By: Johnathan Reynolds, CEO of Learned.Live, the UK’s first live and interactive e-learning platform.
There is no doubt about it, the world has changed since the beginning of 2020, and in particular the world of online learning. Yet the arrival of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns that followed dramatically changed the way consumers perceived brands. On an online learning platform, students look for authenticity, transparency and trust. The demand for social interaction, and legitimacy within the e-learning space means that forward thinking organisations like Learned.Live need to work harder to maintain their relationships with both teachers and students. CEO Johnathan Reynolds (pictured) from Learned.Live gives us the full run down on why branding is so vital in 2021 and beyond, how it has defined the business of online education and how you can implement the magic of a strong brand in your own industry.
Why branding matters
Perhaps we should talk a little about why branding matters. Years ago, a little like PR, branding was thought to be one of those elements of business which was the property of luxury names. Where branding might be a heavyweight part of business in sportswear, for example, the average SME probably didn’t really need to worry about it. Yet in today’s market, branding for your business means so much more than just how you look on and off the screen. At Learned.Live, the way our audience perceives us and thinks about us is vital.
From the comfort of their own homes, students can access the welcoming Learned.Live platform and be personally tutored by experts in real time on a wide range of subjects from scuba diving to creative writing.
Yet I knew that the Learned.Live needed to be so much more than just another e-learning experience. Family is everything to me in my own life, and having my partner and co-founder, Sophia, by my side both personally and professionally, meant that I wanted to bring that element of togetherness to Learned.Live and that has to be the stand out factor for our brand; togetherness, tribe, the personal experience. We know that people gravitate towards people. In fact, according to Learning News, one of the pitfalls for the online learning industry is the fact that some platforms don’t have peer to peer interaction available for their students. So, we set about changing that. In the world of online learning, building a strong persona so that teachers will come to teach their expertise on your platform is as essential as the time you are asking students to give up to join a live class. You want your teachers and students to believe in you. They have to trust that persona.
I have never been in doubt that the online learning world was set for massive growth, even before the pandemic. According to a research report by Global Market Insights, the eLearning market, just in size, is set to exceed 375 billion U.S dollars by 2026. This means that with the introduction of AI and mobile accessibility, anyone can be anywhere in the world and access a live, online class in any subject. The online education world has been revolutionary in that respect.
I had spent years making thousands of audiences worldwide smile, laugh, and gasp in amazement at the magic and bubbleology shows I developed myself, alongside the dozens of jugglers, dancers and entertainers who joined the performing artists’ agency I founded 20 years before I started Learned.Live. For me, I had become my own brand, so when we started the online learning platform, I knew exactly how the persona of the platform had to appear. I have always enjoyed working in the entertainment industry and knew that Learned.Live needed to be an extension of that.
As more and more people turn to online training to develop their future prospects, the world of virtual, live classes has opened up the playing field. Yet as business owners, we know that getting someone to interact with us on a level which is lucrative, can be an elusive goal. We had to have a strategy and for us that was simple; we are unique because of the people who have joined us to make Learned.Live work. Many of us are teachers on the platform ourselves because we all believe in it so much. We love what we do, and that needs to flow from everything we do. We are people supporting and helping people. We ourselves are the brand. The face of our vision.
We work on showcasing not only our incredible expertise in each subject we have brought to the table, but our backstories too. For any form of branding strategy you have to understand your own story in full before you can employ it.
Essential tips for branding
For an online business, key branding where your customer can identify you and your product clearly from the competition is essential to build trust, particularly from a standing start. Yet it doesn’t just stop with your logo and colour palette. It goes deeper than that. It has to be strongly representative of who you are as a business and what you stand for. It must embody your values and your purpose. It has to capture why you are doing what you’re doing.
At Learned.Live, there are eight key elements to ensuring that our brand is strong and authentic.
One of the ways I test anything new is to check it against our own branding guidelines which encapsulate our values and beliefs as well as our style and tone of voice, to make sure that it is something that will resonate with our audience and can be easily understood by them.
- Who is the market we are talking to?
- What is our key message?
- How do we want that audience to interpret it?
- How do we want them to feel about us? How do we want them to react to what’s being said?
- What are the key branding elements?
- What is being said?
- How are we already being perceived by our current audience?
- Remember your visual assets – logo copy and colours are not your complete brand. Your tone of voice, language are just as important.
- Consider your key brand messages and make them into quick, clear, memorable sentences.
- Select your strongest channels on which to promote your brand and engage with your audience. Let your brand evolve through your audience engagement.
- Research on topic trending news items which are complementary to your message
- Be clear on your mission and vision for the company and make it impactful and emotional.
- Keep all your communication positive and inspirational both internally and externally
- Measure your results carefully, tweak your message and monitor any changes in your responses through your copy and content.
Your brand will always come first before anything else you do. Your visual impact will be the first thing a new visitor will interact with, so it has to convey your key message. Create a strong brand based on values and beliefs and learn to live by them through everything your business does. This will help build trust with everyone who comes to you.
Find out what it is that drives you to do what you do. The stronger the brand, the smoother the connection you will find with your target audience. But remember to be fluid and move with the times. The world is forever changing and you need to stay with it. Grow with your tribe and your customers and stay one step ahead of the competition. Put consumer experience before your product and believe in what you do. That will help separate you and your business from the rest of the crowd and make your brand unique.