When you think of Coca-Cola, what images comes to mind? Chances are, you picture frolicking polar bears who are “always cool” to “open happiness.” You associate it with a jovial Santa Claus unpacking his gifts underneath a lustrous tree. There is the trademark Coca-Cola font, eye-catching apple red backdrop, and the comforting contours of the bottle. Together, they spell out a message of classic values, community, and refreshment.
That’s branding. It is a strategy of creating impressions that play on a theme. It is a means to rouse curiosity and welcome a target audience into their world. In reality, these images — and what they symbolize — are an extension of what a company is all about. These days, professionals have taken a page from advertisers to create their own “personal brand.”
PERSONAL BRANDING IS FAR MORE THAN A DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
For many, it involves creating a digital footprint through blog posts, webinars, and videos. What images, emotions, and expectations come to mind when you walk into a room? Answering that question is the purpose behind a new MOOC from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Starting in February, the Leadership Toolkit for Working Professionals MOOC is designed to help students craft the right impression so they can make a true impact. Sound like something out of Napoleon Hill or Zig Ziglar? To an extent, but don’t think of this as a rags-to-riches seminar you can catch at the local Holiday Inn. This is course about how to stand out and be remembered — for the right reasons — based on academic research.
The culminating course in a four MOOC specialization that covers accounting and finance, operations, and strategic innovation, the Leadership Toolkit covers three areas: self-management, personnel management, and change management. In particular, the course focuses on how to develop an executive brand, with an emphasis on self-awareness, consistency, persuasion, problem-solving, and decision-making. Effectively, it’s a leadership boot camp, where students focus on how to create and lead teams, convey a vision, connect with others, and develop self-confidence.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP HEADLINES FEBRUARY COURSES
That’s not the only boot camp opening up in the area of online business education in February. Thinking about starting your own business? You can take your pick from several offerings. Topping the list is MIT’s Entrepreneurship 103: Show Me The Money, a precursor to the acclaimed MIT Global Entrepreneurship Boot Camps. In this course, students master the in’s-and-out’s of starting a business, ranging from carving out a business model to establishing team roles and responsibilities.
The University of Maryland covers similar terrain (and more) though a series of MOOCs that include Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship; Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea to Marketplace; and New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs. For aspiring founders looking to start at the beginning, MIT will open up another section of Entrepreneurship 101: Who is Your Customer at the end of the month that focuses on identifying prospects and understanding what, how, and why they purchase. At the same time, the Copenhagen Business School is re-introducing two MOOCs for students looking to scale up ventures that serve a higher cause: Identifying Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities and Social Business Model and Planning for Social Innovation.
Back to the concept of branding, Peter Wilson, Babson College’s faculty finance whiz, certainly understands how to position his new MOOC. Just look at the name of the course: Financial Accounting Made Fun: Eliminating Your Fears. Teaching accounting concepts by opening a business, Wilson turns dry theory into urgent practical matters that stick with students. However, not every MOOC is on an introductory level this month. The University of Michigan is running an online version of its exacting Corporate Financial Policy course that’s taught to Ross School of Business MBA students. If you’re hoping to broaden your portfolio beyond a 401K, Rice University is coming out with Investment Strategies and Portfolio Analysis.
To learn more about these courses — and many more — click on the links below.