If you didn’t already notice, the calendar says it’s April.
For many of you, your semester is beginning to wind down and spring fever has sprung! Some of you may have already begun to pack your bags. Others of you may have already begun to think about how much fun you are going to have when school is finished. For those of you who are seniors, you might be in the midst of your search for a graduate school or a career.
Too often, students wait until they are right on top of a deadline before they start to work in earnest. I am sure most of you know what I mean. For example, many of you wait until a week or two before a major term paper is due before you start on it…even if you are given an entire semester to do it!
While this might plan work for some things, it won’t for everything. For example, last minute “planning” will not work when you are developing your personal brand. A well-developed personal brand is going to help you get admitted to that graduate school on the top of your list or land that position you saw posted through your school’s career center.
If last minute planning won’t work for developing your personal brand, you might be asking, “when is a good time to start building your brand?” How about as soon as you are finished reading this blog?
Don’t panic…there is still time!
The truth is most people have a resume, education, and experience. Not many have a brand, so if you start thinking now about what your personal brand should be, you are way ahead of many of your peers. Like any successful brand (i.e. Nike, Coke, New York Yankees, and Apple) you need to start making a connection between your name/brand and what you want it to stand for. Building, maintaining, and growing your brand requires planning, organizing, and controlling your brand.
Let’s start with planning.
The first step is to devote time to think about the meaning of your personal brand. At the risk of sounding cliché, make every minute of the day count and utilize your time wisely. Block out at least ten minutes every day to start thinking about what your brand should be and what it should mean.
What meaning(s) should be synonymous with your name? Industrious? Serious? Intelligent? Well-dressed? Trendy? I can go on, but I won’t. One bit of advice is to make sure that the meanings associated with your name should also be consistent with your core values. Students creating brands inconsistent with their core values often find, in the long run, difficulty living and managing that inconsistency.
As far as your core values are concerned, start by thinking about those things you value and are important to you. Hard work? Self-improvement? Education? I can go on, but I won’t. Jot down your thoughts. After you have a list of twenty items or so, rank them in order of importance.
You are on well on your way to creating your brand. Next you need to devise a plan to make sure your most important core values will be synonymous with your name. In my next post, we’ll explore how to develop that plan. In the meantime, put that list together. You will be amazed at what you find out…about yourself.
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 at Linkedin.