The 5 Minute Guide to Branding Yourself in MBA Applications

MBAIn business school we take classes called “marketing & brand management.”  In this class we learn how to create and sell a brand.  One of the most important things to do as we manage a brand is to create a unique selling proposition for the consumer which differentiates the brand from the competition by providing evidence of what makes the brand special and necessary.

Wikipedia defines the Unique Selling Proposition as follows:

“The unique selling proposition (USP), or unique selling point, is a marketing concept first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern in successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. The USP states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer that convinced them to switch brands. The term was developed by television advertising pioneer Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. Theodore Levitt, a professor at Harvard Business School, suggested that, “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”[1] The term has been used to describe one’s “personal brand” in the marketplace.[2] Today, the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects.

I tend to view MBA admissions in terms of marketing and strategy.  Thus, to me, the job of the MBA applicant is to create a “Brand-You,” that incorporates the USP that differentiates you from other candidates.  Therefore, answering for the AdCom why they should admit you over the thousands of other qualified applicants.

I ask candidates to brainstorm the 10-15 most compelling points of your applicancy that you want to communicate in your essays, in your interview, your resume, and via recommendations.  Put them in order, and use this “Brand-Me Top 10” as your guiding document across all of your application components. By completing the below “Brand-Me” template first, you should be able to subsequently create your “Brand-Me Top 10.”

“Brand-Me” Template

 

Educational Background/Scores

Undergrad

Educational Institution:
Ranking of Institution:
Degree:
Date received:
GPA:
If your GPA is low, why?
Major/concentration:
Minor:
Honors:
Scholarships received:
Major papers/publications:
Relevant coursework:
How did you stand out in college?

  • UNDERGRADUATE STRENGHTS/WEAKNESSES
  • ASSESSMENT OF UNDERGRAD RECORD (top tier school, demanding course load, top grades, courses in econ/math/calc/stats/writing)

Graduate Information (if applicable)

Educational Institution:
Degree:
Date received:
GPA:
If your GPA is low, why?
Honors:
Scholarships received:
Major papers/publications:
Relevant coursework: e.g., Calculus, Statistics, Finance, etc.
How did you stand out in grad school?

  • UNDERGRADUATE STRENGHTS/WEAKNESSES
  • ASSESSMENT OF UNDERGRAD RECORD (top ties school, demanding course load, top grades, courses in econ/math/calc/stats/writing)

Other coursework/certificates (if applicable)

Courses taken:
Certificates earned:
Special Training:

GMAT History

Have you taken the GMAT? When?
What was your overall score (list the highest score)?
What was your verbal subscore and %?
What was your math subscore and %?
What best describes your GMAT preparation?
When will you begin preparation?
When did/will you finish your preparation?
Preparation type:

  • ASSESSMENT OF SCORE (STRENGHT/WEAKNESS):

Career/Work Experience

Employers:
Location:
Job Title:
Dates:
Promotions:
Supervisory Role:
Number of People Managed:
Responsibilities:

  • OVERALL DESCRIBE NATURE OF WORK EXPERIENCE(S) STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES
  • STRENGTHS IN CAREER LEADERSHIP
  • STRENGTHS IN CAREER INNOVATION
  • STRENGTHS IN CAREER ACHIEVEMENT

Extracurricular Activities

Activity(s):

Dates:
Responsibilities:
Offices Held:
Were you elected/Appointed?
Supervisory Role:
Number of People Managed:
Describe how you were a Leader in this role?
Describe how you were innovative in this role?
Describe teamwork involved?
How many hours a week do you spend on this activity?
Why did you get involved in this activity?

  • STRENGTHS IN EXTRACURRICULAR
  • DEPTH OF INVOLVEMENT IN EXTRACURRICULAR
  • LEADERSHIP IN EXTRACURRICULAR
  • WHAT IS UNUSUAL IN YOUR EXTRACURRICULARS
  • TWO MAJOR EXTRACURRICUALRS OF DEPTH
  • DESCRIBE BALANCE OF EXTRACURRICULARS POST-UNDERGRAD vs DURING UNDERGRAD

Philanthropic Activities

Activity(s):

Dates:
Responsibilities:
Offices Held:
Were you elected/Appointed?
Supervisory Role:
Number of People Managed:
Describe how you were a Leader in this role?
Describe how you were innovative in this role?
Describe teamwork involved?
How many hours a week do you spend on this activity?
Why did you get involved in this activity?

  • STRENGTHS IN PHILANTHROP
  • DEPTH OF INVOLVEMENT IN PHILANTHROPY
  • LEADERSHIP IN PHILANTHROPY

Other

International or diversity components of your background
Describe the strength of your recommendations
Describe a challenging leadership experience?
How have you demonstrated that you are innovative?
What is your best teamwork experience?
What is your most challenging teamwork experience?
If you are under 30, describe what makes you mature despite your young age?

Now, tell me, WHY YOU? WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU (in order)

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If you have MBA admissions questions, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or email us a question for this blog to timeout@veritasprep.com. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Jane is a Veritas Prep Admissions Consultant for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Before going to Dartmouth, Courtney graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science.  After 20 years in business with positions at Young & Rubicam, Disney, Americorp Funding and Merrill Lynch, Courtney currently works as a business undergraduate Professor at the Los Angeles Film School and Argosy University.  

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