Employees are key to brand success

Judith Doyle, principal and CEO of Gateshead College, discusses the importance of brand-building in the business world

Virgin, Google and Rolls Royce are some of the world’s most iconic names that have stood the test of time. All three companies have been successful because their brand – and all that it stands for – is well-known, respected and trusted.

Brand is so much more than a name, company logo or fancy marketing slogan. It is how people perceive your business as a result of their experience of it. Having the right people with the right skills in the organisation is essential. They make the product or deliver the service, they uphold your values and create the culture and behaviours which determine your success.

Brand-building takes time, effort and continuous investment. Newcomers to the market find that they’re competing against brands that have been around for several decades – a difficult challenge and perhaps a reason why so many start-ups fail within their first three years of trading, but it can also be an opportunity to create something distinct and to stand out.

More than 60 years ago, Gateshead College became pioneers of apprenticeship training, working hand in hand with local engineering firm Sigmund Pumps, and have gone on to deliver vocational training tailored to the business needs of hundreds of other employers. In all this time our core purpose has remained the same: to deliver training that gets people job-ready and helps employers become more productive and competitive. That is the essence of our brand: education with employment edge.

Every single employee has an important role to play in delivering this. After joining Gateshead College, all new employees take part in a brand workshop with the director of marketing and communications, highlighting what we stand for and the behaviours they’re expected to display. In return, we continuously train and develop them so that they’re able to perform at the top of their game and can play their role in creating a brand we can all be proud of.

A strong and clear brand helps organisations stand out from the competition, drives business growth and gives focus and purpose to the work it does. Get it wrong, however, and this could have disastrous consequences for reputation, staff morale and profitability.

Because we understand the importance of brand, we can help other businesses strengthen theirs. Over the last six decades, we’ve delivered flexible training programmes tailored specifically to the needs of each company we’ve worked for, enabling them to develop a pipeline of skilled talent who can grow and develop their business.

One of our long-standing partners is the region’s third largest employer, Go North East – a brand renowned in the local business community for its commitment to innovation and customer service excellence. The company recognises the importance of continuously investing in its people and we’ve helped it to deliver several bespoke training programmes, including an award-winning mechanical engineering apprenticeship and a unique bus driver training and development initiative.

Aimed at fulfilling Go North East’s driver recruitment needs, while supporting local unemployed people back into work, the programme provides candidates with the specialist training required to meet the company’s high standards and improve candidates’ chances of future employment. Comprising practical driving tuition, English, Maths and interpersonal skills refresher courses, and blended with critical subjects such as interview techniques, health and safety and – crucially for Go North East – customer service, learners also receive depot tours with an extensive company induction to introduce the operator’s strong vision, beliefs and attitudes; embedding them into the culture from day one.

Maximising the potential of your people is critical to the success of your brand and I am delighted that we are playing a key role in helping employers across the region to do this. Seeing those businesses become more productive and competitive as a result of developing their people demonstrates that we are delivering on our brand promise.

Gateshead College