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Learning’s External Brand
Corporate universities can be considered a people service or organizational product, so their branding can be a differentiator in the marketplace and bring competitive advantage.
Since the 1980s, corporate universities and learning functions have grown steadily in number from about 400, with trendsetters such as GE’s Crotonville and Motorola University, to more than 4,000 worldwide, according to the Corporate University Exchange’s 2011 research report. Learning leaders continue to advance this educational function’s agenda for the sake of organizational performance and capability.The economic environment during the past few years has increased complexity and demands on organizations, employees and consequently the learning function. On one end of the spectrum, corporate learning functions have responded by becoming more proficient in educating employees. On the other hand, some organizations have focused educational efforts to add value to external stakeholders by training customers and suppliers on products and services. Whether a company defines internal or external education as a corporate university, learning and development or with some other brand, learning remains an important tool for companies to meet employees’ internal development needs and train business partners on products and services to compete in relative markets and stimulate business growth through partnerships. Corporate universities can be considered a type of people service or organizational product, and as such their branding can be a differentiator in the marketplace and bring competitive advantage. What’s in a Brand?
As defined by the American Marketing Association, “A brand is a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan and design scheme. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use and through the influence of advertising, design and media commentary.” Kevin Lane Keller and Donald R. Lehmann, in their 2009 article “Assessing Long-term Brand Potential” in the Journal of Brand Management, state the principles of branding can be associated with almost any type of product or service, including physical goods, retail stores, services, people, organizations and places.
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