Building an L&D (HRD) brand

A couple of weeks ago I attended module 2 of the HRD Level 5 course.  Some of this was about branding from an external branding point of view.  This all got me thinking about the journey we'd had with our own internal L&D brand.

We set the department up just a couple of years ago now.  Before this, there was no department dedicated to Learning and Development or HRD.  Setting up an L&D function was a key piece in the overall strategy of the organisation.  We agreed that it was important that we had a strong presence from the offset.  Our name was already decided with our Chairman and President very keen on the term "Academy".  And so we became Genting Academy. 

But a name on it's own wasn't good enough.  We needed a strong brand.  Something people could associate with.  A department that people could trust.  Something that stated very clear who we are, what do we do and who we were there for.

And that's where our branding journey began.  It was exactly the same approach you would take if you were designing an external brand for a new business.  We began brainstorming all the typical questions you'd expect - what do we do, who are we, how do we wish to be known, who are we there for, what is our aim etc.  A logo, derived from the main corporate brand identity was agreed.  Our strapline for the brand decided; three bold words which reflect who we are and what we do.  A single point of contact for everyone to reach us, one central telephone number, one central email, and one online help form using our eLearning and online site.

Thinking about where we are today, our department has made great progress.  I would suggest that we're one of the most well known support departments that exist within the business.  We're a trusted, reliable partner.  We're known for the quality of the work we do as well as the success our work leads to. 

Now, I've no doubt that this comes from the quality of individuals that make up our team.  But I'm almost certain that some of this comes from the very strong internal brand that we created for our department and the time we spent a couple of years ago in doing the thinking behind that brand.

With a similar experience of creating an internal L&D (HRD) brand in another organisation, I've concluded that it's a worthwhile activity to do.  Whether you're setting up a department from scratch or you think it's time to re-focus your department on the perceptions of your department, it's a useful and fun process to go through.

What do you think?  Does your department have a strong presence in your business?  Have you thought about how people perceive your department?  Do you have a name or a strapline that allows people in your organisation to instantly connect with your department?

I'd be interested to hear your views on how this works, or could work, in your organisation.  Please feel free to comment below...

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Ady Howes - Community Manager, DPG

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  • It's a very interesting topic and we've had a number of good things added to the community about personal branding. Personally I feel there is no point in even thinking about branding (or re-branding) a department is those who work in the department don't reflect and bring the brand to life.

    Check out these articles on branding

    I think a critical piece here is about self awareness and understanding how others perceive what we do and how we do it.

    Whilst slightly off topic here is another post on personal branding - still things we can take from this internally as well as if you're looking for a job....

    And finally don't know whether you saw this but on the subject of branding and making impact I love this


  • Hi Rachel.  Thanks for your reply and pleased you found this article useful.  I'm a HUGE fan of the personal branding approach that you mention.  My love for this first came from some "career development" training I did a while back for a company that was unfortunately going through redudancies.  We did three modules.  Module 2 focussed on CV writing, whilst Module 3 focussed on Interview Skills.

    However, what seemed even more important than these two was Module 1, all about personal branding.  Again similar sorts of questions that we've mentioned but also included the Marketing Mix applied to individuals (PPPP Product, Place, Price and Promotion).  Product = who are you, what do you do, what skills/experience/qualifications do you have.  Place - Where are you prepared to work/travel to, types of environments.  Price - What's your salary and benefits expectations.  Promotion - How are you going to promote yourself, look for opportunities etc.

    The feedback from the groups was that this particular module was a great scene setter for the rest and actually one that people got the most benefit from.

    I can see how your managers would find the personal branding useful with how important reputation must be for your managers.

    I've a whole load of ideas around how you re-launch your re-focussed department.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.



  • Enjoyed reading about the success you've had creating your department and in particular it's brand.  This is something I feel we need to concentrate on more within my company.  We have been going through quite a few structural changes recently and feel this would be a good time to refocus and re-launch! 

    What I found interesting about your article is with our Management Programme we ask Managers to consider their own self brand by asking them to consider a lot of the same questions you've mentioned above but for themselves as people/staff/managers - i.e. what do I do, who am I, what do I wish to be known for, what is my aim, what sets me apart from.....and all to achieve the same results as you've mentioned - trust, reliability, quality and ultimately success :-)

  • What a great opportunity to start from scratch with no baggage or history to overcome. More often than not, we have to re-brand internal departments, which suggests something has gone wrong and you inevitably spend much of your energy on trying to overcome the negative instead of just focusing on the new improved brand/behaviour.

  • Agreed Mike.  Hugely important. 

    Interestingly, the other day I was talking to our Head of the Department about this very same thing. 

    At the start of any training we do with staff at any level, we of course introduce who we are and where we are from.  Now, if we say something along the lines of "I'm part of the L&D team" people tend to look at us blankly and say "Who?".  When we then go on to say, "You know, the Genting Academy", they immediately know what we're talking about.


  • I'm a big advocate for L&D learning from marketing. We need to be better at marketing our services and helping people understand what we do and why. Start with why.....people buy what you believe (Simon Sinek) but in this day and age we've also got to make it look good, accessible and answer the WIIFM question.

    Branding is hugely important and it sounds like you've created a successful brand and identity for your team. I always like to think in terms of customer feedback and if your internal customers were asked about the L&D team and what they do or what they know - what do you think they would say...

    Would it be - great people, always approachable, visible, creative, performance focused, innovative, quick to respond...

    Or would it be

    Who are they?

    Food for thought :-)

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