Personal branding is the buzz word du jour. And sure enough, with an increasingly competitive market, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. We are all living brands looking to be noticed; whether through job seeking, for example, interviews, promotions, career change or looking for a sexual partner, making new friends, socializing, networking and doing presentations. Your image has a strong impact on how people perceive you. So how do you do want to be seen by others?
Let’s take the example of Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. Zuckerberg does not spend much time on grooming, as we all know. His personal image conveys the impression that he is approachable without too much attitude, and his success does not require him to brand himself on a sartorial level. He has already made his permanent mark, and his personal image is low on his priority list.
Now, imagine Zuckerberg dressed up to the nines; sharp, sophisticated suit with linear shapes, made from the most expensive fabrics and paired with an extravagant watch and a pair of handmade brogues. In this case, he would project a stronger air of authority. He would, suddenly, appear more exclusive. This is most certainly not the way he would want to project and promote his most important brand, Facebook.
Facebook is about networking and connecting to each other in a fun and friendly way. By dressing with a baseball cap, a pair of casual sneakers and a low key tee-shirt, Zuckerberg allows accessibility and promotes an aura of inclusivity. Instead of isolating himself in his ivory tower, he wants everyone to join him. Zuckerberg brands himself on a par with Facebook’s corporate identity.
However, I am not endorsing his image to you all. Branding yourself is a very personal thing:
First of all, you must brand yourself according to your audience and your environment. Do you need to create credibility, authority or friendliness? While the first impression is important, people tend to quickly judge you by the way you look. In reality, even though human beings are highly intelligent, they can be very superficial as we instinctly make snap decisions. Is that person nice, dangerous, quirky, approachable?
Personal branding should start with your personal style. Branding yourself is an amalgam of many factors – your behavior (accent, tone of voice), the accessories you wear (ties, watches, pens, cases, bags, glasses), the car you have, the decoration in your house, your friends, and your personal style, of course. Your personal Style is the most important aspect to your image, as this is what people see right away.
Spend time reorganizing your wardrobe and wear clothes that you are comfortable in. Purchase quality garments with the right fit. Anything too big will make you look sloppy and dent your personal identity. Start creating a solid image that inspires others, and try to be consistent throughout. Do not forget that you are a brand and, as with any brand, it is a constant work in progress.
Developing your personal style takes time so don’t expect to change it overnight but overtime, the efforts you have put in will eventually pay off so persevere and reap the rewards!