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Marketing Education Review

ISSN: 1052-8008 (Print) 2153-9987 (Online) Journal homepage:

Inside Out Personal Branding (IOPB): Using Gallup

Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 and 360Reach

Paul S. Busch & Scott W. Davis

To cite this article: Paul S. Busch & Scott W. Davis (2017): Inside Out Personal Branding (IOPB):
Using Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 and 360Reach, Marketing Education Review, DOI:

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Published online: 08 Sep 2017.

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Download by: [Australian Catholic University] Date: 09 September 2017, At: 15:31
Paul S. Buscha and Scott W. Davisb,*
Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA; bJones Graduate School of Business, Rice
University, Houston, TX, USA

A personal brand is an individual’s reputation and unique image, which can be a crucial differen-
tiator in today’s hypercompetitive job market. This article’s two main objectives are: to present an
evidence-based approach to developing the self-awareness component of a personal brand, and to
analyze the impact of the assignment on student learning outcomes. The Gallup Clifton
StrengthsFinder 2.0, which provides an inside (or internal) assessment, is used in conjunction with
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360Reach, which provides an outside (or external) assessment, to guide marketing students through
an inside-out approach to developing their personal brand (IOPB). Students report that the assign-
ment helps them understand their talents, improve self-awareness, and prepare them for their job
search and career planning.

this concept has been applied in classroom settings. We

We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: then discuss a new approach for an assignment we refer to
If you’ve got ambition and smarts, you can rise to
the top of your chosen profession, regardless of as inside-out personal branding (IOPB), which is designed
where you started out. But with opportunity to help students leverage the benefits of understanding
comes responsibility. Companies today aren’t and creating their personal brand.
managing their employee’s careers; knowledge We organize the article as follows. First, we summarize
workers must, effectively, be their own chief
key takeaways from branding literature and review other
executive officers. It’s up to you to carve out
your place, to know when to change course, and personal branding assignments that informed the IOPB.
to keep yourself engaged and productive during a Second, we present an overview of the IOPB assignment.
work life that may span some 50 years. To do Third, we detail student evaluations of the assignment and
those things well, you’ll need to cultivate a deep analyze the implications. We conclude with a discussion
understanding of yourself—not only what your
strengths and weaknesses are but also how you of results, an acknowledgment of the study’s limitations,
learn, how you work with others, what your and opportunities for future research.
values are, and where you can make the greatest In this research, we had undergraduate business stu-
contribution. Because only when you operate dents and graduate-level students in a marketing leader-
from strengths can you achieve true excellence.
ship course engage in this personal branding exercise. As a
(Drucker, 2005, p. 5)
result of completing the IOPB assignment, students were
In this passage, Drucker articulates why developing self- better able to articulate their unique strengths and talents
awareness is so important to an individual’s success. We in their resumes by using language from both the Clifton
assert that true self-awareness is the foundation for creat- StrengthsFinder and 360Reach. This deeper self-under-
ing a personal brand. But what exactly is personal brand- standing also helps students improve personal and profes-
ing? In this article, we review the literature to better sional relationships and portray themselves more
understand how personal branding is defined and how effectively during interviews and in their social-media pro-
files. These outcomes are evident in follow-up surveys with
students who completed the IOPB assignment.
Address correspondence to Paul S. Busch, Mays Business
School, Texas A&M University, 215E Wehner Building, 4112
TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4112. Email: pbusch@- LITERATURE REVIEW
*Current affiliation: Marilyn Davies College of Business, The concept of personal branding was first discussed by
University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX, USA Erving Goffman (1959) in his book The Presentation of Self

Marketing Education Review, vol. 00, no. 00 (2017), pp. 1–16.

Copyright Ó 2017 Society for Marketing Advances
ISSN: 1052–8008 (print) / ISSN 2153–9987 (online)
2 Marketing Education Review

in Everyday Life (see also Khedher, 2014). Peters, who is Rational brand attributes are the table stakes that get
credited with coining the term “personal branding,” con- you into the game. . . . The challenge is usually
tends that the development of a personal brand is compar- many people meet these minimum requirements.
It’s a competitive world, and whether you’re seeking
able to a company branding and marketing its products. a job, a promotion, or a new client, relying on your
“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in rational brand attributes would be a failed strategy.
business today, our most important job is to be head mar- Emotional brand attributes . . . are those traits that
keter for the brand called You” (Peters, 1997, p. 4). get people excited about you. They are your person-
ality characteristics and life experiences. You layer
Rampersad (2008) states that “your personal brand is them on top of the rational brand attributes and use
the synthesis of all expectations, images, and percep- them to make emotional connections with those
tions it creates in the minds of others, when they see or who are making decisions about you. Together,
hear your name” (p. 34). Horton (2011) equates perso- your emotional and rational brand attributes speak
to your unique promise of value.
nal branding with one’s professional story.
Effective and credible personal brands, just like the The personality traits associated with a branded pro-
best corporate brands, are built from the inside out. As duct, and with an individual’s personal brand, are
Arruda (2002) asserts, “personal branding is not about
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formed during a period of time through numerous

building a special image for the outside world; it is interactions and experiences. Consequently, brand per-
about understanding your unique combination of sonality tends to be enduring and distinct.
rational and emotional attributes—your strengths, skills,
values and passions—and using these attributes to differ-
Establishing the Human Brand
entiate yourself and guide your career decisions” (para. 2).
Therefore, the first step in creating a personal brand Close et al.’s (2011) research on brand cues and how
is to understand one’s unique combination of attri- they influence the entry-level placement of marketing
butes, which determines the value one brings to a doctoral graduates suggests that “the previous research
company or project. A strong personal brand differenti- on branding and quality perceptions of new product
ates a person in a way that clearly frames and commu- brands appears to generalize to human brands” (p.
nicates this value. The focal point of the IOPB 935). Just as consumers rely on brand attributes and
assignment is the self-awareness component, which cues to help them determine product quality, inter-
lays the foundation for and initiates the process of viewers often determine an applicant’s quality based
creating an authentic and relevant personal brand. on first impressions. In addition, just as consumers
judge a brand based on intrinsic and extrinsic cues, so
Branding Literature do interviewers with respect to candidates. Intrinsic
cues provide direct evidence of a candidate’s quality,
Dimensions of Brand Personality and extrinsic cues provide indirect evidence. An inter-
viewer may consider intrinsic cues, such as an appli-
There are several aspects of brand personality and
cant’s grade-point average and leadership roles held,
personal branding that inform each other. In her semi-
and extrinsic cues, such as the reputation of the appli-
nal article, Aaker (1997) defines brand personality as
cant’s alma mater and previous employers. To market
“the set of human characteristics associated with a
themselves as a high-quality brand, job applicants need
brand” (p. 347). In this view, brand personality takes
to be aware of how they express their intrinsic and
the human as its starting point and then attributes
extrinsic cues. In other words, these internal and exter-
these characteristics to a product. In contrast, personal
nal cues communicate a candidate’s quality and “shape
branding starts with the concepts of product branding
the candidate’s brand image” (Close, 2011, p. 924).
and applies that framework back to the individual.
Brand personality emphasizes the brand’s symbolic
meaning rather than its utilitarian or functional value Brand Mantra
(Aaker, 1997). Arruda (as cited in Chritton, 2014, p. 75)
The work of Keller (1999) on brand mantras is highly
contends that for personal brands, personality attributes
relevant to personal branding: “A brand mantra [is a] short
can be divided into two categories—rational and
three to five word phrase that captures the irrefutable
2017 3

essence or spirit of the brand positioning” (p. 45). Keller detailed guidance on how to establish an online iden-
maintains that a company needs to manage its brand both tity, create and promote content, and monitor one’s
internally and externally. Likewise, the IOPB assignment personal brand.
requires an individual to conduct a self, or internal, assess- Edmiston’s (2016) work provides additional knowl-
ment using StrengthsFinder, and an external assessment edge and skills using social media. The “Perfect Pitch”
using 360Reach. A brand mantra has three components: assignment requires students to develop and post a one-
emotional modifier, descriptive modifier, and brand func- minute video to YouTube to share with potential
tions (Keller, 1999, p. 48). Consider the two examples employers. Edmiston’s (2016) assignment helps stu-
below. dents realize that marketing concepts and tools can be
The resulting brand mantras would read: “Disney is applied to products and to themselves, which enhances
fun, family entertainment” and “Grace is an affirma- their appreciation of marketing’s value and power (p. 4).
tive, responsible servant leader.” The demonstrated success of these assignments pro-
The work of Aaker (1997) on brand personality, vided motivation for our IOPB approach. This literature
Close, Moulard, and Monroe (2011) on humans as review reveals a need for increased experiential learning
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brands, and Keller (1999) on brand mantras informs activities as instructors transition from a teaching to a
our understanding of how these traditional concepts learning approach. These assignments inform students
in branding apply to the personal brand. Now we that personal branding is an ongoing and dynamic
turn our attention to the recent research on personal process that does not end with the semester.
branding assignments that have been used in collegiate
Recent Research on Personal Branding
Assignments The Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 and
Recent research has detailed how to implement various
personal branding assignments and has showcased the The inspiration for the IOPB assignment comes from
efficacy of these approaches. Details of these assign- William Arruda, who Entrepreneur magazine identified
ments can be found in Table 1, which discusses the as “the personal branding guru” (Tice, 2007), and who
objectives and components of personal branding has recognized the significant value in combining
assignments, as well as their findings. 360Reach and StrengthsFinder (Arruda, 2010). When
Smith (2004) emphasizes the importance of identify- used in combination, these two assessments offer a
ing a target market—that is, the industries and compa- comprehensive understanding of one’s internal
nies to which the student wants to apply. The most strengths and external image as inputs for one’s perso-
relevant personal branding finding was that students nal brand.
learned about themselves and defined their career goals Arruda’s company, Reach Communications, uses
while improving written communication and critical- 360Reach as a tool to help employees enhance the
thinking skills. value they bring to their company. 360Reach is a
Stanton and Stanton’s (2013) work directly influ- “web-based personal brand assessment that enables
enced the IOPB assignment by providing a structure career-minded employees to get the real story about
for a personal branding statement that includes (1) a how they are perceived by those around them” (Reach
value proposition, (2) differentiation, and (3) a target Personal Branding, 2016, para. 1).
market. This structure helped students articulate what StrengthsFinder helps students discover “their
they bring to an employer and what sets them apart. unique combination of strengths” (
Edmiston’s (2014) Professional Online Presence by distilling their top-five
(POP) assignment focuses on using students’ personal strengths. Tomkovick and Swanson’s (2014) research
portfolios to communicate their personal brand provides an excellent analysis of the relationship
through social media. A significant contribution of between StrengthsFinder results and marketing stu-
Edmiston’s (2014) 10-step approach is providing dents’ success in the workplace.
4 Marketing Education Review

Table 1
Literature Review: Recent Research on Personal Branding Assignments

Assignment Course Details

Author Objectives Assignment Components (Level, Title) Findings

Smith (2004) 1. Develop writing 1. Executive summary ● Undergraduate Students report the project helped
and critical-thinking 2. Situation analysis ● Principles of them learn about themselves
skills 3. Target market marketing and define career goals. The
2. Help in the job- 4. Goal setting assignment was effective for
search process 5. Apply the four Ps to personal helping students to apply
3. Enhance learning in branding written communications and
large classes critical-thinking skills.
4. Improve the useful-
ness of the
Principles of
Marketing for
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majors and non-

Stanton and Stanton 1. Gain an under- 1. Develop a personal situation ● Undergraduate Students found the assignment
(2013) standing of brand- analysis ● Principles of challenging but rewarding.
ing applied to self 2. Write a one-sentence brand marketing Students report it forced them
2. Link personal brand statement to think about themselves and
to product life cycle 3. Post brand statements to course their career goals.
3. Identify target mar- discussion board
ket/industry 4. Offer peer feedback on personal
4. Identify needs of brand statements
hiring employers
5. Identify brand
6. Develop unique
selling points
Edmiston (2014) Extend students’ 1. Establish an online identity ● Undergraduate Students report better
professional 2. Create social media accounts with ● Essentials of understanding of personal
portfolio to create a personalized URLs selling branding and their social media
professional online 3. Develop content skills. Students realized that
presence (POP), 4. Promote your brand name and personal branding was an
including: online presence ongoing and dynamic process
1. Personal mission 5. Promote your content that did not end with the
statement 6. Actively network semester.
2. Resume 7. Monitor your brand
3. Work samples 8. Measure your online “klout” score
9. Engage your audience
10. Manage your brand presence
Edmiston (2016) To understand: 1. Develop a personal brand promise ● Undergraduate Students crafted a pitch video to
2. Reflect on specific characteristics ● Strategic digi- share with potential employers.
1. The definition of
that define/reinforce their personal tal media They achieved a greater
brand understanding of their
2. The concept of per-
3. Refine the personal brand points professional value and
sonal branding
and begin development of video increased self-confidence.
3. How to develop a
personal brand
4. Create videos and upload to
4. How to use social
5. Publish and share videos
media to develop a
positive impression
in the mind of
2017 5

For the IOPB assignment, students first complete the survey. The survey items were derived from the mar-
StrengthsFinder self-assessment. The result is a perso- keting education literature on personal branding
nalized list and description of the participant’s top-five and from the authors’ experience in teaching perso-
strengths. Students then use the 360Reach tool to ver- nal branding. Specific survey items were drawn from
ify those strengths from an external point of view. The Smith (2004), Stanton and Stanton (2013), Edmiston
360Reach assessment is sent to individuals who know (2014), and Edmiston (2016). Based on seven years’
the target person very well (e.g., family, close friends, experience in working with students on personal
supervisors, and coworkers). These responses give branding assignments, the authors were interested
insight into how this person is perceived by others. in student learning outcomes related to improving
Taken together, these two inputs form the basis of the self-awareness, the practical benefits of the assign-
IOPB assignment (see Appendix A). ment, and students’ expectations of the amount of
time required to complete the assignment, as well as
The Personal Branding Statement the actual time spent completing the assignment.
Because we combined scales from multiple works
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The IOPB assignment’s major deliverable is the creation and added our own scales, we used exploratory and
of a personal branding statement, which includes: confirmatory factor analysis to test and validate the
factor structure for our sample. Students’ responses
1. Value/benefits
were captured three ways: (1) open-ended questions,
2. Differentiation
(2) five-point Likert scale questions (1 = strongly dis-
3. Target market
agree, and 5 = strongly agree), and (3) other closed-
The following is an example of a personal branding ended questions. Other closed-ended questions
statement from a former student, Grace (this student’s address items such as how students plan to use the
name has been changed here to protect anonymity). personal branding information (e.g., in cover letters,
in resumes). We report this survey data in the fol-
● Value/benefits: Grace is a motivated individual lowing subsections. For the Likert questions and
who efficiently manages a team, taking owner- results, see Table 2.
ship of her responsibilities and exceeding expec-
tations using her leadership and analytic skills.
Exploratory Factor Analysis
Her hard work, knowledge, communication
skills, problem-solving skills, and creativity are We conducted a principal component analysis with
unmatched. She uses her strategic and decision- an oblique (Oblimin) rotation to empirically group
making skills to achieve success for her client the survey items into related factors. Factors were
projects. consistent between the two student groups accord-
● Differentiation: Grace is a leader who capitalizes on ing to independent analyses, so we combined the
specific team strengths to achieve project success. data sets to consider common questionnaire items
Her dedication to work, quest for learning, and from all 108 completed surveys. Three extracted fac-
ability to build strong relationships is unique. Her tors accounted for 53% of total variance and met the
capacity to relate to others helps her build strong criterion of having eigenvalues greater than 1. We
and successful teams, and her positive attitude is removed one survey item from the analysis (“The
an inspiration to others. assignment increased my overall self-confidence”),
● Target market: Digital marketing agency which cross-loaded on multiple factors (>.40). All
14 remaining Likert scale survey items loaded at
EVALUATION AND ASSESSMENT values greater than .50 on at least one factor, and 9
loaded at values greater than .60 (see Table 3 for the
After completing the IOPB assignment, 35 students rotated factor loadings [correlations] of the three
from a Master of Science (MS) marketing leadership extracted dimensions). Cronbach’s alphas for each
course and 81 students from an undergraduate (UG) factor exceeded .70, indicating high internal consis-
freshman business course assessed the assignment’s tencies. Conceptually, the three factors approximate
effectiveness through a 31-question online Qualtrics the broader issues we set out to study: Branding and
6 Marketing Education Review

Table 2
IOPB Survey: MS Marketing and Undergraduate Business Students Post Assignment Survey

Strongly Disagree Neither Agree nor Agree Strongly Number of

Number Statement Disagree (1) (2) Disagree (3) (4) Agree (5) Responses Mean

Branding and Self

1 I would recommend the 360Reach 0 0 3(9) 13(41) 16(50) 32 4.41
assessment to others. 0 3(4) 3(4) 27(34) 47(59) 80 4.48
2 This assignment helped me become 0 0 2(6) 19(59) 11(34) 32 4.28
more self-aware. 0 2(3) 1(1) 38(48) 39(49) 80 4.43
3 I gained new knowledge about myself. 0 1(3) 1(3) 11(34) 19(59) 32 4.5
0 0 6(8) 24(30) 50(63) 80 4.55
4 This assignment helped me fully 0 0 2(6) 18(56) 12(38) 32 4.31
understand the concept of personal 1(1) 3(4) 11(14) 37(46) 28(35) 80 4.10
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5 The assignment enhanced the 0 0 3(10) 17(55) 11(35) 31 4.26
vocabulary that I can use to describe 3(4) 4(5) 12(15) 39(49) 21(27) 79 3.90
myself to others.
6 This assignment helped me determine 0 2(6) 6(19) 17(55) 6(19) 31 3.87
what I need to do to improve my 1(1) 1(1) 7(9) 55(69) 16(20) 80 4.05
personal brand.
7 This assignment helped me gain a 1 (3) 0 0 16(50) 15(47) 32 4.38
better understanding of my 4(5) 3(4) 1(1) 28(35) 45(56) 81 4.32
personal strengths.
Practical Benefit
8 I plan to modify my resume and/or 0 2(6) 3(10) 15(48) 11(35) 31 4.13
cover letter based on what I learned 3(4) 4(5) 12(15) 39(49) 9(11) 80 3.60
from the Personal Branding
9 This assignment has proven beneficial 0 0 9(29) 12(39) 10(32) 31 4.03
in my PERSONAL life. 2(3) 5(6) 17(22) 42(55) 11(14) 77 3.71
10 This assignment has proven beneficial 0 0 4(14) 15(52) 10(34) 29 4.21
in my PROFESSIONAL life. 0 2(3) 25(33) 35(46) 14(18) 76 3.80
11 Developing a personal branding 1(3) 4(13) 7(23) 12(39) 7(23) 31 3.65
statement made me feel more self- 2(3) 5(6) 25(31) 39(49) 9(11) 80 3.60
assured about applying for an
12 I would recommend the 0 0 0 9(28) 23(72) 32 4.72
StrengthsFinder assessment to 1(1) 4(5) 9(11) 36(45) 30(38) 80 4.13
Time Expectations
13 This assignment took more time than I 2(6) 14(42) 7(21) 9(27) 1(3) 33 2.79
expected. 1(1) 35(44) 15(19) 20(25) 9(11) 80 3.01
14 This assignment took less time than I 1(3) 13(39) 8(24) 10(30) 1(3) 33 2.91
expected. 9(11) 30(38) 15(19) 24(30) 1(1) 79 2.72

Notes: The MS Marketing students are on the top line and undergraduate business students are on the bottom line. The numbers in parentheses
are percentages.
2017 7

Table 3
Rotated Factor Pattern for Survey Items

Survey Item Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3

I would recommend the 360Reach assessment to others. (Q13) .752

This assignment helped me become more self-aware. (Q7) .747
I gained new knowledge about myself. (Q6) .718
This assignment helped me fully understand the concept of personal branding. (Q5) .706
The assignment enhanced the vocabulary that I can use to describe myself to others. (Q30) .658
This assignment helped me determine what I need to do to improve my personal brand. (Q27) .549
This assignment helped me gain a better understanding of my personal strengths. (Q3) .549
I plan to modify my resume and/or cover letter based on what I learned from the Personal Branding .770
assignment. (Q29)
This assignment has proven beneficial in my PERSONAL life. (Q23) .744
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This assignment has proven beneficial in my PROFESSIONAL life. (Q25) .700

Developing a personal branding statement made me feel more self-assured about applying for an .620
internship. (Q19)
I would recommend the StrengthsFinder assessment to others. (Q12) .561
This assignment took more time than I expected. (Q9) .893
This assignment took less time than I expected. (Q10) .890

Table 4
Confirmatory Factor Analysis Summary

χ2 χ 2 df χ 2 p value Goodness of Fit (RMSEA/GFI)

1. Single Sample Models

MS Marketing
Baseline Model 207.46 91 <.01
Factor Model 117.58 77 <.01 .13/.66
Δ Baseline - Factor 89.88 14 <.01
Hypothesized Model 104.84 74 .01 .12/.69
Δ Factor - Hypothesized 12.74 3 <.01
Baseline Model 369.93 91 <.01
Factor Model 107.65 77 .01 .07/.85
Δ Baseline - Factor 262.28 14 <.01
Hypothesized Model 83.62 74 .21 .04/.87
Δ Factor - Hypothesized 24.03 3 <.01
2. Testing with Both Samples
Invariant Model 259.75 179 <.01 .09/.78
Lambda Model 233.66 165 <.01 .09/.80

(Continued )
8 Marketing Education Review

Table 4

χ2 χ 2 df χ 2 p value Goodness of Fit (RMSEA/GFI)

Δ Invariant - Lambda 26.09 14 .03

3. Testing Individual Paths Across Groups
Phi 1 2 259.48 178 <.01 .09/.79
Δ Invariant – Phi 1 2 .27 1 .60
Phi 2 3 252.67 178 .29 .09/.79
Δ Invariant – Phi 1 3 7.08 1 <.01
Phi 1 3 257.75 178 .29 .09/.79
Δ Invariant – Phi 2 3 2.0 1 .16
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Self (seven items; α = .79), Practical Benefit (five Practical Benefit

items; α = .73), and Time Expectations (two items;
α = .76). A majority of students reported the immediate pro-
fessional (MS: 86%; UG: 64%) and personal (MS: 71%;
UG: 69%) benefits of this assignment (see Table 2). One
Branding and Self student noted that the assignment helped his project
Ninety-three percent of the MS respondents and group in the course grow closer together. Another stu-
97% of the UG respondents indicated that the dent felt that the assignment helped him in another
assignment helped them become more self-aware class, where he was a peer leader for UG students, not-
(see Table 2). For both the MS and the UG students, ing that his students even commented about his
93% agreed or strongly agreed that they learned new increased confidence. One MS student reflected on his
knowledge about themselves, and 97% of the MS overall experience with the personal branding assign-
students and 91% of the UG students agreed or ment as follows: “I was able to grasp a better under-
strongly agreed that this assignment helped them standing of my strengths and weaknesses. It has
gain a better understanding of their personal impacted my relationships and has given me insight
strengths. The enhanced self-perceptions gained into why I am the way I am. Knowing my personal
from the exercise created actionable knowledge. strengths has given me confidence when approaching
After completing the assignment, 90% of the MS a job or internship.”
respondents and 76% of the UG respondents agreed Eighty-three percent of the MS respondents and 60%
that it enhanced their vocabulary to describe them- of the UG respondents planned to modify their resume
selves accurately to others. and/or cover letter based on what they had learned in
Seventy-four percent of the MS students and 89% of the assignment. From a job-seeking perspective, 62% of
the UG students reported that the assignment helped the MS respondents and 60% of the UG respondents
them determine what they needed to do to improve reported that the assignment made them feel more self-
their personal brand. From a curriculum standpoint, assured about applying for an internship. Willingness
94% of the MS students and 81% of the UG students to recommend StrengthsFinder, in particular, also cor-
reported that this assignment helped them more fully related to the practical benefit factor, suggesting that
understand the concept of personal branding. The students realized a significant benefit from their
branding and self-factor corresponded with students’ enhanced self-perceptions and clear, actionable bene-
willingness to recommend the 360Reach assessment. fits that resulted from this activity. All the MS students
In terms of action or intended action, 91% of the MS and 83% of the UG students reported that they would
students and 93% of the UG students indicated that recommend the assessment. As one student observed,
they would recommend the assessment. “I used to think certain characteristics about myself
2017 9

were negative, but now I know how to tailor them into

Figure 1B
strengths.” Another student remarked that “the more I Undergraduate Time Demand
learn about myself, the easier it is to decide whether or
not I would enjoy a particular job.”
UG Time Demand
Time Expectations Register at
Gallup and take
Thirty percent of the MS respondents and 36% of online survey
statement and
(37.34 min)
the UG respondents thought that this assignment took assignment
write-up (64.07
more time than they expected (see Table 2). Thirty- min)
three percent of the MS students and 31% of the UG 34%
Register at 360
students thought that this assignment took less time Reach and
than they expected. develop
respondent list
Manage 360 (40.53 min)
Reach emails
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Time Demand (46.61 min)
Respondents recorded how much time they actu-
ally spent on the IOPB, in minutes, on the four major
tasks of the assignment. We present the results in time spent on each component of the exercise revealed
Figures 1A. and 1B, which show the average time that time spent on writing the personal branding state-
spent on each task by students and the percentage ment largely drove the overall time difference. The MS
of total assignment time spent on each task. students dedicated considerably more time to this part of
There were notable differences in time spent on the the assignment, MMS = 104.2, MUG = 64.07; t(149) = –4.4,
assignment between the UG and MS students. Overall, p < .001.
the MS students spent significantly more time working
on the personal branding assignment, MMS = 248.7,
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
MUG = 188.5; t(151) = – 4.09, p < .001. This differential
effort may be indicative of greater personal relevance for To further assess our factor structure, we conducted
the MS students, who were more likely to be actively Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) using the Covariance
engaged in a job search. Further decomposition of the Analysis of Linear Structural Equations (CALIS) procedure
in SAS. All tests were conducted in accordance with Jones-
Farmer et al.’s (2008) note on multigroup comparisons,
Figure 1A and results are shown in Table 4. We posited in our
MS Time Demand
exploratory factor analysis that our survey items are repre-
sented by three latent constructs: Branding and self, prac-
tical benefit, and time demand. Using a chi-square
MS Time Demand Register at difference test, we compared a baseline independence
Gallup and take
model with no latent variables to our proposed factor
online survey
Personal (42.63 min) model. We compared the fit of the two models for the
branding 17% MS (baseline χ 2 – factor model χ 2 = 89.88; baseline df –
statement and
Register at 360 factor df = 14; p < .01) and UG (baseline χ 2 – factor model
Reach and
write-up (104.20 χ 2 = 262.28; baseline df – factor df = 14; p < .01) groups, and
min) rejected the null hypothesis that the observed data have
respondent list
(43.03 min) no latent variables. Our factor model fits the data better
Manage 360 than an independent model. We next tested a model with
Reach emails correlated latent variables to assess our oblique rotation
(58.89 min)
and found evidence that the rotated model improved fit
for the MS (factor model χ 2 – oblique rotated model
10 Marketing Education Review

Figure 2
Path Diagram of Baseline Confirmatory Analysis Model
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χ 2 = 12.74; factor model df – oblique rotated model df = 3; education and nearer to their transition to the working
p < .01) and UG (factor model χ 2 – oblique rotated model world, realized greater benefit from the activity than
χ 2 = 24.03; factor model df – oblique rotated model df = 3; the UG students. Overall, the MS students answered
p < .01) groups. See Figure 2 for a path diagram of the more favorably on questions involving professional
rotated factor model. Goodness of fit was moderate overall benefits, which is intuitive given their place in the
(RMSEA = .06) and good for the larger sample of UG career life cycle. The MS students also reported greater
students (RMSEA = .04). We tested the lambda matrices increases in self-confidence than the UG students,
to determine whether the factor loadings varied between MMS = 4.16, MUG = 3.63; t(109) = 2.94, p < .01. The
groups and found a significant difference (invariant model salience of confidence related to job search for MS
χ 2 – lambda model χ 2 = 26.09; invariant df – lambda students may explain this difference. The MS students
df = 14; p = .03). also reported greater benefit in their professional lives,
MMS = 4.29, MUG = 3.89; t(108) = 2.3, p < .03, and a
greater likelihood of updating their cover letter and/or
Group Differences
resume, MMS = 4.16, MUG = 3.65; t(110) = 2.56, p < .02.
While the survey items for the MS and UG students Finally, the MS students observed a marginally greater
consistently loaded among the same conceptual group- increase in self-descriptive vocabulary than the UG stu-
ings, we note some revealing differences within indivi- dents, MMS = 4.28, MUG = 3.93; t(110) = 1.86, p = .065.
dual questions. We tested our two independent student
samples to see if there were any significant differences DISCUSSION, LIMITATIONS, AND FUTURE
between the MS students and the UG students, using t RESEARCH
tests with the pooled standard error method. While
both groups were enthusiastic about recommending Discussion
StrengthsFinder, the MS students were significantly
more willing to recommend the assessment, The IOPB assignment provides students with an oppor-
MMS = 4.73, MUG = 4.14; t(112) = 3.62, p < .001. tunity for a deep and objective self-awareness assess-
Perhaps the MS students, further along in their ment. This is a critical first step in developing both
2017 11

professionally and personally in a manner consistent Understanding time demands becomes especially impor-
with one’s natural talents and values. tant for topics related to personal growth and develop-
ment versus traditional course content. Knowing the
Internal and External Inputs time an assignment requires is useful because it facilitates
instructors’ planning with respect to the course type and
This is the first personal branding assignment in the whether the IOPB assignment should be used in a tradi-
marketing education literature that uses the inputs of tional marketing class, or in a career-development or
both StrengthsFinder and 360Reach. These inputs are personal-growth course.
valuable because they provide students with objective
information about their strengths and how they are Time Demands on the Instructor
perceived by others. More importantly, this informa-
tion helps students to communicate in job interviews The instructor’s time commitment falls into two
and look for the best fit between their strengths, skills, categories: presenting and grading the assignment.
and values relative to specific job opportunities. The assignment requires approximately two hours of
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Knowledge of this fit is valuable in choosing that first class time to present and discuss deliverables and
job, as well as in long-term career planning. expectations, as well as introducing the
StrengthsFinder and 360Reach online tools. As with
any assignment, grading is a time-consuming compo-
Branding as a Process
nent. Because this type of assignment is conducive to
A major insight gleaned from having worked with personal (vs. professional) growth and is, in and of
different students throughout several years is under- itself, beneficial for the student, a pass/fail grading
standing the students’ learning processes, which occur approach is recommended. This drastically reduces
as students complete the IOPB assignment. The IOPB the grading time commitments.
post-assignment survey is designed to capture this
learning process by asking questions such as: Personal Branding for Undergraduate Versus Graduate
● To what extent did it increase your self-awareness? Students
● What did you learn about what needs to be done
The graduate students in this study reported more
to develop your personal brand?
time spent on the assessment, a stronger self-confi-
● How are you going to use this information in the
dence boost, more professional benefits, and a greater
likelihood to recommend the activity. Prior research
● What changes have you made to your cover letter,
shows that graduate students tend to show higher
resume, or social media profile?
levels of intrinsic motivation than undergraduates
The key point here is to evaluate the assignment in (Rovai, Ponton, Wighting, & Baker, 2007), and may,
terms of not only the deliverables or outputs, such as therefore, be driven toward self-evaluative rewards such
the personal branding statement, but also two addi- as those associated with personal branding. Graduate
tional items: (1) the learning process students go students, furthermore, are more likely to be planning
through, and (2) the cognitive and behavioral changes and participating in careers. Undergraduate students
students make resulting from the assignment, such as may benefit from personal branding assessment nearer
increased self-confidence and edits to resumes and to graduation or as a repeated exercise.
social media.
Limitations and Future Research
Time Demands on the Students
The study has several limitations. This research was con-
Another contribution is capturing the time it takes for ducted at only one university business school in the
the students to complete the project. This is significant southwestern United States with a limited sample size.
because instructors should strive to understand the time Future studies can incorporate larger sample sizes across
demands placed on students for course assignments. multiple universities. In this study, assessment of the
12 Marketing Education Review

assignment’s effectiveness was done in the short term; helps us as instructors to build rapport when we
that is, two weeks after the assignment. Future studies share our own IOPB assignment results with our stu-
could asses the assignment’s impact after a longer per- dents. Finally, it is our sincere hope that our market-
iod, such as six months or a year. Using pre- and post- ing colleagues find merit in the IOPB assignment and
assessments to measure the assignment’s impact is give it a try with their students. If you do, we are
another improvement. This study relied on self-reported here happy to assist you in any way we can.
survey data to assess the assignment’s effectiveness.
Behavioral studies, perhaps observing the self-descrip- REFLECTION
tive vocabulary used in student resumes before and after
the assignment, may provide further insights. Future There are three things that are extremely hard:
experimentation that randomly assigns students as par- steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self. —
ticipants or non-participants in this assignment may be Benjamin Franklin
revealing when comparing outcomes such as students’ The IOPB assignment is rewarding for us as instructors
satisfaction with job interviews, self-confidence during because when we share our StrengthsFinder and
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the job-search process, and efforts to improve resumes 360Reach results with our students, we enjoy deeper
and social-media profiles. and richer communication. By discussing what
To increase the benefits of the IOPB assignment, a strengths, brand skills, and attributes we have in com-
peer review of personal branding statements could be mon, how we use them on a daily basis, and what we
completed. In Stanton and Stanton’s (2013) research, a can do to develop them, we have a new way of under-
peer review helped students in at least two ways. First, standing one another. This builds trust and mutual
students learned from each other on how to improve respect. The additional time and effort on this assign-
their personal brand. Second, students realized that ment is well spent because it helps the instructor con-
they had to not only communicate their unique nect with students in a meaningful way.
brand but also position themselves against their peers An assignment of this nature also lends itself to
who were competing for the same jobs. Thus, students animated discussions and feedback sessions with the
deepened their understanding of just how competitive instructor regarding the outcomes and insights it
the job market truly is. reveals. It is especially gratifying when students inform
In summary, the IOPB assignment appears to pro- us that they have used the assignment in their jobs/
vide significant benefits to students. It is a major internships or have encouraged friends and family to
resource for improving self-awareness. do the StrengthsFinder and/or 360Reach assessment.
StrengthsFinder and 360Reach provide objective As Peters (1997) straightforwardly states: “You are a
information that helps form a more accurate and brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single
functional understanding of oneself. Talking about path to success. And there is no one right way to create the
oneself in an effective and meaningful way is often brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else”(p. 87).
a daunting task. Those who complete the IOPB
assignment can develop a vocabulary about them-
selves to communicate during interviews, on
resumes, and in social media. As students assume The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance and
the role of job seekers, this vocabulary helps to ease encouragement in this research of the following indivi-
the stress of interviewing by enhancing their perfor- duals: Jordan Kleckley, Dana Jamous, Kalyn Speck, Taylor
mance and satisfaction with the job-search process. Tondre, Kaitlin Burroughs, Kendall Lindsey, Caelan
This research indicates that when during a student’s Cheshire, and Alyssa Osterhout. The authors are espe-
education the assignment is completed may make a cially appreciative of colleagues Steve McDaniel (Texas
difference. Upper-division undergraduates and mas- A&M University), who enthusiastically supports the
ters-level students who are seeking internships or IOPB assignment as a component of his MS-level
full-time employment may find the IOPB most rele- Marketing Leadership course, and Dr. Karen Smith
vant because they can put this information to (Texas State University), who provided thoughtful com-
immediate use. Experience has shown that the IOPB ments and insights on an earlier draft of this article.
2017 13

REFERENCES Stanton, A., & Stanton, W. (2013). Building ‘Brand Me’:

Creating a personal brand statement. Marketing
Aaker, J. L. (1997, August). Dimensions of brand personality. Education Review, 23(1), 81–85. doi:10.2753/MER1052-
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doi:10.2307/3151897 Tice, C. (2007). What’s in a name? Take control of what the
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c o m / r e a c h d o t c o m . n s f / r e l a t e d l i n k s / 9C 0 4 B D 1 7 5 StrengthsFinder to identify relationships between mar-
D15E94AC1256C4A007ADF0B?OpenDocument# keting graduate strengths and career outcomes.
Arruda, W. (2010, May 18). Personal branding: StrengthsFinder Marketing Education Review, 24(3), 197–212.
and 360Reach. Retrieved from doi:10.2753/mer1052-8008240302
Chritton, S. (2014). Personal branding for dummies. Hoboken,
NJ: Wiley.
Close, A. G., Moulard, J. G., & Monroe, K. B. (2011, October
8). Establishing human brands: Determinants of place-
ment success for first faculty positions in marketing.
Students are given the following prompt at the start of
Journal of the Academic Mark Sciences Journal of the the assignment:
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Academy of Marketing Science, 39(6), 922–941.

By using the time-tested tools of StrengthsFinder and
Drucker, P. (2005, January). Managing oneself. Harvard busi- 360Reach, this assignment is designed to enhance your
ness review, pp. 1–15. self-awareness. This step-by-step assignment requires
Edmiston, D. (2014). Creating a personal competitive advan- you to analyze internal and external feedback to help
tage by developing a professional online presence. you develop an understanding of your personal brand.
Marketing Education Review, 24(1), 21–24. doi:10.2753/
MER1052-8008240103 Criteria: All papers will be evaluated on the following:
Edmiston, D. (2016). Developing the perfect pitch: Creating a
positive first impression through social media. Marketing ● Clarity: Your ability to provide information through
Education Review, 26(1), 3–7. doi:10.1080/ error-free written communication (i.e., typos, mis-
spellings, fragments, or punctuation errors)
Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New
York: Anchor Books. ● 12-point font, double-spaced, one-inch margins
Horton, T. (2011, August 19). Branded for success. Retrieved ● Content: Your thoughts should be clearly commu-
from nicated and express what you learned
TD-Archive/2011/08/Branded-for-Success ● Time: YOUR PAPER WILL BE DUE ON
Jones-Farmer, L. A., Pitts, J. P., & Rainer, R. K. (2008). A note
on multigroup comparisons using SAS PROC CALIS. OCTOBER 1, 2015
Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, ● Send electronically to _______ via email at
15(1), 154–173. doi:10.1080/10705510701758414 __________ AND. . .
Keller, K. L. (1999). Brand mantras: Rationale, criteria and ● Provide a hard copy by 4:00 p.m. outside professor
examples. Journal of Marketing Management, 15(1–3),
________’s office
43–51. doi:10.1362/026725799784870513
Khedher, M. (2014). Personal branding phenomenon. ● Bring a hard copy of your paper to share in class
Business and Management, 6(2), 29–40. on _______
Peters, T. (1997, August 31). The brand called you. Fast
Company Magazine, pp. 83–87. StrengthsFinder Instructions
Rampersad, H. K. (2008). A new blueprint for powerful and
authentic personal branding. Performance Improvement, The instructions for completing the StrengthsFinder
47(6), 34–37. doi:10.1002/pfi.v47:6 assessment are as follows.
Reach Personal Branding. (2016). 360Reach. Retrieved from 1. Go to the website https://www.gallupstrengths
offerings/360reach/ to purchase an
Rovai, A., Ponton, M., Wighting, M., & Baker, J. (2007). A access code. Scroll down to “Clifton
comparative analysis of student motivation in tradi-
StrengthsFinder” and click “Purchase.” Purchase
tional classroom and E-learning courses. International
Journal on E-Learning, 6(3), 413–432. one access code for the “Top 5 Strengths Access.”
Smith, K. (2004). Implementing the ‘Marketing You’ Project The price for this code should be $9.99. Scroll
in large sections of principles of marketing. Journal of down to the bottom of the page and click
Marketing Education, 26(2), 123–136. doi:10.1177/ “Purchase” (you will be required to pay $9.99).
14 Marketing Education Review

2. Under the “New User,” click “Register Now” to 3. From the tabs at the top of the page, choose “Do
create an account, or if you already have a Gallup This First” and fill out the information about
account, sign in with it now. For new users, fill in yourself. This is the screen where you can perso-
the appropriate information and then click nalize the email that will be sent out to your
“Continue.” The next screen will ask for address respondents. Next to the “Introductory
information followed by payment information. Content,” you can adjust the email to be more
Fill in the appropriate information and then informal or friendly. However, be sure to include
click “Continue” and then “Complete Purchase.” the 15-day deadline, as well as the anonymity of
3. Gallup will send an email with the access code to the responses. When you have completed this
the email you previously provided. Make sure you page, click “Save your changes.” A pop-up box
have at least 35 minutes of uninterrupted time will ask you if all of your information is correct;
to dedicate to this assessment before beginning. click “OK” if so. There should be a yellow strip
(TIP: The assessment has to be completed in one across the top of the page that says “Page Saved”
sitting.) Follow the link provided in the email to if the information saved successfully.
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enter your access code and get started. 4. From the tabs at the top of the page, click
4. The assessment contains 117 questions that you “Complete Self Survey” to see the drop-down
will individually answer. You will have 20 sec- menu from which you will click “Perform Your
onds to answer each question before the next Self Survey.” Perform the assessment yourself to
question appears. get an idea of what your respondents will see
and how long it may take them. If you are unsa-
Once you have completed the assessment, take some
tisfied with the Projective Exercise Questions,
time to review your Top 5 Strengths. Under the
you can return to the previous step to change
“Reports and Tools” column, click on the links to
these. Once you complete your self-survey, click
learn more about your strengths. It is important to
“Save your self survey.” (TIP: These results are
note that these results will continually be available
primarily used to compare your opinion of your-
with your account log-in information.
self with the opinion others have of you.)
360Reach Instructions 5. You are now ready to send the survey to your
The process to complete the 360Reach is explained respondents. From the tabs across the top of the
in the following detailed instructions: page, click “Request Feedback” to see the drop-
down menu. From this menu, roll your mouse
1. Generate a list of respondent email addresses. (TIP:
over “Add respondent to your survey” and click
This list may include coaches, teammates, tea-
“Upload email addresses individually or from a
chers, mentors, supervisors/managers, coworkers,
file.” In the boxes provided, enter in the 20
friends, family members, sorority sisters/fraternity
email addresses you collected in Step 1. Click
brothers, and anyone else who knows you really
“Save your new respondents” once you have
well.) Make sure to include people that know you
entered all of the email addresses.
personally and will provide honest feedback.
6. Send a personal email or text message to your 20
Include at least 20 people on the list. Having this
respondents before sending them the actual sur-
list prepared before accessing the 360Reach web-
vey to let them know that they will be receiving
site will help this process run much smoother.
an email from 360Reach in the next few days.
2. Go to the website
Ask them to take about 10 minutes out of their
360V4register to register for a free 15-day trial.
day to complete the assessment and give them a
Enter your email address in the box and click on
timeframe within the 15-day trial to complete it.
“register to proceed.” You will be asked if you
This is an important step because it ensures that
want to change your password. Once you have
they know to open the email when it comes,
done that, log-in with your information. (TIP:
otherwise many respondents will trash the
Be sure to collect all of your responses within
email. Also let them know that if they do not
the 15 days after signing up on the 360Reach
see it, it may have gone to their junk mail. (TIP:
website above.)
Here is a sample email to send to respondents:
2017 15

“For my ______ course, I am required to partici- summary should include your brand attributes,
pate in a 360Reach assessment. This external brand skills, strengths and weaknesses, projec-
assessment allows me to receive anonymous tive exercises, team role, and any additional
feedback about myself from others. The goal of comments. It is important to note that after
this survey is to help me understand my the 15-day trial, all of your responses are deleted
strengths, weaknesses, team roles, attributes, and your subscription expires, so be sure to save
and skills. It would mean a lot to me if you all of your responses when you have 2 days
would answer the survey. The answers will not remaining on your account.
affect my grade, so please provide honest feed- 11. Under Data Analysis, click on “see a comparison
back. The survey should take about 10 minutes, of your self-assessment and your summary of
and it must be completed before X date. Thank external feedback.” This summary allows you
you so much!”) to compare your own results with the feedback
7. If you desire, you may “View sample of your you received. (TIP: Many students suggest copy-
survey.” This is how the assessment will look to ing and pasting your self-survey and respondent
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your respondents. This step is not required. survey feedback into a Word document. Saving
8. Under the “Request Feedback” tab, click “Send this information helps when comparing the self
the survey to your respondents.” A list of the and respondent surveys. You will not have
email addresses should appear. Click “Send noti- access to this feedback online once the 15-day
fications” at the bottom of the page to send trial expires.)
these respondents the link to your survey. If
Branding Statement Instructions
you were unable to collect 20 email addresses,
make sure that you have at least 10 to ensure Having your StrengthsFinder results validated through
anonymity. After the initial 10 are sent, you can 360Reach findings helps you to truly understand your-
add and send additional requests for feedback at self and how you are perceived by others. To help
any time during the 15-day trial. develop your personal branding statement, please con-
9. After one week, send a reminder to respondents. duct the following exercise:
This can be done on the 360Reach website, using
the “Request Feedback” tab by clicking the ● List your Top 5 Strengths as identified by the
“Remind people who have not yet responded.” Gallup StrengthsFinder tool. Now, compare this
When there are 5 days remaining, you may want with the strengths, attributes, skills, and answers
to send reminders again through the 360Reach to projective exercises given from 360Reach. Look
website if you have some respondents who have specifically for themes or messages from the
not replied. Although you do not know who 360Reach findings that reinforce your strengths.
these people are, the 360Reach website does, ● Based on this input, write a personal branding
and will not send emails to those who have statement that includes the following:The follow-
already completed your survey. (TIP: After ing are subitems of this list item.
● Value/benefits: Identify the value and/or benefits
5–7 days, send a combined thank-you and remin-
der email or text to your respondents. For exam- you provide to a potential employer. (TIP: This
ple: “If you have already responded, thank you could come from your StrengthsFinder assess-
very much. If you have not responded, please ment, 360Reach, or your own projects and
remember that you only have X number of days accomplishments, such as internships, work
to do so since this free 360Reach service expires experience, or personal experience.)
● Differentiation: Identify the unique attributes you
by X date. If you have not received an email from
360Reach with a link to the survey, please check offer that differentiate you from the competition.
● Target market: Identify the target market where
your junk email folder.”)
10. To check the status of your responses, go to the you are focusing your efforts. (TIP: Target market
“Manage Feedback” tab and click “See a in this case is defined as the field you wish to
Summary of Responses.” The second line tells work in, such as consulting, advertising, brand
you how many people have responded and the management, etc.)
16 Marketing Education Review

Reflection Questions 5. Feel free to develop your own questions in order to

These reflection questions are meant to assist you make this evaluation as useful to you as possible.
in your evaluation. Please answer any two of the
following questions in at least two or three sen-
tences per question as part of your evaluation. Be
1. Top 5 Strengths from StrengthsFinder in num-
sure to restate the question along with your answer.
bered order
1. Was there anything that surprised you from the 2. Common strengths from 360Reach in numbered
360Reach or StrengthsFinder evaluation? order; specify which StrengthsFinder strengths
2. Did you encounter any difficulties in complet- relate to your 360Reach results
ing this assignment? If so, please identify the 3. Top-five brand attributes
problem and offer solutions for future 4. Top-five brand skills
students. 5. Attach printout of 360Reach Profiler Results
3. How do you anticipate using the information summary
from StrengthsFinder and/or 360Reach in your 6. Personal branding statement
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personal and professional life? 7. Reflection questions

4. How can you use your strengths to address your 8. Time log: a record (in minutes) of time spent on
weaknesses or areas in need of improvement? the personal branding assignment