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How Branding Can Help Your Online Courses Succeed

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It's not often that online course creators give much thought to building a brand around their course...but it can be a game changer when it comes to marketing that course.

Our team recently dove head-first into a massive new project here at Fly Plugins HQ. We can’t share a lot of the details quite yet, but it’s a very exciting new platform that we’ll be building and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Although the project won’t be finished for some time, our team has already spent a lot of time working on it.

One of the things we’ve spent the most time on even before we started writing a single line of code?

Branding.

We spent dozens of hours on selecting a name that accurately described what we would be offering, reviewing logos from graphics designers which would best represent our product, securing domain names and social media accounts, and filing trademark paperwork.

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The process doesn’t need to be quite so thorough or difficult for an online course. For example, there’s probably no need to file trademarks for your course’s name when someone can enroll for it, complete it, and then simply create a pretty close clone of it with a separate title (believe it or not…we’ve seen it happen).

But...the act of choosing a brand for your course is important.

It’s important even if it just comes down to you choosing a domain name, choosing a title, or creating your own logo in a graphics design software such as Canva.

And it certainly doesn’t need to be complicated. Our good friend, Pat Flynn, recently launched a course called Power-Up Podcasting. Can you guess what he teaches in that course?

Probably so…

How to up your podcasting game if you’re running one or planning to and make it more successful and of higher quality.

Moreover, Pat chose a brand name for his course which incorporates alliteration (P and P) to make it memorable. This has always been one of my favorite branding tactics.

And after six years of helping over 20,000 entrepreneurs launch online courses to share their knowledge online, we’ve found the branding step to be one of the most often overlooked aspects of launch.

In this post, we’ll cover four of the major components to consider when choosing a course name and brand.

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The market for online education, whether entrepreneurial, professional, or otherwise, has reached an expected revenue value of $325 billion by the year 2025.

That’s a massive market.

And that likely means that you’re going to have competition no matter what you teach. Even if it’s how to make a living from home proofreading court transcripts for government agencies.

Yes, that is a thing…a seven-figure business.

The title of the course? Proofread Anywhere.

There are likely dozens of proofreading courses online. But Caitlin offers a firm statement that hers will offer to teach you a method for doing this job anywhere. Not at a newspaper office, not at a book publisher’s office…

Anywhere.

How is your course different? What are you offering that no one else in your niche is?

This could be as simple as adding very small adjectives to your course’s topical name…

The Easy Guide to…

The Most Exciting Adventurer’s Guide to Visiting…

How to Make Beautiful

A Technical Guide for…

We call this a unique selling proposition and it’s not just a statement, but it’s reflected in your brand. We’ve written a more detailed post on this process to help you think through it.

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What type of customer did you design your course for?

In marketing terms, this has come to be known as a customer avatar…an overall idea of your ideal target customer. I’m not particularly fond of this term as it tends to hint that we can generalize any person, but it’s likely your course has some aspects that would lead it to be best marketed to a specific group which should be reflected in the name and brand of your course…

How old are they?

Where do they spend time online that you might advertise your course?

Will they participate in your course during the day or after work?

Is your course for entrepreneurship or profession development?

These may sound like trivial questions, but how you brand a course teaching millennials to successfully complete job interviews and teaching successful executives who are at retirement age to secure board positions (although both professionally-related courses) probably need different branding tacks.

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Going back to the example of Pat’s course, you need the name of your course to be catchy and memorable.

There’s so much noise online these days, that we’re bombarded with hundreds of impressions every single day...whether they’re through email, social media, or otherwise. Your course branding should be catchy and memorable.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been interested in finding something online, whether a service or a product, and I couldn’t recall the name of it. I always use Mint as an example…the online budgeting/bookkeeping service. It’s a short brand name (easy to remember), it represents money (easy to remember), and when you’re first introduced to it you also think of a popular sensory experience (eating mint chewing gum or mint anything else) which means, should you forget the name of their company…

Well, you just won’t.

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How will the life of someone change if they purchase and complete your course?

This is perhaps the most important branding consideration on this list. Will your customers…

Make more money?

Save more money?

Work from home?

Feel happier?

Lose weight?

Read tarot cards?

Make hand-crafted tutus for ballet dancers?

(Yes, those last two are true examples from our users.)

When there is value, that value needs to be communicated and branding does that. Tell your customers where they will land when they finish your course. Build your brand around that promise. Use it to motivate them to succeed at what you’ve already succeeded in.

A great example of this is Weight Watchers and how they’ve adapted their programs traditionally managed in physical locations to online education programs. First of all, they likely could not have headed into offering online education with a better name! Who wouldn’t understand what a company called Weight Watchers helps them do?

But most importantly, they sell a promise. And that’s a promise of a better you. That’s what all online courses should focus on when it’s time to select a brand, domain, logo, attitude within course lesson presentations, or anything else.

About Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson is one of the co-founders of Fly Plugins, creators of the first and most widely-implemented learning management system for WordPress, WP Courseware. Since 2012, he has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, corporate training departments, and higher education institutions develop and deploy online training courses from their WordPress websites.

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