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Lessons in brand identity should start in high school

Like many in America, I watched the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. I heard the grave stats about our country’s debt. Then I heard the promises to our next generation about the affordability of their education. I couldn’t help but do my own research after these conventions were all said-and-done. What I learned downright scared me.

What is going on?!

College tuition is on the rise, I get that. But there’s more to it. One stat said enough for me: 80% of college students change their major at least once.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that today’s students are confused…about themselves. And when you learn that roughly 80% of workers in their 20s say they want to change careers because they had not figured out what they should be doing, you quickly realize that they take their confusion into the workplace.

May I stop for a second and make a confession? I was one of those confused students.

Entering college, I declared my major based on my interests in high school. I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. Why? I could stay in sports & make a LOT of money. What I didn’t know at the time is that the interests of a high school student are like coupons. They expire. Mine did two weeks into college Organic Chemistry. I hated science. Wait a minute…I hated science? Duh.

Five years later, I graduated from college. If only I had more clarity coming into college, I could have graduated in four years and saved close to $30,000.

What I needed in high school were some lessons on how to develop my own brand identity.

Brand identity is defined as the representation of your (or your company’s) reputation through the conveyance of attributes, values, purpose, strengths, and passions.

The most successful businesses and brands are clear on their identity – who they are, why they exist, who they can help, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Most importantly, these businesses can confidently communicate their identity to the marketplace.

Don’t be fooled. Successful businesses don’t just declare their identity overnight. They have to go through an internal brand audit to determine it. I know “brand audit” sounds painful, but, trust me, I’ve seen it become a catalyst for clarity, confidence, and effective communication. For my clients. For me.

Doesn’t that sound like something every high school student needs? I can tell you from firsthand experience that I sure did.

Bottom line, the fundamentals of developing brand identity should not be deemed exclusive to businesses or professionals. High school students need to learn and apply them for themselves. The alternative is scary – financially and emotionally.

On a scale of 1-10, how clear is your son or daughter on his or her direction in life (1 = no clarity, 10 = 100% clarity)? What seems to be distracting him or her?

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