The top steward of the world’s most recognizable brand told university graduates in Turkey this month that they should polish their own personal and professional brands with integrity, hard work, compassion and courage.

Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, delivered commencement remarks at Koc and Özyeğin universities, stressing the power of a good name in a world where expectations for companies, brands – and college graduates – are changing fast.

Kent, who joined Coca-Cola in 1978 after responding to a classified ad in The New York Times, grew up traveling around the world as the New York-born son of a Turkish career diplomat. He said the values instilled by his parents taught him the fundamental principles of building a good brand, and it prepared him well to lead Coca-Cola’s business in more than 200 countries.

“It was a very special way to grow up, with friends, neighbors and classmates from many countries, cultures, religions and ways of life,” Kent said.

Muhtar Kent receives an honorary degree at Koc University.

Great brands keep the promises they make to consumers, Kent said. Well-loved brands align with good reputations.

And while Coca-Cola has always worked to make positive changes in communities, consumer expectations are changing, Kent said. The link between brand love and respect for the parent company is growing tighter in the minds of consumers. The world’s needs – for water replenishment, for example – demand sustainability efforts that are bigger and bolder than ever, he said.

Building a business or career is not about one-time success, Kent said at Özyeğin University. Kent has reiterated a similar theme in meetings with investors, analysts, journalists and Coca-Cola employees: that Coca-Cola is focused on creating value in the long-term, managing for the quarter-century rather than just the next fiscal quarter.

“Taking responsibility means continuing to do what it takes to reproduce successful results,” Kent said.

Muhtar Kent with Özyeğin University Chairman Husnu Özyeğin.

The commencement addresses centered on the daily, quiet work it takes to build a good name and lasting reputation: what some might call old-fashioned values of honesty, brotherly love, selflessness and self-control.

”Be vigilant, persistent and passionate,” Kent told the graduates. “Be committed to polishing your reputation. And I don’t mean this at a superficial level. Because what’s underneath always has a way of coming out.”