October 11, 2023

Pedagogical Branding: Developing Your Personal Brand Image

This article is a translation of a text published in Eductive’s French edition.

Whether you want it or not, whether you are a teacher, a pedagogical counsellor, or in another position, you have a personal brand image. It’s all about what others say about you and what they remember about you. It’s your trademark; your signature.

Individual branding

I have a personal interest in the gamification of learning. In fact, I co-developed a professional development activity on this topic for the teaching staff at my college with my colleague Catherine Gauthier. This training had Star Wars as its theme. That’s why I often introduce myself as a “Jedi of Gamification”. Those who attended the training may remember me that way anyway. Others might be curious and want to know more, especially if they are interested in gamification.

In my network, especially among the REPTIC community, it has become a recurring joke to associate me with Grogu (Baby Yoda). I always have a Grogu stuffed toy close at hand, and I don’t hesitate to show it on camera when appropriate. I even have a Grogu t-shirt that I proudly wear from time to time!

“Oh yes, Marie-El, the Jedi of Gamification! I know who you’re talking about!”

My Grogu stuffed toy


Grogu and me (Rey) on Halloween 2021

Another example: my colleague Julien Martineau, a pedagogical counsellor at the ITAQ since the fall of 2022, was previously a teacher at Marianopolis College. During the pandemic, he started recording video tutorials in his basement. He officially became the “prof de sous-sol” (basement teacher), which is the name of his YouTube channel [in French]. By choosing this branding, he intended to project a “relaxed” image: professional but without pressure. This aligns with the purpose behind his videos, which is to demystify literature and poetry for young people, making it accessible and interesting. In his humorous videos, he wears an orange beanie (a colour reminiscent of vintage basements and used in his video thumbnails) and, of course… he’s in his basement!

As a teacher, your students may already refer to you in a distinctive way. You might be “Luc, the teacher who always makes Pokemon comparisons,” “Marie-Soleil, the teacher who starts every class with a poem,” “Émilie, the teacher who puts unicorns everywhere in her course notes,”or even “Guillaume, the teacher who wears shorts all year round.”

Why not leverage this image and use it to its full potential? It could strengthen the bonds with your students or help you build relationships with them more quickly.

Build on your personal brand from the beginning of the semester (even in your course plan, why not?), rather than waiting for students to discover it themselves.

The importance of being yourself

I conducted a workshop on pedagogical branding for i-mersion CP [in French], a community that brings together pedagogical counsellors from colleges and universities. During the activity, a fellow colleague from the REPTIC/IT-REP network, Youen Cariou [in French], who has his own unique and bold style, shared that when he obtained a position at the university, he bought his 1st suit and wore it every day for teaching. One day, a colleague asked him, “When will we finally get to discover the ‘real’ you?” That’s when he realized that even though he had always felt that wearing a suit was necessary to work at a university… it wasn’t true! It wasn’t him. The same applies to you with your students.

In the classroom, you benefit from being yourself. You are then more comfortable, more authentic, and this makes the classes more enjoyable for both you and your students. Some teachers wear suits because it aligns with their personal style, and that’s perfectly fine, but it’s not the right fit for everyone!

Choose communication methods consistent with who you are and your personal brand. Videos are popular these days, but if you don’t enjoy recording them and don’t like seeing yourself on video, then it might not be the right choice for you. The result could be disappointing. An audio recording might suit you better, or perhaps an animated video without narration created using Powtoon?

Similarly, choose teaching methods that reflect your personality. Generally, students love quizzes created with Kahoot! But if you feel uncomfortable even leading such a quiz, don’t do it! Students will sense that you’re doing something you dislike, and the activity may not work as effectively.

Team branding

At the ITAQ, my pedagogical counsellor colleagues and I also have a team brand image. Each of us has created a Bitmoji avatar, and we sometimes use them as a group, in our team communications.

Dessin de type "cartoon" représentant Marie-El Domingue, dont la tête dépasse de l'intérieur d'un écran d'ordinateur portable, et qui fait un salut de la maint

The Bitmoji avatar I created for myself

The New Year’s wishes sent by our team

Bitmojis used as a reminder for a pedagogical workshop

As a team, especially when organizing events, we standardize the visual aspect of some of our communications to project a consistent image.

Why not do the same within your teaching department?

Visual identity

Your personal brand image includes everything you project: the tone and level of language you use, your gestures, your clothing style, etc. But undoubtedly, a part of your brand image revolves around your visual identity, such as the appearance of the documents (course notes, slide presentations, exams) you produce.

Make sure that your visual identity is professional and consistent. Your students should be able to associate you at a glance with the documents you produce: they will recognize you in your choice of fonts and layout. For example, you can select a specific colour palette [in French] for all your communications. (You can try using this colour palette generator.)

See, for example, the (consistent) materials we produced for our 2022 pedagogical day.

Promotional poster for the 2022 pedagogical day

Title screen for the recordings of the workshops from the pedagogical day

And our materials for our 2023 Digital Days:

Promotional poster for ITAQ’s Digital Days in 2023


Email banner

Preview of the heading of our newsletter announcing the 2023 Digital Days

Our visually uniform material allowed teachers to quickly connect the various elements and associate them with each other. Since our event was institutional, we followed the ITAQ’s graphic charter. Your institution’s charter can also be a good starting point for you! You can use some elements and customize others. Let your personality shine through.

As teachers, don’t underestimate the importance of visuals in your communications with your students. Suppose you’re starting a project with your students and sending them instructions via email. While the standard “black-on-white” text-based approach can be effective, they will be even more inclined to engage with you if your message is attractive and visually appealing.

Course branding through theme integration

For our pedagogical day, we created consistent materials that gave the event its distinct brand identity (while also respecting ITAQ’s brand image). You can do the same in your courses: a course (or a specific pedagogical activity) can have its own unique brand image that aligns with your personal brand image.

For example, the gamification training I developed with Catherine Gauthier had Star Wars as its theme. The visuals, scenarios, participant avatars, badge names, fonts, etc.: everything was themed around Star Wars. This gamified the learners’ experience, making it more memorable.

Obviously, the chosen theme may not appeal to everyone. One of the teachers who attended the training knew nothing about Star Wars and was concerned that it might hinder her. This was not the case at all: Star Wars is “the container” and not “the content.” In the end, she completed the training without any difficulty and even participated in choosing a theme-based avatar!

The same applies to your students if, for example, you decide to liven up one of your course units with references to dinosaurs or Occupation double. One theme may appeal to certain individuals while causing others to lose interest. The key is ensuring that even those unfamiliar with the theme or who don’t particularly like it can learn just as effectively as the others.

By varying the themes throughout the semester, you’ll engage a broader range of students. This approach is compelling because selecting a theme is an effective way to make course content memorable and establish its branding. Themes can be applied to:

  • a chapter in your course notes
  • a class session
  • a project
  • a semester-long assignment
  • etc.

An asset… but no panacea

In my opinion, developing a strong pedagogical brand is an asset for any teacher (or course, or activity!). However, you shouldn’t kid yourself (or put too much pressure on yourself): you can have a remarkably well-developed personal brand and still face challenges in motivating some of your students. On the contrary, you may have never thought about your personal brand and still have very strong connections with your students and effectively “sell your courses.” Branding is one tool among many!

Have you adopted a particular branding approach in your courses? Share your experience in the comments section.

About the author

Marie-El Domingue

After teaching at the secondary level for a few years and then at the college level for nearly 10 years, Marie-El Domingue now works as an educational advisor and IT Rep at the ITAQ. Passionate about technopedagogy, she is interested in 21st-century competencies, inclusive pedagogy, and innovative approaches, such as gamification in teaching – to name but a few!

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