Have you ever had to rebrand an eLearning course? How did it go? One of the first projects I ever completed as a freelancer was to help with rebranding for a medical company’s courses about medical equipment. The organization had changed their branding but had a series of courses that were built in Adobe Flash. They needed the courses converted into Articulate Storyline with new branding. It was a large project and one that was significantly more than just a rebrand. Everything had to be built from scratch. In this post we’re going to walk through some tips and tricks to help you when rebranding an eLearning course.
But what if your company is just changing logos or a colour scheme? What if you already have 100+ courses that used the old branding? Are your Storyline files ready for this? Just about every single company I’ve ever worked for went through a rebranding at some point in time. In fact, one company I worked for rebranded three times in less than 10 years! This meant that all of those eLearning courses, instructor-led materials, even the learning management system (LMS) needed to be updated.
How can you make this whole process easier? What can you do if you’re just starting out with your courses? How do you approach it if you didn’t prepare in advance? These are just a few questions I’ll answer in this post all about rebranding.
Preparing for the rebrand before you need to rebrand
Let’s start with the end in mind. Let’s say you’re just starting out and haven’t built a course or template yet. You’re in the ideal place to start thinking about a rebranding exercise! Why? Because you can lay the groundwork now to make your life easier when the inevitable happens. “But” you might say “we just did a rebrand and I don’t think we’ll need one again during the life of these courses!” Guess what? Even courses that don’t need a rebrand because the company’s logos change may need to be refreshed in a year or two. This whole exercise makes that easier too.
So what can you do to make your life easier down the road? Preparing for rebranding an eLearning course is easier than just winging it later. First off, set up your template file with slide masters and a proper theme. Let’s look at a little bit about slide masters.
Slide Masters and Design Themes
Slide masters in Articulate Storyline (available in all versions) are very close to what you find in Microsoft PowerPoint. According to Articulate, they allow you to “control the default themes, colors, fonts, text, and objects for slides throughout your course”. You can learn all the ins and outs of using masters from that link. If you set up and apply masters correctly in your course then rebranding is very easy. You just have to change the theme, apply new fonts, colors, etc. and you have the new branding applied. I’ll also have another post just on how to use slide masters in a few weeks.
Design themes go along with masters and set the default for colours and fonts used in a project. You should customize your theme and then save it. After it’s created you can then go into your slide master and apply the theme to the master slides for consistency.
As long as you use the theme colors and fonts consistently throughout your project, then any time you update those theme elements, they’ll update globally.
Apply Theme Elements Correctly
This is really important. If you just apply any color to your project manually you won’t get the benefit of the themes. This is the key to being able to rebrand effortlessly. Here are a couple of screen shots to show how to apply the theme colors. Choosing colors outside of these (manually typing in a color code or choosing a different font for example) will deviate from the theme and make rebranding much more difficult.
What About Existing Projects?
So now you know how to set up your projects with the theme so you can rebrand effortlessly later, but what about existing projects? If you didn’t use themes and master slides originally then it is a little harder. However, you can make your life a little easier using the following tips:
Pick one element to change at a time
On courses without properly applied themes and masters, I find it easiest to focus on one element at a time. I go through the entire course and change all of the fonts first. Fonts impact the size of text, objects that text is in, and many other slide elements. I like to update this first. Then go through the course and change all of the colours. Be sure to use themes this time though so that it’s easier the next time.
Set up slide masters now and apply them
Even if you didn’t have slide masters to start with, creating them now will still save you time. Set up a new set of masters with the correct theme fonts and colors. Then go through your course and apply the new masters to all of the existing slides. You’ll still need to adjust content as you go but in the end the masters will save you time.
Decide early if you need to rebrand all elements
Does every aspect of the course need to be completely updated? Can you get away with just having a new logo and a splash of the new colors? Sometimes companies change branding but the new brand is quite similar to the old. It’s important to figure out how much actually needs to change. You might not need to rebrand an entire eLearning course. This is incredibly important if you have more than a few courses to rebrand. Find out what the bare minimum is and see if that’s adequate.
Do a Prototype First
This might be a no-brainer but it’s easy to forget. Does someone (like a marketing or communications team) need to sign off on the design? Do a prototype of a few slides that are representative of all of the types of content in your course and get approval before going too far. It’s awful to get halfway through an entire rebrand (especially one with multiple courses) only to find out you’re using the wrong logo or they wanted a particular object type to have a different color.
In the end, rebranding exercises are time-consuming, tedious work. The best way to make them as painless as possible is to plan ahead by preparing your files from the beginning. Use slide masters and design themes properly to make it all easier. If you weren’t able to do this or the courses were designed by someone else, then try to simplify things as much as possible.
How have you had success rebranding an eLearning course? What difficulties have you had when rebranding an eLearning course? What other tips do you have you could share? Comment below to join in. And, as always, if you just don’t have time to do the rebranding yourself, reach out to us! At Hemeon Learning we’re experts in all types of eLearning. Contact us to discuss your project.