Enhancing Brand Validity in Curriculum Development

This article was co-authored by Joseph Mazzola and Sy Islam, Ph.D.

In a previous article, we discussed the value of planning training initiatives based on the key competencies your organization has identified as critical for success. Whether it’s an individual or a team undergoing a new training initiative, the goal is for them to improve a skill gap or knowledge area, and to walk away with assets to help them perform in a manner that helps the organization reach its overarching strategic objectives. While the focus of the learning should be content valid, another concept that emerged was that of achieving brand validity when designing the training.

Content validity refers to the accuracy of material being covered within the program as it relates to the desired goals for the training. To achieve the desired outcomes, the material must be properly aligned to reflect what the trainees must learn. For instance, if a company aims to enhance an individual’s project management skills, an engagement must cover concepts that improve their abilities to properly organize and track projects through phases, communicate with stakeholders, and identify risks, to name a few. It often falls to L&D leaders to review the content within the curriculum to match what is focused on with the work outputs employees will be expected to perform.

Although content validity is essential in developmental opportunities, in many cases it is equally important for the organization to consider whether their training programs are brand valid as well. Brand validity refers to whether the way the material is taught reflects the values of the organization. Unlike content validity, the aim here is to have an all-encompassing motive guiding the training as it relates to the vision that strategic leaders within an organization aspire to embody.

Take, for example, a customer service training for a Toyota car dealership. The training will address the enhancement of sales and service skills for the dealership’s employees, but will it reflect the values and brand Toyota markets itself as? A focus on cost, leadership, and providing the best possible experience to prospective car buyers is key. In contrast, though, the same training content must be delivered somewhat differently if the training is to be provided to a Rolls Royce dealership. Rolls Royce is a luxury brand, and while the customer service content may be similar, the program may need further refinement to address how employees may be expected to perform and interact with a client base of higher socioeconomic status.

Training curriculums can be developed either internally or externally. When Learning and Development specialists decide to partner with a training vendor, they must be keenly aware of the brand their organization seeks to embody. Both the consumer brand and the employer brand have an effect on the approach that organizations take to training, and if your employer has chosen to outsource the engagement, it’s vital that the training is aligned.

This goes beyond merely using the appropriate logo on the cover page. Training should be consistent with the experience that your organization is selling to customers. Here are some general tips to improve the brand validity of your training:

  1. Identify the employer brand – How does your organization envision itself as an employer? If available, you may wish to look no further than the mission statement. What type of culture/experience does your organization promise its employees? These promises should be reflected in the type of training designed.
  2. Identify the consumer brand – Meet with your marketing team to identify the consumer brand of your organization. Make sure to design your training such that it reflects the ideas in your organization’s brand and reminds your employees of what your organization does and what it hopes to accomplish in the marketplace.
  3. Edit content accordingly – Once you have identified your organization’s brand positioning, you may edit the training content to reflect that positioning, or communicate these values to your training parter.