You are a product. Be wanted!
You may be a star in whatever you do. You could be a great academician, a skilled sportsperson or an artist — but in an MBA college, you are just likeeveryone else. It is easy to get lost. So do not waste yourself — build your brand and be remembered.
Most of us think the world will recognize us for our achievements and everything will be fair in the end. Sometimes, it is too late before we realize that ‘fair’ can be a ‘fairy tale.’
If you want to create your own brand, ask yourselves these five simple questions:
Are you capable of making noise?
If we are capable of doing something or we actually do something, let others know about it. It is of nouse to work in isolation and wait for the world to recognize you. We need to recognize ourselves before that. Telling others what we have achieved and how they can benefit from it is a win-win situation for all. The best way to do this is to spread your achievements through word of mouth. Impact is only a “good-to-have” unless it is communicated to the right people.
Case: Suppose you play guitar and there is an annual festival in your college. There may be 50 others like you.So how do you differentiate yourself? Do not wait for the auditions and competition. Start making people aware of your guitar-playing skills from day 1. By the time your annual festival takes place, people already have your name in mind. This way, you would have already established your brand for a particular skill. And when the time is right, leverage the opportunity and buildyour visibility.
Are you honest and simple?
According to a research, the most effective way to reach consumers is not through detailed and complex websites orflashy advertisements, but rather through simplifying the decision-making process; in other words, presenting exactly what consumers need to know, while leaving out the rest. In fact, this research reveals that companies who simplified and streamlined the decision-making process for their customers were 86% more likely to make a sale. We are like products — if we are simple to use, people will find us more suitable for their purposes. So we need to make sure we do not come across as complex personalities. Be approachable and honest. By honest, I mean never making false promises about our capabilities.
Case: One of my classmates in college appeared for the placement cell interviews, theatre and dance competitions, and commerce fair. People thought he was an all-rounder. He created a great image of himself. Unfortunately, he could not make it anywhere. I remember him quoting – “I should have kept my focus and not rushed for everything.” ’Less is more’ truly applies here. Our capabilities should be simple, effective and true.
Are you generous and considerate?
Do you believe in giving back? When we think of the Tata Group, we do not only talk about its products, we always mention its in-depth approach of giving back to society through CSR activities. People know you more when you make a difference to their lives, rather than taking from them to make a difference to your life. So your brand building is directly proportional to what you do for your classmates, your professors, your flatmates, your maids and even your toughest competitors.
Case:During the selection of our class representative, students voted for a classmate who was not an expert in studies or possessed any significant leadership qualities. He was a people’s person, showed empathy and had created trust in fellow classmates. The opposition contender who had a great rapport with professors and an image of a strong leader lost in this case. I learned then – a leader always takes his people along.
Are you dependable?
Times always tests you when you are least prepared for it. These are the times when you need to be dependable and exhibit commitment to the people who have shown faith in you. You are their role model; they will talk about you in front of others. You should never let them down by taking any hasty decisions. It is not necessary to win for them, but they want you to fight for them till the end. If you find your team member missing from the group presentation day, that person is not dependable.
Case:In 2006, ViratKohli continued to play his batting innings even after hearing the news of losing his father the same day. His deep level of commitment and determination created a great brand for him. This incident may be lost, but the people involved here will remember Virat’s commitment for their lifetime.
Are you the future?
A very important aspect of creating your own brand is to focus on both the present and the future. People’s trust is long-term. We do not want to be a wave, but want to remain and be remembered forever. Consistency is what distinguishes you. Achieving this is very tough. It demands great courage and sacrifice, as we tend to falter when boredom hovers around us. People with great brands remain consistent in their ability to deliver. They also keep innovating with their delivery methods.
Case:The best example of a brand that comes to my mind is the Indian Army. Many in the Indian Army have forgone their family pleasures and sacrificed a civilian’s life to protect our borders.In my opinion, they are the most consistent people and will be remembered forever. Their brand will remain intact.
Your MBA and professional career will provide you various opportunities to build a brand for yourself. Stay simple, consistent, emphatic and dependable to touch other people’s lives. And you shall be a winner everywhere.
Contributed by Virag Jain ( Class of 2010, IBS MUMBAI )