Compliments and Complements Help Build Your Brand

Yes, there is a difference between these two words. They represent two types of skills, skills you will need to be successful in business and successful in graduate school. Graduate school provides you with the opportunity to fine tune these brand building skills over the course of your studies and easily translate them to the work environment.


Let’s start with compliments first. I know you heard this before, “It’s nothing personal, it’s strictly business.”

This suggests that there is no place in business for being personal and respectful. WRONG.
I also know you heard this before, “You never get a second chance to create a first impression.” RIGHT.

Your first impression goes a long way to helping you build a strong positive brand. If you are to continue to grow your brand in that trajectory, you need to continue with positive, consistent, and relevant behavior. That includes being respectful and complimentary.

As graduate students, you know you are consistently being called on to be a team player in your group work. This involves agreements, conflicts, and compromise. Complimentary behaviors and respecting your peers’ expertise and complementary skills will go a long way to creating and building your brand.


In a previous post, I recommended that you seek out those peers who possess complementary skill sets. The essential meaning behind this is that your brand does not exist in a vacuum. Completing graduate level projects and case studies require a holistic multidisciplinary approach, and you should understand how your brand fits in with the big picture.

Communicating and working closely with individuals with complementary skill sets will help you understand the context in which your brand will thrive. By extension, it will help you build your personal brand.

For example, if you are a marketing expert, and branded as such, you can expand your brand equity (the value of your brand) by understanding how your brand fits in with other functional (business) areas by working with someone who has a strong brand equity in another area.

The bottom line is this, working closely with and complimenting those with complementary skills will help enable you to understand and speak more authoritatively about your brand in the context of your group, your company, or any potential employer.



Howard, an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at the California State University Fullerton, earned his Ph.D. from Temple University. Prior to joining the faculty at Cal State, Howard was on the faculty at Drexel University and The Pennsylvania State University. A native of Philadelphia, Howard has extensive experience in the public and private sectors working for organizations such as the Department of Defense, Motorola, and the CSX railroad.  His research expertise is in branding, sustainability, strategic pricing, and education. In addition to teaching at Cal State, Howard has a consulting business focused on branding. You can follow Howard on Twitter or connect with him atLinkedin.

Related posts:

  1. Your Brand Assignment: Group Work
  2. Your Graduate Brand, a Major Decision
  3. Look for a Campus and a Brand

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