When I say “brand” what comes to your mind? If technology turns you on, you might say Apple or Google. If you love chicken, you might say KFC. If you value integrity or results, you might say Tata or Infosys. If you are particularly thirsty, you might even say Kingfisher! Normally when we think of brands we consider products, services or even companies. But strange though it may seem even people can be brands. Which leads me to my next question: Can an MBA student be a brand?
People, such as Gandhi and Churchill and, more recently, Narendra Modi have become brands in themselves. And the world of sports and entertainment are full of brands, such as Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan and closer-home, from Chennai, Rajnikanth, and the mere mention of these names is enough for people to go into raptures. This is the reason why so many brands use celebrities in advertising. They feel people follow them, track them and, hopefully, will use the products they endorse.
You are probably thinking all this is fine but how can you say an MBA student too can be a brand. Here, you are a student who has probably come from an engineering college doing a management course and in your opinion, quite similar to many of your classmates. So how does an ordinary person like you, or me, become a brand is perhaps your logical question. Let me try to explain this to the best of my limited ability.
So what makes a brand successful?
While multiple reasons and theories are advanced for the success of brands, such as quality, customer experience or technology, the actual reasons for success are a little more deep rooted and that must focus on the consumer’s perspective – for consumers make or mar brands. So what exactly makes brands successful? Brands that are “relevant” to consumers and “different” from their competition are successful. So how can you an MBA student be relevant to the people around you and how can you be different from your classmates and friends? After all you will be competing with some of them for the same job.
Can you dress differently?
I know you are in a stage of life where you are completely casual about the way you look or dress. You are probably growing a straggly beard, wear cargoes and dirty T-shirt and, in fact, look quite similar to your classmates. Even if you wear jeans, can you wear neatly pressed ones and be clean shaven, however difficult that may seem? Remember Jawaharlal Nehru and his clothes, Churchill and his bowler hat or Gandhi and his loin cloth. Even Narendra Modi has a distinct style of dressing.
Think about your appearance, after all, your first impression can be your best impression if you just apply yourself.
Stand for something
The greatest people stood for certain important qualities. Gandhi was an embodiment of truth. Churchill would never give up in the face of adversity. Tendulkar despite his enormous success continues to be an extremely humble person. So what is important to you? Which is the key quality that you will never compromise on or given up on? Think about it, it could determine your future direction and be the very cornerstone of your brand. A brand which values integrity will follow these principles in life.
Be known for something
Even amongst your classmates, I am sure you would have noticed a few of your classmates with special skills. One of them might be a cricket statistician who will tell you how many runs Sachin Tendulkar scored in Johannesburg against Pakistan in the World Cup in 2003. There would be another who might be a gadget guru and advise you on the right mobile for you, features, et al. Another may be a motor cycle expert and the go-to guy if you ever wanted to buy a motor cycle. And the list goes on… So this leads me to the next important question. What do you wish to be known for? This is an important question and will determine what your brand could be all about in the very near future. Will you be known as the “patent king” or the “app queen”? Will you be the number cruncher who studies annual reports in his spare time or the “dosa king” of the future? It is important to think of your future and that means thinking about what direction you will take. Not easy, but start the process. Today is the day.
So, young friend you are at a very important stage in your life. Don’t think of your MBA as a mere course but something which shows you the direction to the future and remember you can make what you wish of your future.
May God be with you in your quest to be a brand!
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