“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
– Steve Jobs
You’re an expert in your field; you’ve created an incredible digital course; you have so much to offer and yet… it simply doesn’t look that way.
They say the first bite is with the eye and that’s not just true of food: you can have the best content in the world, but if you haven’t considered your design and, more importantly, your branding, then you simple won’t be in demand.
Having a digital course as part of your offering is a great way to build your brand and expand your audience. It sets you up as an expert in your field, attracts a wider customer base and is one of the best passive income streams for any sector.
If you can hone in on an area about which you are both passionate and knowledgeable, you can create content that will appeal to your core clientele, and is guaranteed to get you repeat business.
I’ve said before that, even if your subject has already been covered in other people’s digital courses, it’s still worth doing because the way you present it will be unique to you. You see the student experience is as much a part of your course as is the takeaway, and a big part of that experience is you.
Additionally, your course needs to be engaging, fun and well structured, with clear objectives and valuable information.
Because you are the expert, the course should be an extension of your brand: people are buying you and your expertise, so let them know that they’re getting excellent value for money. The best way to do this for this in order to secure new customers is to make sure the course looks every bit as professional as the rest of your business. If the branding on your course looks cheap or hurried, people will think you don’t care, and if you don’t care why should they?
So what do I mean by ‘branding’?
I talk a lot about branding as it’s a subject that’s very close to my heart. Having worked as a designer for over 20 years, I’ve often been asked to help with people’s branding and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve spoken to prospective clients only to realise that ‘branding’ to them is just a new logo.
That’s important, don’t get me wrong, but branding can’t be summarised in one graphic; it should go right across your business. Imagine you were to buy a motorbike and you got yourself a beautiful new helmet to go with it: that’s all very well and it’s the first thing people think of when they think of bikes, but you can’t just hop on and assume that a helmet is all you need. You need riding leathers, boots, gloves and a licence that says you can ride for a start! There’s so much more to riding than the helmet that everyone sees, and there’s so much more to branding than the logo that everyone sees!
Your brand needs to be consistent throughout everything you do: that means graphics, colours, fonts, tone of voice (the way you ‘speak’ in written conversation and on social media) and so much more.
It’s a lengthy but very worthwhile process and needs to extend to your digital course. To help you get started, I’ve put together 10 top tips to help you nail the branding on your digital course:
Understand what you are trying to achieve and the goal of your digital course. For example: is this course a ‘freebie’, a stand-alone product, or is being used to drive leads to a bigger product. Having an idea of how your digital course is going to be used will help you to achieve clarity arounds its goals.
Define your ideal student – where are you best placed to advertise to them, how do they speak, what will make them invest in you?
Decide on your colour scheme – will you use your primary brand palette or will you extend your colours and create a palette that complements your primary palette? It’s important to stick with your primary colour as this represents your brand, but you could always build a secondary palette that feeds into the digital side of your business. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are staying consistent.
Create a course logo – identities are not just for companies, they are for products as well, and a digital course is a product that needs its own identity. For example, my overall branding is Pink Lemon, but I could choose to brand individual courses as ‘green lemon’, ‘blue lemon’ etc to denote different aspects of my offering; or I could create a new logo that incorporates the Pink Lemon, but still allows me to go in a completely different direction.
Choose your fonts – fonts can say a lot about your brand so choose wisely: is your business feminine and relaxed (and might therefore suit an italic, scripted font)? Or is it dependable and conservative (a heavy, bold font perhaps)?
Pick your images – every image tells a story! The images you use within your course must complement what you are sharing with your student. Images play an important role in supporting the written word. The style of the image and the way it is laid out will convey a meaning, and so it’s important to align the meaning with the content of the course – you shouldn’t just search stock images for ‘business’ photos for example. Try, where possible, to use original photos or graphics that are tailored to your business ideals.
Creating videos – make sure the videos within the course are consistent in terms of filming style and location, and that any title slides and graphics within the videos look as though they are part of your suite of design. Think about creating thumbnails at the start of the video that tell your students what the video is about so that it looks clear and polished.
Create a Brand Style Guide for consistency. By this I mean you should have all the details of your brand written down in one place. Think of it this way: if you won your dream holiday and had to leave the country tomorrow, would you be able to leave the running of the business to someone else? Think of everything they would need to know from your colour palette to the way you use language and make a note of it. This will help you avoid inconsistencies within your brand.
Digital course assets – make sure that all your design assets (header, hero banner, product image, thumbnails, checkout image, log-in graphic) within your digital course are consistent. Ensure the design you choose runs throughout all of the design elements so your course looks neat, professional and instantly recognisable.
Brand your course like you would your business! Even if it’s 5 minute free taster session it deserves the same care and attention as the rest of your business. You wouldn’t wear your best suit to one meeting and then send your assistant to the next meeting in a onesie (I hope!) so don’t let your digital course make you look bad!
Branding isn’t just for businesses; it’s for products as well. Your digital course will be competing against others within the marketplace so you need to ensure that it looks and feels like your brand.
Think about how you want your students to feel when they see your brand, and then consider how that extends through to your course. The ultimate goal is to get your students to the end of the course having experienced a transformation. Make it as accessible and welcoming as possible so that they leave raving about your course and telling others about it.
Above all, make sure that your branding is so eye-catching, distinctive and evocative that one glimpse of it is all it takes to make people desperate to know more!