Without fanfare, images of Angelina Jolie and the Queen appeared across media outlets worldwide last week as she was made an honorary dame for her services to UK foreign policy.

Flash back fourteen years ago, and there was a very different Angelina Jolie that we were all familiar with. It’s clear that she took the steering wheel and directed her brand towards where she is today. And in many ways, she is the forerunner on celebrity branding.

Others have followed in her wake, including George Clooney and Ben Affleck: some to great success others to lesser success.

So what has been the secret Jolie ingredient that enabled her to transform her brand and her perception among the global public and what can those seeking to build a brand learn from her?

Found her passion and promoted it in a carefully planned, step-by-step approach. She did not rush into her humanitarian work with refugees but took a slow approach after experiencing the plight of refugees in Cambodia while on location.

Hired experts to help identify organizations to affiliate with. She hired the best to give her the advice and background needed to be successful in campaigning for her cause while being selective in her affiliations. She chose only those that aligned with her values.

Created a tie-in with her core capability: her acting career. Slowly, but surely, Jolie began to pull her passion into her core skill set and work through directing and backing films on subjects related to the impact of war on civilians.

Prepared to transition by increasing scale. As a stage two of her brand development, Jolie expanded into issues around women and girl refugees and aligned herself more with the international policy community.

Her comment on Friday that “to receive an honor related to foreign policy means a great deal to me” may be an indication that she has honed her brand focus and has found where she can make the most impact in the coming years.

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