Educator Toolkit: Building Your Brand

by Kara Dunn

Why This Matters Now

In today’s competitive world, personal brand has become an important differentiator. Whether applying to college, interviewing for a first job, or even angling for a promotion at work, it all comes down to how well you stand out from the crowd. What sets you apart? That’s why it’s never too early to start developing a personal brand. Pamila Brown, a community investment specialist with Manpower Group, which provides workforce solutions for big companies, believes that your ability to function well as corporate employees begins with your personal brand, or more specifically, the characteristics that you become known for in the workplace. “A lot of kids in high school say they don’t think their personal brand is important,” says Brown. “They think that by the time they go to work, they will flip a switch and have an amazing personal brand. The fact is laying the foundation today for your personal brand is very important. You need to begin to build those characteristics that you see as good for you, so that the day you go out to get that position, you already have a well-developed brand.” An exceptional brand, adds Brown, will give you a competitive advantage.


Gucci Goes Fur-free and Other News from the Fashion Business
Building a personal brand often involves self-exploration and reflection. Even if you don’t have a clue what career you hope to pursue, you can still begin to evaluate your interests and strengths. Once you pinpoint your niche, you can begin to develop your brand in different ways. This Global Youth article illustrates how Hannah C., a high school senior from Chicago, has taken her passion for fashion and business to all new levels by creating a website, a blog and an identity as a fashion analyst. All the while, her personal brand has become more defined. Students can begin to see what it means to have a brand – even as a 17-year-old – and some of the opportunities available to communicate your brand. Blogging, for instance, has become a powerful brand-building tool in the digital age. It’s a way to express what you love and let your voice be heard, through writing, photos, videos or whatever medium excites you.

Lesson Plan
You Are Your Brand
Wharton Global Youth has many different personal brand-related lesson plan. The “You Are Your Brand” lesson introduces students to the concept of a personal brand, as well as encourages them to develop their own. Once they think about the people, places and things that they can’t live without, they will then write a speech that someone would deliver about them when they receive a lifetime achievement award for excellence in leadership. This allows them to think about their current brand, as well as how they see it developing in the future. This lesson also sparks valuable discussion about the ways in which what a person values affects their personal brand.

Hands-on Learning
A key component of the “You Are Your Brand” lesson plan involves students commenting on the values, hopes and dreams of their classmates. Developing a personal brand requires self-awareness and assessment, as well as a sense of how others see you. In this separate activity, pair each student with a partner (not necessarily someone who knows them well!) and have students interview each other and take notes on what they learn. They should use this interview guide to fuel their discussion. Students use the information gathered in their interviews to create a movie poster to introduce their partner to the class. Essentially, the movie poster is a creative way to display their partners’ responses to the questions; students pretend their interviewee is the subject of an exciting new film. Using construction paper and markers, students each create a poster that includes:

  1. Title: a word or phrase that relates to an important part of the interviewee’s life;
  2. Adjectives (at least five): words that describe the interviewee’s strengths and abilities;
  3. Plot “teasers” (at least two): short descriptions of important events or accomplishments that are part of the interviewee’s life;
  4. Illustration: image that represents one of the interviewee’s future goals

Encourage students to use their creativity. They may include even more than the required elements on the movie poster, as long as the elements represent important features of the interviewee’s life and goals. Present the posters and discuss their connection to personal brand.

Video Glossary
Provide an extra layer of learning for your students with our video glossary. Here, Wharton professors define terms: Brand, Branding, Brand Manager, Brand Personality, Brand Value.

Wharton Global Youth Quote of the Month
“Building a personal brand is important regardless of what you want to do. Creating your own personal brand through the professional experiences you’ve had and through the experiences and courses you’ve taken is important. I use various social networking tools to create a personal brand. Also, when I meet people physically, when I network with them, I always take care to tell them what I’ve done, why I’m relevant, and I tailor it to them.” – Tony Wang, Bioethicist and Fashion Blogger

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