Let’s start with a definition.

(v.) white label: To conceal the source brand and overlay a new name for the purpose of internal recognition

Many learning and development teams seem to think white-labeling is an essential part of their learning strategy. We disagree for a few reasons.

First, because white labeling brings a lot of unnecessary work.  You have to come up with this new name. You’ll have to get it approved.  You’ll have to get someone to help with the logo and colors and designs. And most important, you will need a series of marketing initiatives and communications to explain the why, what, how, etc. since it is new to the organization.

Why is that a problem? Do you have the expertise? The time? The tools? The budget?

Of course, you have to roll out any new application or process.  But when you retain the source branding there is one less set of hoops to jump through along the way.

Second, white labeling may not actually be as useful as multiple applications people already use at work every day are not white-labeled and re-branded.

Here are some examples:


More than you thought, right?  Sure, some of these have been around, some are widely known and others are becoming well known but didn’t exist two or three years back.  You allow new employees of your organization to acclimate quicker to your systems and processes when you choose to retain the original name and brand. I can just hear them now, “I used that at my last company.  I know how that works.”

We know it is a sensitive subject, but all companies are losing and gaining people every month.  Is this 10, 20, 30 percent or more for your organization? These are people you now have to do less communication with because they already get it. And for Degreed, people are starting to bring their lifelong learning profile with them from company to company.  Not to mention that many well-known organizations use Degreed.

Third, it’s just not that important to your workforce. And then there is the case for using “university,” “hub,” “portal,” or similar in your labels.

How would your people respond if they were polled and simply asked to describe “what do you think of when you hear the word “university”?  We think most would describe the campus they walked around years ago with their backpack on their shoulders. For “portal” or “hub”, we anticipate some generations would connect this to the way previous technologies have been deployed, but for millennials, they may be thinking “world wide web.”  The reality is that today most professionals have smartphones. And these smartphones have apps. Each of these apps has a unique purpose and your people know when and why to use them. Sometimes we need to call something what it is.

We’d love for you to just call us “Degreed.”  Why, because we would love to help with the communications online and offline with why it matters, how it can be utilized and what to do to discover, build and measure Skills. “Degreed” will become a part of their online and offline learning experience and quickly become integrated into their daily habits with our emails, digital assets, videos and more. Provide a consistent message with the Branding of “Degreed” and see adoption and usage grow.

Here is how we can help make you and your team successful:

  1. Build Brand Recognition Around the Office – Brand your intranet with “Degreed,” digital bulletin boards and onsite materials and events.
  2. Build Brand Recognition and Understand the Value – “Degreed” product emails send starting at their first log in through their first week on Degreed.
  3.  Build Brand Recognition and Create a Habit of Learning – “Degreed” sends a personalized weekly email to keep your teams discovering, building and measuring their Skills.
  4. Build Brand Recognition and Create a Social Experience – “Degreed” empowers your team to recommend content, follow others and see what others are learning in your organization.

At the end of the day, we at Degreed respect your decision to label things in a way that makes sense for your company.  We put this together to start a conversation and provoke a deeper discussion on “why”?

Reach out to your client experience team member to get started.

Whether you’ve been in L&D for decades or days, you’ve probably been asked to bake a cake for your company. While you might have also been asked to bake a delicious chocolate cake for a birthday, the cake I am talking about is The Magical Training Cake – the cake your L&D team makes to solve a business pain point.

Typically, the cake needs to solve a problem overnight with a one-time, eight-hour workshop with the goal of naturally sticking forever in the employee’s brain and behavior.


Mmmm, delicious?! Maybe not.

You’re likely nodding your head “Yes!” when I say many L&D teams have this two-fold struggle:

  1. Stakeholders come to your team with requests to bake/make a training. It might sound like, “We need you to bake a cake to improve frontline managers’ leadership skills.”
  2. You stir and bake for weeks and maybe even months. You pull it out of the oven. You serve the cake to managers. But they report not liking the taste, and some haven’t even taken a single bite.

You feel like you’re pushing the cake in your learners’ faces. You thought the cake was good – why don’t they?

You’d rather feel like you’re creating a pull effect, where your learning products and programs are magnets. They draw employees in.

Here’s one framework you can start using today to clarify a request up front, making sure everyone will like the cake.

Clarify projects with the 3×3 Walkthrough Method

Tom Cavill, a designer based in London, created the 3×3 Walkthrough Method. Cavill created this framework to focus his explanation and storytelling of a new app he created. (You can read here how Tom uses constraints for clarity.)

I think L&D teams could use this framework to clarify internal training initiatives. It helps distill the essence of the initiative so the stakeholders and execs feel empowered to become champions and sponsors of it.

At its most basic level, the 3×3 Walkthrough method also helps learners get instant clarity about the value of a program.

How It Works

The 3×3 Method constrains you to focus on solving this problem by answering why, what and how with only three-words. Here is an example:

3×3 Walkthrough for Leadership Development

A common challenge high-growth teams face is developing leadership skills in younger employees when the company is growing rapidly.

These young stars quickly move into leadership roles, but they don’t have the support and opportunity to learn how to be good managers.

Many companies adopt the same old approach to building leadership programs. Take what other people are doing, find the latest popular leadership framework, force people to go through workshops, and then expect them to become great managers overnight.

Instead, if you understand what’s really going on in your organization, you can use the 3×3 Walkthrough to distill a highly relevant leadership program like the following:

  • Why: Equip new managers
  • What: Leadership Foundation program
  • How: Daily micro habits

Filling out this template when receiving business requests will help you form the foundation to build a compelling case for human-centered learning design as the future of business growth.

Next steps

Take time today to think through the why, what, and how of the latest requests from your business leaders.

Here’s a 3×3 template you can copy and paste:

Why? (… does your product/program/project exist?)

What? (… does your product/program/project do?)

How? (… does your product/program/project differ from what exists?)

Instead of baking cakes, this helps you building a clear, concise path toward an integrated design approach.

Degreed will be hosting a hands-on workshop on Marketing in Learning at the Degreed LENS event on September 28th in Chicago. To register, visit the LENS website here.

**This post appeared in original format on the LinkedIn of Charbel Semaan

Though in learning now, I started my career in Direct Marketing and Loyalty Card Marketing and Product Development (yes, apologies for calls interrupting your dinner and your exploding mailbox…) I pivoted into HR and led the L&D Technology Products and Implementations for a Fortune 500 Bank. Having to re-invent myself and learn rapidly, I’ve become both fascinated and intrigued at the parallels of marketing and learning. More importantly, I’ve become convinced that L&D could use some marketing love!

But what marketers figured out (and where L&D professionals could benefit) was how we used data to get the right offer to the right customer at the right time while delivering an aspirational customer experience. The result? Engaged customers, changed behavior, and customers coming back for more.
Everyone in L&D and HR is currently obsessed with employee engagement. This has only been increased by everyone trying to figure out how to capitalize on both digital and social transformations, and their impact on employees, work and the workforce. Despite this, nobody is buying what we’re selling in L&D. We need to appeal to our learners, but “appealing” is a marketing problem, not a learning one.

Deloitte data says that nearly 7 out of 10 people they surveyed indicated they’re having a hard time getting workers to engage with L&D offerings.


I believe the key to achieving success is treating our learners like customers, and then understanding just who they are – the demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, and buying experience/behaviors. You then use that knowledge to cater the message and experience – delivering compelling, relevant offers and products that are meaningful and aspirational.
To understand your customers, I suggest you start by creating learner personas by segmenting your learners based on demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, learning needs and touchpoints. Google definition of a Persona: A persona, (also user persona, customer persona, buyer persona) is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of a specific segment.
You might have 2 personas, you might have 10. But the goal of a persona is to group your learners into categories around goals, challenges and how they operate.

Here is an example.


Here are 5 marketing practices you can use to increase engagement after defining your customer.

  1. Brand – develop a compelling aspirational brand and value proposition that is relevant for your employee segments. This includes compelling creative (look and feel), communication and messaging. (Think Nike!)
  2. Design – personalize the experience and make them want what you are “selling,” and make it personal. (Think Apple!)
  3. Market – target, make the offer and sell. And make them want to come back for more. (Think about the last time you went to Amazon to buy those killer heels. It starts with serving up relevant experiences, and more expensive shoes with each interaction!)
  4. Listen – get feedback, measure, and use the data collected to adjust. (Simple as thumbs up or down!)
  5. Loyalty – build a continuous relationship with your employees by communicating regularly. (All the retailers above do that well!)

The results
Understanding your customer, the employees, are the key to ensuring you deliver the right experience and get the engagement you expect for your L&D programs and technologies — and a return on your investment. Feel free to check out my recent ATD Webinar on How to Think Like a Marketer. It provides several specific marketing techniques learning practitioners can leverage in their daily work.

So, what are you doing to better understand your employees and encourage them to engage with what you are selling? We would love to hear your ideas!