You have a personal brand, whether you've defined it or not. While we know there is more to a person than how he or she looks, in reality, potential clients, colleagues and other individuals you encounter will make judgments based on your appearance.
Behavioral and communication experts affirm that your physical impression is vital to negotiations and business dealings. It affects whether people like you, trust you and want to work with you. Your appearance tells your story.
So, as an entrepreneur, your task is to make your "personal brand" an extension of your company’s brand, and vice versa, because you are the outward face of your company. This requires you to take the same care with your personal brand as you do your company brand. And personal style, which includes your wardrobe and grooming habits, is a good place to start.
As the owner of MasonBaronet, I've striven to cultivate my own personal brand as an extension of my company’s brand, values and personality. As the face of my agency’s brand at all times, I act and dress accordingly. Here are some tips that have helped me throughout this journey, personally.
1. Choose adaptable, flexible classics that send the right message about your company.
Think about the impression you’re making with your clothing. High-quality, adaptable and appropriate classics are always in style. For example, my agency’s brand personality is timeless and sophisticated --not trendy or flashy. So, I reflect that aesthetic in my outward appearance.
Classics that work well together in terms of color and style make pulling together an outfit easy. If your company’s brand allows you to be a little riskier in your dress, add something fun that stands out.
2. Understand that being a business owner is a 24/7 job.
As business owners, we are always “on,” and you never know whom you will meet outside the office who could turn into a new business opportunity.
I sometimes go directly from my advertising agency job to networking events, or events with my husband, who is a lawyer. It’s important that I look appropriate for the occasion at hand while still representing my brand. I find it helpful to think about everything on my calendar for the entire day and evening and plan accordingly.
Think about how your clothing can transition with you as you move throughout your day -- from business meetings, to volunteer events with your employees, to a networking happy hour or a corporate dinner with your spouse. Based on your plans, you can dress a classic outfit up or down with the right add-on pieces or accessories.
3. Consider what’s appropriate for your industry as well as your role in your company.
As the leader of my agency, I set the tone for how employees are expected to represent themselves. If I come into the office in yoga clothes, looking disheveled, my employees will likely follow suit -- which is not consistent with the brand image we want to project.
So, no matter how tired or busy I am on any given day, I present myself according to our brand image. I encourage my employees and all professionals to pay close attention to the company culture and example set by senior leaders. Similarly, entrepreneurs should recognize that the example they set trickles down the entire organization.
4. Prepare your look ahead of time, and organize yourself to make brand consistency easy.
Mornings are the time to focus on planning your day, not on what to wear. By planning ahead of time instead of rushing in the morning, you’ll guarantee a streamlined look and focus your energy on what matters -- running your business!
Preparation, instead of last-minute rushing, ensures that your clothing will be freshly laundered and pressed, and gives you time to think of different outfit pairings that will fit the day to come. It sounds simple, but the value of planning ahead can’t be underestimated. Your goal is to look sharp and polished -- just like your business.
I have found that an organized, well-designed closet is a great place to start. It allows you to see your options at a glance and build outfits with ease. I personally like to organize my closet by similar colors and by the types of pieces (shirts, dresses, pants, suits, evening, etc.). This system makes it easy for me to pull together looks, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Organize your closet so it works best for you, your wardrobe and your lifestyle.
5. If all else fails, tap the expertise of a stylist.
If you’re having trouble aligning your company’s brand with your personal style, I recommend utilizing a stylist to help. If you can share with a stylist a few words that sum up your brand, he or she can easily and quickly pull together looks that visually represent your brand. Stylists are also great for pushing you out of your comfort zone while helping you define your look. Professional stylists can be great consultants to entrepreneurs needing an extra aesthetic push.
Branding is the sum of all the touchpoints a person has with your brand, and although personal appearance is just one piece, it’s an important one.
And there's more there than just fashion: Details like hair, nails and accessories also matter for both males and females. All the seemingly small details add up to create your overall appearance, and reflect on your brand.
Take a moment to consider how you present yourself, the story you want your appearance to tell and how that story reflects on your company’s brand. I sincerely believe that consistent personal branding positively impacts my daily business interactions and contributes to my agency’s success.