September 7, 2021

You Are Not a Brand

“Marketing yourself” to business schools simply means understanding that your application is an act of personal advocacy, not a workplace self-evaluation, class paper, or confessional. But don’t get carried away with the marketing metaphors. Brands are often faddishly short-lived, skin-deep, and exhaustively focus-grouped. You should not be. All Apple iPads and Nike Air Jordan’s are essentially the same. No two humans are. Thinking of yourself as a brand is the first self-falsifying step away from the self-reflection schools want and toward the pointless preoccupation with other applicants that they abhor. Before you know it you’ll be wasting time trying to figure out what schools “want to hear- or which post-MBA goals are hot this year. Rather than projecting flashy, airbrushed images of yourself as the Maseroti or Budweiser of B-school applicants, conceive of yourself instead as a unique person who desperately needs to communicate something to the adcom. That something is not just your need for an MBA-it’s deeper: what makes your life and experiences compelling to you. So, yes, market yourself, but yourself, not some phony personal brand.

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