Why Consolidate Multiple Brands?

by Greg Surtman

As we work with colleges across the country, we can’t help but notice the array of creative names being used to “brand” their business unit. While we feel that several of these brands resonate with their core audience, we have also found that several colleges have multiple brands within their academic institution. The main reason for having multiple brands typically has to do with the reporting structure for different program areas. For example, the “Workforce” brand may own programs related to Manufacturing, Healthcare, & Public Safety while the “Corporate” brand may own programs related to Leadership, Quality, Project Management, & Information Technology.

Another reason why colleges may have multiple brands is to separate “open enrollment” activities from “contract” activities. For example, the “open enrollment” brand may be offering Microsoft Excel training, while the “contract” brand would customize an Intermediate Excel class for 100 employees at the local housing authority. Since each brand has their own budget and revenue expectation, they sometimes compete with each other by offering different prices for similar courses.

For the most part, all of these business units have the same mission… To help organizations in their marketplace become more innovative, more productive, and more profitable through a strategic investment in their most important asset, their employees. They may also provide Open Enrollment offerings to help individuals improve skills to either find a job and/or move forward in their career.

These business units have brand names like:

The important questions to consider as you identify your Brand are:

Both of these questions can be answered through Focus Group and/or Survey activities. More importantly, the process of gathering feedback from your clients and employees will drastically improve your ability to execute your business plan. Our advice to colleges who have multiple brands is simple. Engage clients & employees, and then consolidate to one brand.

The two main advantages to having one brand include:

  1. To minimize confusion from the clients’ perspective about who you are and what you do. Clients inherently want to work with “solution providers” who are able to meet their unique learning needs to address their specific business issues. They prefer not to be “lobbed over the fence” to multiple brands (program units) within the same college only to have different experiences and feel like your college is not working together as a strategic partner. Under one brand, you are much better positioned to be the solution provider they are looking for.
  2. The opportunity to consolidate your organizational structure to create better efficiencies that support the things that are wildly important like:

If your college has multiple brands, please contact Greg Surtman at 216-509-6398, or

Happy Selling, my friends…