The Power of Branding: Building and Maintaining a Strong Identity

By: Chana Wakslak  |  March 27, 2024

By Chana Wakslak, Senior Business Editor and Business Manager

What connects Coca-Cola, Kylie Jenner’s Instagram, and a shidduch resume? It’s branding! Whether it’s a multinational corporation, a social media influencer, or even someone close to us, everyone is engaged in building and maintaining their outward image and personal identity. 

While the branding strategies of major corporations and celebrities often dominate marketing courses, the insights they offer for our personal and professional growth remain relatively uncharted territory. Looking for a job? Wouldn’t you aim for descriptions like “intellectual,” “passionate,” or “reliable” to precede you? Yet, how can we actively cultivate such perceptions of ourselves? 

Branding, essentially, is the backend work that constructs a tapestry of associations. Think of Coca-Cola—what springs to mind? It’s become synonymous with happiness, camaraderie, and fun. These perceptions are created by Coca-Cola through strategic partnerships, advertising supremacy, and unforgettable campaigns and slogans. For example, through partnerships with parks like Six-Flags, Coca-Cola increases its visibility and prevalence while forming an association with feelings of freedom, fun, or joy. 

Consumers tend to gravitate towards companies they know, like, and trust, with first impressions playing a crucial role. Therefore, branding revolves around five key steps: research, strategy, design, touchpoints, and forecasting. These steps involve activities such as running stakeholder analyses, crafting positioning statements, selecting logo colors, and launching relevant advertisements, all aimed at building recognition and likeability for the product. Each of these choices affects the way a product is perceived, and therefore the likelihood of its purchase. 

If you were to launch a campaign for yourself, how would you approach it? The truth is, that we are constantly engaged in this process. Every choice we make– our attire, speech, or even the way we walk– contributes to the narrative we project. We’re the architects of our brand.

However, in the realm of personal branding, perhaps authenticity reigns supreme. While it’s tempting to emulate the strategies of corporate giants and work to create meticulous impressions, staying true to ourselves may be just as effective. Authenticity fosters trust and connection, qualities that are invaluable in both professional and personal relationships. It’s about finding the intersection between our true selves and the image we wish to project to the world, aligning our actions with our values and aspirations.

A more real-world example is shidduchim. Getting a date is like selling a product– yourself! The way we present ourselves– whether as vivacious, reserved, professional, or commanding– and the web of associations we form around ourselves– be it our network, our dress, or our chosen major– have a profound impact on how others perceive us and the opportunities that come our way. 

The concept of personal branding extends beyond mere self-presentation—it also encompasses our reputation, our network, and even our legacy. Building a strong personal brand is not just about crafting a polished image: it’s about forming meaningful relationships, fostering credibility, and leaving a lasting impact on those we encounter. Whether we realize it or not, our personal brand precedes us, shaping the opportunities that come our way and influencing the perceptions of those around us.

So, whether we’re sipping a Coke, scrolling through Instagram, or preparing for a life-changing interview, the principles of branding are at play. By keeping in mind the principles of branding strategies employed by corporations and individuals alike, we can elevate our personal and professional lives, charting a course toward success and fulfillment.