The First Step to a Great Personal Brand? A Distinct Look.
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The following is the first article in the series, "Living Your Personal Brand," in which marketing master Jim Joseph discusses practical ways to build your brand daily and use it to advance your personal and professional lives.
There’s been a lot written about personal branding, mostly in high concept with a long-range view on life. That’s what’s great about it: Personal branding helps you plan your future based on what you want to accomplish. But there’s also a day-to-day side of personal branding that merits exploration.
This new series of articles will take a look at what you can do every single day, consistently, to build your personal brand. We will uncover tips and approaches, including how to tackle social media, to help you build your personal brand as you go about your daily routine.
In this first installment we will tackle your packaging. Every brand has a package and your personal brand is no exception.
Your packaging is the outward-facing communication you give to those around you, including your clothing, hair/makeup, accessories, etc. Just like any brand, your “packaging” should be purposeful and determined.
No matter your occupation or personality, you should have your own personal “dress code.” Every day you should follow your unique look, one that’s tied to your personal brand and goals. As my father used to say, “If you want a promotion, then dress like you're the boss.”
Of course, this is easy in formal environments, where a strict dress code is more easily followed. But in most occasions there are no easy-to-follow standard rules, so you have to let your personal brand guide your clothing decisions.
Just because you work in a loose environment doesn’t mean that your clothing should reflect that you don’t care. Even jeans and a t-shirt can have a purpose, if that’s accepted clothing in your line of work. Clothing should do the same, by the way, when you go out after work or on the weekends. Even what you wear to the gym is a reflection of your personal brand.
Put some thought into what you wear because others are forming an opinion about you based on it. Create a look, own it and wear it -- no matter the day. Don’t simply create a “uniform,” because that will say something as well. You need to look like you put a little thinking and purpose into your packaging each day. The key is to find your personal look that packages you the way you want -- a pattern of clothing that matches and compliments what you are all about.
Me? I’ve found a signature style that works for my work. Because I’m in a youthful, creative industry, I’ve created a personal dress code that generally includes a lot of colorful shirts, a few accessories and an occasional colored pair of pants. I mix it up each day with different kinds of pants and shirts, along with a scarf or a hat every now and then.
Your accessories should also be purposeful too, and should be planned, coordinated and put together to build your signature look. A watch for men is crucial, because it suggests that you are productive. For women, it’s about picking jewelry that is appropriate to the occasion and your personal style. A few standard items that reflect your brand are always a safe route. Even a purse or a messenger bag says something about your brand. There’s nothing worse than seeing a gentleman in a beautiful suit carrying a beat-up college backpack!
And just like you’d be annoyed if you bought a product that has too big or small packaging, be mindful of fit as well. Invest in an iron to keep clothes looking fresh.
Personal grooming should absolutely be a permanent part of your "packaging." Choose a hairstyle that fits your look and change it as often as your personal brand dictates. Don’t overlook proper skin care and well-manicured nails (men and women). You want to show a certain amount of pride in how you look that translates to positive impressions. This includes the use of makeup as well.
Remember one thing, just like my mother always says, “One gimmick at a time!” You want people to pay attention to you, not to your many accessories, so go for one bold item per outfit. If you are wearing a bold scarf (men or women), then that should be the defining piece of your outfit that day. If you layer too many things all at once, your brand will feel confusing.
At the end of the day, it’s about being purposeful with your packaging. Dress like you put some thought into it, and those around you will think about you too!