- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Clothing’
Personal Branding involves your visual brand, including what you wear that reflects your personal branding goals.
How many times have you attended a crowded networking event where it seemed every professional in attendance was wearing a blue or black suit? How many times have you left events where everyone and everything seemed like a blur? What I mean is you could not quite remember anyone’s name or practice. In other words, no one left any type of impression on you. No one was memorable, let alone credible. Ever wonder why? It is because no one stood out for you. In a sea of sameness based on profession, what is it that you have to help you stand out?
Visual branding is about how you show up for me visually. In other words, we are talking about your actual appearance. Your appearance is only about twenty percent of the personal branding package that we are working to create, but nevertheless an important piece. When you are at a crowded event are you wearing something that will make me stop and take notice of you in a positive way? Or do you choose to blend into the background? Another good way of thinking about your attire and visual brand is to keep asking yourself, “does my attire and appearance bring me profit?”
This is often the point where people roll their eyes. In their opinion the visual portion is “fluff”. After all, not many of us professionals are working daily to make a fashion statement. I tend to agree. However, we also need to realize that society is visual in nature. Why do you think it is that so much money is spent each year by retail clothing stores, and designers producing clothes, marketing them to us and the rest of society?
Society (and businesses who would hire you) tend to pay attention to these things. Michelle Obama is a great example. How often have we heard and seen commentary about her fabulous and toned arms? Or what about her Gap sweaters and casual skirts? And the latest was all the commentary around her red Jason Wu gown at the inauguration ball.
I can’t say I was a fan of her red Jason Wu gown. In the past her clothing selection has denoted a personal brand element for her that was consistent and had clarity. This particular Wu gown did not send the same message to me about Michelle Obama’s personal brand. That’s my perception, that’s my reality and therefore, it is correct- for me.
Regardless of whether you liked Michelle Obama’s red gown or not, the fact is that we are talking and writing about it. There was even a column in the Huffington Post on it! Just as we notice Michelle Obama’s arms and gowns, people notice you and your visual brand and form judgments about you and your business based on it. If you disagree because you claim you are not the First Lady and thus, not super visible – you are fooling yourself!!
Does your attire bring you profit? What is your visual brand? Does it work for you? If not, what will you change and how?
1. Clothing is about being your best self for work and personally. You are a walking billboard for whatever you do for a living. Think of attire as creating a visual scenery that gets our attention so we can decide we want to talk to you more and get to know you better. There is power behind your attire!
2. Don’t go with all trends. Not all trends flatter every person nor will they convey your optimal brand for success. Plus, trends can get expensive. Instead infuse one or two things into your wardrobe that are trendy.
3. The main goal is to be yourself and convey a genuine personal brand: have high self-confidence and be comfortable.
a) Pick clothing that you are comfortable wearing and provide for ease of moment. If you feel uncomfortable in your clothes, then you will come across as stiff, uncomfortable and edgy. Not the ideal personal brand for success.
b) Pick colors that accentuate and add color to your skin tone.
c) Pick colors that attract and engage others while making you feel good.
d) Wear low-maintenance garments that don’t fade, ball-up or attract stains. If your clothes look worn out, so will you.
4. Pick your accessories wisely. One or two accessories can bring your entire outfit to life and give the appearance that you know what you are doing and have a mission of success. Plus, people now have more to talk to you about- accessories are conversation starters!
5. No matter what your weight, you can look well-put together and dressed for success. Create length in your silhouette by elongating your body line- wearing v-neck collars and shoes that have more of a pointed toe-box.
The more I work with individuals, either within a company looking to get promoted or those having lost their jobs looking for a new one, the more I realize a huge missing link for job seekers.
It seems people don’t realize that people buy people. We don’t initially buy your credentials or fabulous resume. We buy YOU, as the person!! The statistics are indisputable. 75% of all buying decisions (that includes buying people) are based on what emotions are stirred up for us, not so much about the content of the product or service.
What does that mean? This means that as a potential employee or current employee looking for a promotion, you need to be keenly aware that your personal brand and unique selling proposition is what sells you.
As an employer, I’m looking for that well-rounded individual that fits the job description completely: you must have a polished and well-thought out appearance, behavior and have the communication skills to effectively communicate with staff, prospects, clients and network optimally. In short, you must have that self-confidence in your physical and mental abilities.
I totally realize that when you have lost your job or don’t like your current job, you don’t necessarily have and display high self-confidence. But that high self-confidence is exactly what you need to develop. This self-confidence is easily recognizable by and attractive to employers. We all want to be around self-confident people. High self-confidence translates into being memorable and effective as a human being.
Have you reflected on and refined your personal brand lately?
Every time I travel through the airports from speaking engagement to speaking engagement, I am reminded of why our presence and appearance matters to our personal brand. Specifically, I realize how much of a message we are sending with our visual appearance.
For instance- each time I travel in a business suit, I have a completely different experience going through airport security than when I am dressed in casual attire (jeans, khakis, etc). Last week, I was on a red-eye flight to Florida. Thus, I was wearing my coordinated travel gear (ie, sweats). I literally felt like I got scrutinized by airport security- lots of direct looks and odd glances. Contrast this to last month, when I traveled in a suit. As I went through airport security, I noticed that no one even looked at me and I felt easily “floating” through the security checkpoints.
Now, I am NOT saying that security officials at airports discriminate and do their job incorrectly. I am saying, however, that you will be treated the way you look and feel. Security officials are human, too. If you look well put together and like you care about yourself, then you will likely be treated as such.
This applies at the airport and everywhere else, too. So next time you want to ensure optimal results, do the obvious- make sure your visual appearance is congruous with the way you want to be treated- well!
And if you don’t believe me, next time pay attention to your attire/presence and the way you are treated as you go through airport security.
I get asked often why the visual element is so important in terms of personal branding. Often people assume personal branding and the related association is based strictly on name recognition. For instance, I read an article today on legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer. In the article, they refer to Bruckheimer as a brand. Most people have no idea who Bruckheimer is, let alone could spot him in a crowd. However, they know him as the producer of many great shows and movies including Amazing Race and Pirates of the Caribbean, to name just two. So for Bruckheimer his brand is his name.
However, for most of us our brand is about the visual reality we establish and build with people who get to know us. We remember people based on what we “saw” of them initially.
Thus, I tell my clients we must package our personal brand in a way to be aesthetically appealing to those around us who would want to get to know us better to build a long-term relationship and then perhaps become clients. So what is aesthetically appealing? Well, the human eye lands and stays on objects and people that are neutral, high energy and generally appealing at which to look. In other words, we like to look at and interact with those who are easy on the eye- literally. It is about art and proportionality and the proper use of color, pattern, texture and design in terms of our personal brand.
Once people are attracted to our aesthetically appealing personal brand, then they will build affinity for us and then communicate with us based on their reality, which is hopefully our reality, too.
So, what’s a person to do to become aesthetically appealing and easy on the eye? Here are some tips:
– Always look at yourself in terms of maintaining the proper proportionality when you dress. Keep bulky attire to a minimum and if you are wearing loose clothing on top, taper it with more form-fitting garments on the bottom. This applies to men and women. You wouldn’t buy a lamp that is out of proportion, so why would I choose to interact with someone who looks out of proportion and disturbing to my subconscious sense of art and balance?
-Always ask yourself, “Why am I wearing what I am wearing today and what does it say about me as a person and professional?” Is the garment appropriate for your personal brand and the message you are trying to impart to your audience for the day? Your message in terms of who you are and what business you perform is critical in your visual appearance.