How Swim Search Alumna NoorJehan Tourte Has Aced Brand Building

The open casting call applicant is the head of strategy at healthcare advertising company Area 23.
NoorJehan Tourte

NoorJehan Tourte.


Swim Search alumna NoorJehan Tourte has spent the past several years building brands, both in her professional role as the head of brand planning at healthcare marketing firm Area 23 and in her personal life. The open casting call applicant, who submitted a video to be a part of the SI Swimsuit family in 2022, says her experience with the magazine helped her discover her passion for encouraging and inspiring women to chase their dreams, despite how unrealistic or unorthodox they may seem.

During her day job, the 39-year-old’s tasks include crafting new pitches and proposals, building out the firm’s market and network, finding new clients and working to “deliver a story that’s memorable.”

“People throw the word ‘strategy’ around all the time, but what it really means is everything that we’re suggesting is based in human insight,” she says, adding that she thrives in the social, dynamic and high-pressure environment of her job.

How her background shaped her career

The New York City resident, who grew up in Southern California, says that her background as the daughter of South Asian immigrants of the Muslim faith has shaped her in numerous ways. While she was on track for medical school almost two decades ago, her true passion was writing—and when she didn’t get into medical school, she got her Master of Public Health degree instead.

“I decided to go get my MPH because I had all the science background,” she explains, adding that she fell in love with healthcare. She knew she wanted to stay within the industry that she had already put so much time, effort and education into.

“When I got my first internship at PWC where I started as a healthcare consultant, what was revealed to me was that I loved business. Suddenly I’m like, ‘Oh, this is sexy. This is glamorous,” she recalled. “They’re giving me Bluetooth. I’m flying across the country. We’re going to client dinners and then we deliver. We go out and then we wake up at 7 a.m. and we crush our presentation. I loved it. It just felt very fast paced, and I thrived in that business environment, but I was doing it in an industry where I felt well-read.”

Today, Tourte is adamant about sharing her experiences with the world, and especially with women of color. She learned to navigate corporate America all on her own, and has picked up several tips and tricks along the way.

Her personal brand

Tourte says that most importantly, she wants people to feel at ease around her.

“I have always held that I want people’s reactions, when they hear that NoorJehan Tourte is going to be leading that pitch, or NoorJehan’s going to be the head strategist on this new account or she’s going to be at the meeting, I want people to breathe a sigh of relief,” she says. “That sigh encapsulates so much, right? I want them to feel like this is not going to be an account where the senior people are going to terrorize us and she’s gonna come prepared, and we know she’s gonna deliver.”

She adds that she hopes people feel that way in more informal situations too, like if she is attending an event or invited to a dinner party.

“That is my personal brand. Hopefully, someone’s breathing a sigh of relief, and that’s a reflection of knowing that maybe they feel anxious going [somewhere], but if I’m there, they know that I’ll include them in the conversation, or that I’ll spend time talking to them, without even knowing that they’re feeling that way, but because that’s just who they think I am,” she continues.

How to create your own personal brand

When it comes to starting your own personal brand, Tourte suggests first determining what problem you’re trying to solve.

“A lot of people will give you answers, like ‘start with your why,’ and I support that, obviously,” she shares. “But people will not be drawn to you unless you are meeting a need that they have. When you’re building a personal brand, it’s for a reason, right? Because you need to market yourself and get people feeling like they’re getting something out of you. And so you have to first start with what is the problem that you can solve. The problem that you need to solve is one that the people that you want to connect with are experiencing. Once you actually start answering that question, that’s when you start going and finding the insights.”

Maintaining and staying true to your own brand

Tourte defines brand equity as the social value of the brand and its place in society. Where personal brands begin to falter, she notes, is when they try to be overly trendy.

“I’m not saying don’t jump on a trend, but you gotta ask yourself first, ‘Does this align with your brand, your personal values, what you have built up and what people have known you for?’ And if it doesn’t, then don’t jump on that trend,” she advises.

She adds that it’s much easier said than done, but the real reason you shouldn’t share, post or sign on to something that doesn’t truly align with your brand is because you won’t be very good at it, and who wants to do something mediocre?

“You invested so much heart and effort into building this personal brand, and what keeps it so strong is that people can sense that you feel very confident in what you’re talking about and what you’re doing,” she shares.

Brand positioning

Positioning is the place your brand occupies in the minds of target audience members, relative to the competition. Tourte describes positioning as the most important “competitive tool” and an internal document that serves as a “north star” for further decisions within the company.

“There is an actual formula to it. It’s called a five box positioning statement. It’s a literal statement that we come up with [to answer] who is your core audience? What’s the frame of reference or market that you’re playing in? What is your core differentiated benefit? What are the reasons to believe in you in this core differentiated benefit? And then what is that end benefit to the audience?” she explains. “You gotta start with the problem, the true statement, like who this is for, who your brand is for, you write that and you build in the problem statement. [For example] This is for people that are looking for jewelry that doesn’t tangle at night.”


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Ananya Panchal

ANANYA PANCHAL

Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.