“A strong, consistent brand, built up over time, is the best guarantee of future earnings.”*
Steve Forbes once said that your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business. So what does that really mean and why do so many RTOs get it wrong?
Essentially, your RTO’s brand is what identifies your RTO, and differentiates your RTO in the marketplace. It isn’t just the logo, the symbol, the slogan or design, although these things are very important. We all know what it’s like to come across a dated website, with sloppy or juvenile design work. It certainly doesn’t instill confidence in the experience we’re going to get with the organisation.
But branding is so much more. It’s the cohesive experience your customers have with your RTO. It’s the promise to your customers, it’s the values your RTO lives by, it’s the personality you instill in your organisation—the shared beliefs, the passion, the internal and external clarity—and most importantly, it’s consistency. Your brand and your brand promise can be destroyed by inconsistent experiences with your brand and organisation.
This consistency extends to the experience customers have with your brand, e.g. they should have similar, fantastic experiences with your sales staff, your administration staff, and your trainers and assessors, from start to finish. They need to speak the same language, with consistent, clear messages, consistent behaviour, communication and performance.
“A single inconsistent experience will destroy everything you’ve tried to create with your brand.”
It immediately becomes in-congruent, and creates confusion and mistrust in your brand, which of course, is your RTO and importantly, the people in it.
Likewise, consistency should extend to the look and feel of your brand across all your collateral, including your website, marketing materials, enrollment material, email signatures, certificates, student handbooks, and importantly, the resources your students experience the most—your learner guides, assessments, e-learning platforms etc. Every document, both internal and external, should reflect your brand and inspire emotion. This consistency creates a perception of quality, reliability and stability.
Consistent branding leads to strong brand equity, which means that your customers become emotionally invested in your brand. They recognise it, they trust it and they’ll choose your RTO above others, simply because it’s trusted and recognised. It is consistent. This is why people choose Coca Cola over other generic cola drinks, why people pay a premium for Apple products, over other less known or trusted brands. There’s an intrinsic perception of value that’s added to your product or services. This is a market leading position!
Importantly, brands are created from the top down. Leaders (and the team) need to act as brand advocates and devotees, and ensure consistency in ‘walking the talk’. Consistency extends to your behaviour, and the behaviour of your leaders and staff—because if you don’t get it right, you can’t expect your staff to.
Get your brand right, and your RTO will flourish.
Maciek Fibrich is Director and Principal Consultant of RTO Consultancy Group providing an end-to-end solution for organisations wishing to establish or build a successful, prosperous and reputable RTO.