Should you brand your online course? three scenarios to consider before making your decision

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Apr 19, 2020


When you start building your online course, you’re going to get some conflicting thoughts about whether or not you should get branding done for your online program.

So I thought I’d debunk some thoughts, and give you some pros and cons.

Now obviously there are a variety of scenarios, and this is a top line overview… your case may be different, but this is a starting place.

1. Let’s start with those who are new to business completely!

The general rule is that I wouldn’t go big on your business branding at this stage.

You first have to test out clients, offers, and how you differentiate yourself… only once these elements of your brand foundation are in place, does it really make sense to invest in a more comprehensive brand.

A large percentage of entrepreneurs shift their business in the first 6 months when they realize what they thought they wanted to do, is not what they actually wanted… so they rebrand twice during that time.

But you do need to have some form of branding. A brander like myself may have some affordable entry offers to get you kicked off in the right direction.

However, my assumption is that you aren’t starting a fresh business & offering a course upfront… because social proof will be your hardest hurdle to overcome [people want to know that they are buying results – having proof of those results go a long way].

But if you are launching a new business + it’s all about offering online courses – a tip: to get some social proof, offer “beta” – it will help you get test cases (a warning – choose your beta people wisely).

Now… next level:

2. You’ve been in business, but new to creating a course & have been advised “you don’t need branding, launch beta first.”

What are the pros?

Well, obviously you have less costs, you test out a course, get money in (hopefully- if you were able to make it look decent enough), and then down the line you may have a little in the pocket to actually brand this baby.

The cons?

You know all this time you put into creating a course? Well, when you redo the branding, you have to redo the course material, the decks, the PDFs, the social promo’s, the opt-ins. Yes, when you refresh your brand – you’ll also have to redo it all, but hopefully that’s more a 2-5year thing, not every couple of months. Either this will suck copious amounts of your hours (that you could be charging for), or you’ll be paying someone else to shift the branding for you.

The other con is the cost of mediocre branding. I’ve had clients shift their branding of their offer, and suddenly see huge growth on sales… yes, mediocre branding can cost you sales – because clients that would normally have bought, started questioning your authority – based on what they “see” in front of them.

3. You’ve been in business for a while, and realize you need to invest in a branded course

What are the pros?

If created by someone who knows what they are doing, you’ll have something that looks more polished, and is ready to attract the kinds of clients who are ready to pay you.

A consistent brand also boosts trust. When your pro tackles it, your client will feel more confident that you deliver what they expect the whole way through (you’d be amazed at how this impacts refunds).

Depending on your pro, they could even help you structure the content in a way that helps adults learn (ok wait, that’s probably more just something I do – as training was part of my past life)… hopefully your pro will at least just make it visually easy to consume.

You have someone take the laborious pain of turning your knowledge – into something the client wants to consume.

What are the cons?

Obviously, it’s an investment! There is the financial investment, but depending on who you work with – they may have different ways to “skin the cat” 😿 and meet you in a way that works with the budget.

It will also be a time investment. Your brander will need to tap into your brain to figure out how to bring your uniqueness through into your brand (and last time I checked – no brand strategist was a mind reader 😂)… so for something with more substance, you’ll need to be involved.

So do you need to go about rebranding the course only? Or a whole business rebrand?

Again, it depends…

you could totally just brand your course, and at least just make sure that THAT puppy puts its best foot forward… fixing the main brand down the line, when more moola comes in!

But if you go too crazy with this (branding each course, book, workshop differently), and then you end up like many of my clients – who come to me unsure how to pull the smorgasbord of offerings together into one cohesive package! Which is totally doable, but takes a lot more work than needed.

My goodness, if you found your way down here, then I hope that this has helped answer some of the key branding questions you may have for your course? If not, feel free to drop me a note.

About the Author

Emma is the Chief Coffee Drinker here at FreshSage. With over a decade in branding + another decade in corporate business - she's always balancing the creative with business strategy + goals. She believes everyone has a purpose + calling, and secretly loves helping her clients find theirs. When she's not building brand experiences, she's spending time with her High-school sweetheart + kidlet, tinkering in her veg garden, painting an abstract, and enjoying vino with friends.

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