By Professor Tim Calkins
Tomorrow more than 1,000 students will graduate from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. I’ve taught almost half of them. They will soon start at new jobs, branch out in different industries and begin careers in cities around the world.
It is an exciting moment, transitioning from one thing to the next. It is a time of endings and beginnings, and it is scary, too.
For the past two years, I’ve posted financial advice for graduates. You can read last year’s recommendations here.
This year I’m focusing on brand building. This is an important topic for new graduates. Your personal brand will have a huge impact on your career. If your brand stands for reliability, cooperation, analytical thinking and leadership, you will get good assignments. Senior managers will give you the benefit of the doubt when things don’t go perfectly. If people think you make mistakes and can’t be counted on, things won’t go well.
Here are four pieces of advice to build a strong brand.
From Kellogg Insight
We are in the thick of the 2016 presidential primaries, and you are likely hearing from candidates every time you turn on your TV or radio, or go online. The candidates are eager to set themselves apart in your mind and tell you what sort of president they would be. Essentially, they are fighting to brand themselves.
First-year student Rohan Rajiv is blogging once a week about important lessons he is learning at Kellogg. Read more of his posts here.
A brand is simply a network of associations that exist in the minds of customers. Seeing the famous Nike swoosh or the Coca Cola logo triggers associations in our mind.
Brand associations are incredibly powerful because they stick. Malaysian Airlines, for example, is likely to face the consequences of its two tragedies for a very long time. These discussions naturally lead us to other conversations around what companies do with these associations – rebranding, repositioning, etc. We’ll leave those topics for a later time and, instead, learn from one of the early exponents of the power of a brand: Blackbeard the Pirate.