourself eprogramme here

2. Brand Values Drive Enduring Learning and Development Brands

Brand values are the things that a brand stands for. One criticism some people have of branding is that they feel it can seem fluffy and nebulous, with brands promoting values which sound like they were dreamed up in a vacuum. In this regard, again, education brands have a massive advantage. Not only are brand values explicitly articulated in many learning and development brands, but they are an integral part of the customer experience.

learning and development brands

Image via © Winchester College & Makyth Ventures

In fact, many schools, colleges and learning institutions have been using a form of brand values for decades if not centuries. They may be expressed differently, as a school motto for example, but their purpose is that of brand values. 

learning and development brands

Image via © Winchester College

Whether it’s Winchester school’s “Manners makyth man”, University College Dublin’s “To the Stars; Justice and equality” or legal education provider Gray’s Inn’s “Impartial justice, guardian of equity, mistress of the law, without fear or favour rules men’s causes aright”, many learning and development institutions already have a clear sense of at least some of their brand values. Successful ones often build on this strong foundation to articulate an actual set of brand values which enable their brand communications and activation.

One advantage a learning and development brand has in bringing its brand values to life is the nature of its interaction with its target audience or customer base. Often this is intensive in terms of hours per week, and can have a duration stretching into years or even decades through its alumni. So a brand can bring its values to life with a breadth and depth many brands in other areas are struggle to achieve. For an organisation with attractive brand values, this is a compelling way to turn customers into brand ambassadors and far-reaching alumni.

Related: How to Use Brand Values to Drive Unwavering Customer Trust and Commitment

Many people who work in education, learning and development are driven by a clear purpose of their own in helping others reach their full potential. An effective learning and development brand typically has brand values that are not just attractive from the perspective of students and decision makers (such as parents) but also in the context of the employer brand.

This is illustrated by the English public (private) school Harrow. It has opened several satellite schools in Asia and also a virtual sixth form working with a partner in Africa. While some elements of the Harrow brand name, reputation and offering are attractive, equally no two locations are the same and the needs and context of learning may vary. 

By focussing on consistent brand values, the school is able to deliver a cohesive brand experience in key regards, while allowing for some local adaptation in delivery. Collectively, these brand values help deliver on the clear, powerful brand vision of “Harrow: Leadership for a Better World”.

Related: Social Responsibility: How to Build a Socially Conscious Brand

brand strategy“For anyone who has a well established business I would totally recommend working with Persona Design because it will provide them with a new perspective on how to think of their brand. You see in different markets and industries that are overly competitive what makes the difference is knowing what exactly your business is all about and why people would choose you instead of any other competitor.

What makes you different from all the other service or product providers in the market because that’s what’s going to make your business be the No.1 choice in the range of those specific products or services that you’re providing. Also that’s what’s going to make your brand stand out and have a long lasting life and thrive in the context of where you’re operating and delivering value. So totally go for it!

This framework provides you with a lot of insight and more than that, with a systematic process that’s easy for you to understand, easy for you to grasp, easy for you to work with so you finally nail what makes you different in your business, and what you are about and what those key points are that resonate with your audience.”

Camelia Păduraru


Crafting Minds

Camelia Păduraru

Are you a business leader, manager or entrepreneur who wants to re-evaluate or build your brand strategy, so you can optimise your learning and development brand to the changing market to increase your sales and matriculation? Are you curious about how to build or scale a highly successful standout brand? Join one of our branding masterclasses because they empower you to build your brand, enhance customer experience, expand your market impact and create higher perceived value, so you can command a premium and achieve higher revenue. 

In fact, the Persona Brand Strategy Leadership Programme is all about fast-tracking you, your brand and your business through the brand building, brand strategy process using professional big-brand know-how with proven systems that get results, so you can differentiate, increase your market credibility and grow your business faster and more effectively. 

The systems in the programme enable you to make your brand highly differentiated relative to your competitors, visible, credible, trustworthy, memorable and much loved amongst your ideal customers, so you can become more profitable and leave your competitors way behind. Be The One — your ideal customers’ favourite brand of preferred choice, commanding a premium.

If you want a tailor-made solution specifically for your brand, then we also provide in house bespoke Persona Brand Strategy Leadership Intensives™. Working specifically on your brand and organisational needs,  the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ framework is used working collaboratively with you and your team, so you can grow your business faster and more profitably. 

Contact us to discover more [email protected] or +353 1 8322724

3. Tone of Voice is Critical for Learning and Development Brands

An important element of brand strategy is tone of voice. Like it sounds, this is the way in which a brand’s message is communicated, that influences how it differentiates, stands out and the way that people think and feel about the brand.

While that matters for all brands, it can be particularly important for learning and development brands. Authoritative, consistent, knowledgeable, altruistic, empathic communication is at the heart of most education. Not only does that come through in the pedagogy of the institution, it is also significant in that it is reflected in the brand tone of voice.

learning and development brands

Image via © Pluralsight

A case study is Pluralsight, a B2B provider of online training courses for tech workers. Its tone of voice is authoritative, simple and professional. It emphasises the role of “building” in its language – building individual skills to build teams, and in turn build tech workforces which make businesses more successful.

learning and development brands

Image via © Pluralsight

Related: How to Develop Your Brand Tone of Voice to Increase Sales

brand strategy“We participated in the Persona Brand Strategy Leadership Mastermind Programme online. The 12-week program suited us, as the weekly accountability spurred us on to get work done between sessions.

We found the flow of the course appropriate for the development of the brand through the various areas of the business. Already, we have developed our Customers Personas and our Brand Persona adding value to the business.

The course has helped us make more astute decisions in the business, such as restructuring our product offerings, so we grow more profitable lines and remove those with lower margins.

Lorraine is very helpful and accessible as a tutor, with follow up after each live working session and the half-day masterclass. Most of all, the clarity achieved has been most invaluable.

In the first two weeks of March 2020, before Covid-19 required us to close, we were 300% up in our online sales compared to the whole of March 2019. By the end of May 2020 [after being completely closed for 6 weeks with our 150 staff furloughed] we were back to 69% and by end of June 2020 back at 108%, January 2021 we were up four-fold on January 2019 

— results achieved from applying our brand strategy.”

Sinead Heffernan

Managing Director

Thunders Bakery

Sinead Heffernan

If you’d like to discover more about building and maintaining a thriving, high performing, highly profitable standout brand, then get in touch because we’d love to help you make your brand into a bigger profit powerhouse.

  1. Schedule a chat — we can meet in person online
  2. Let’s consider a customised plan for you
  3. And perhaps implement the plan together  
  4. Contact us [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)

Lorraine Carter is a brand strategy expert and international speaker delivering talks that inspire and motivate along with masterclasses and workshops online and offline that inform and support transformational outcomes fast, and consultancy expertise that solves business problems — using measurable brand strategy underpinned by professional big-brand know-how — so you can outshine, outperform and leave your competitors way behind. 

She enables you to differentiate, achieve higher revenue, expand your market share, build IP brand asset value — make the complex easy as ABC, so you can Transform Your Brand & Increase Your Sales — Be The One, the brand that’s most credible, trusted and commanding a premium, so you’re highly profitable and leaving your competitors way behind.

Ask about the Persona Brand Strategy Leadership Programme™ — consultative facilitation, live, interactively, face-to-face online.

Applying These 3 Principles to Your Learning and Development Brand

These principles may sound fairly straightforward, however, developing and applying them thoroughly, so they achieve clear and compelling differentiation, makes a huge difference to the appeal of your own learning and development brand. 

Rather than considering them in isolation, it makes more sense to reevaluate how they fit within your overall brand architecture and brand strategy. That way, once you are clear about what your brand mission is and what you want your institution or business to stand for in the world, you can ensure that all of your brand communication and activity helps to reinforce that, from prospectuses and programme content, to websites and open days and new student matriculation or customer enrolment processes.

Final Thought

No matter what size, stage or location your learning and development brand fills, it can benefit from applying some simple but powerful brand strategy principles. 

Fortunately, many learning and development brands already have some of the thinking in relation to these principles in their daily work, even if they haven’t actually fully realised it yet. That starts with a strong brand mission, around which your people, learners and other stakeholders can unite.

Your brand can be brought to life through your brand values, which are lived in the learning experience, as well as through what you stand for, and how you communicate. Tone of voice is critical in learning and development — and that is true for your brand too.

“I really appreciate Lorraine’s energy and passion. Although good branding includes so many facets, Lorraine is able to simplify the process and make it so much more tangible for any company to put into practice.”

Lisa Kettman-Kervinen

Marketing Communication Specialist

The Switch 

Lisa Kettman-Kervinen

Questions to Consider

  1. What makes students and customers entrust their educational needs to your brand?
  2. What is your brand mission and how compelling is it to your primary target audience? Do they even care?
  3. How do your brand values reflect the reality of your delivery of learning and development?
  4. Does your brand tone of voice help make your brand attractive to your target audience, consistent with your brand mission, brand purpose and brand values?
  5. Do your people and student community feel motivated by your brand in the same way payers such as parents or decision makers do?
  6. Would it help to expand your strategic thinking in the context of your brand strategy and its deployment through using a brand audit, so you can differentiate with a more compelling value proposition?

Your Persona Client Satisfaction Guarantee

  1. When you work with us, we’ll create a customised brand building plan and strategy with clear investment for you tailored to your specific requirements and preferences
  2. You’ll know each step of your brand building journey before we start because we’ll discuss it, document it and agree on it with you before work commences
  3. You’ll have timelines, key milestones and deliverables to evaluate and approve for each stage and part of your brand building process
  4. Because we know the unexpected sometimes happens we can make adjustments along the way if you need it and if something extra is requested we’ll ensure you’re fully appraised about what that entails before committing
  5. As we achieve pre-agreed objectives you’ll be able to evaluate your brand building work and strategy in progress, coupled with the outcomes to ensure return on investment

Get in touch today because we’d love to enable you to re-evaluate and build your standout, powerhouse brand, so you can Be The One — increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind. 

Email us [email protected] or ring us +35318322724 (GMT 9:00-17:30) and ask about our VIP Brand Strategy Re-Evaluation.

“An exceptionally talented individual. Lorraine Carter, Persona Branding and Design has a wonderful ability to ‘horizon scan’ for any business and then bring them on a journey that delivers value to their Balance Sheet.”

Dave Feenan


Technology Ireland & ICT Skillnet

Dave Feenan
Brand Strategy Leadership Programme

Discover more about the Persona Brand Strategy Leadership framework here