Why personal branding is about more than wearing yellow socks
Personal branding means different things to different people.
To some people in business that I’ve met it’s about being known for wearing a particular colour, always wearing yellow socks or dressing to match their logo. This is all well and good, it might help you be remembered and gets you known within your network. It will say something about you and affect how you are perceived.
To marketers personal branding means something completely different; to a graphic designer it may be more about choosing one font and colour over another because of the psychology and what that particular sans serif says compared to that one.
What we would all agree on is that personal branding is about keeping your message cohesive.
To me, in my profession as a colour and image consultant it’s about looking the part – whatever the part means to you.
I deliver a talk about it. My talk is called “If it looks like a duck…”
There’s a saying “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
If you look the part, you are more likely to be perceived as credible.
Imagine if I rocked up to an event in ill fitting, scruffy clothes, mismatched colours, a pair of trainers that had seen better days, hair needs brushing and my make up looks likes it’s been put on with a trowel. Would I look the part as an image professional? No. I would definitely not look the part. My best efforts to establish myself as a credible authority on colour, style and image would be wasted because of how I look.
First Impressions last
Whether we like it or not people are making judgments about us within seconds. First impressions are generated subconsciously and how we look is sending messages out to the world. We don’t like to think of ourselves as judgmental, but we do actually judge a book by its cover. We like people to conform with our expectations, at least until we get to know them.
Imagine meeting an accountant or a solicitor for the first time to discuss finances or writing your will. If they turned up in suit we would not be surprised, it would make us feel confident in their ability. The same person wearing jeans and a football shirt for a first meeting would throw us. It would create dissonance and we’d be distracted – they would not be any less qualified to provide a service but our impression of them would not be the same. They would not look the part.
So, when I talk about personal branding it is in the context of helping someone look the part. First off, we need to establish what that actually means to them. This is where the “Duck Words” come in and, depending on how deep the client wants to go in terms of their Style Journey, depends on how we decide on those words. I would usually get them to finish up with 3-5 words that resonate with how they want to be perceived. We’d then go about the process of how that can be achieved in terms of their personal style and image.
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak” Rachel Zoe
Your style is greater than the sum of its parts. The devil is in the detail for our personal image and an outfit is created by how you put those details together. Details such as colour, fit, fabric, finishing touches such as accessories. When I work with clients on my one to one package, we focus on getting it right in 4 areas:
• Style Personality
• Levels of Dressing
• Figure Flattering Styling
Getting it right in any one of these areas makes a difference and can be transformational but when you hit the sweet spot of all 4 areas combined that’s when you reach Style Nirvana.
Style Nirvana is when true “comfydence” kicks in. Comfydence is when you feel comfortable and confident in the situation and/environment. You are not stressed by getting dressed because you’ve got your look figured out. Your clothes are in colours and shapes that suit your and flatter your unique body shape. The style of everything you put together to create an outfit is totally ‘you’ because you understand your style personality and how that translates to the type of clothes/accessories you buy. You can effortlessly level your look up or down to be appropriate for the occasion.
The impact of all of this means that you look good. Because you look good you feel fabulous. Because you look good and feel fab you have an air of confidence. Body language is hard to fake, when you know you look the best version of you carry yourself differently. And this is where we start connecting with our personal brand and congruently look the part – whatever the part means to you.
So, you might to think about how you want to be perceived, jot down a few words and then take a look at how you show up.
Perhaps you want to be seen as warm and approachable? Quirky and creative? Serious and efficient? Remember that we want to avoid dissonance, we are aiming for congruence and consistency across your brand. You might want to stand out from the crowd and dress to set yourself apart but also be mindful of how you come across to your client base, would you want to go so far as to challenge what they expect?
Back to the duck statement…
“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
What kind of a duck are you?
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