Small Businesses typically launch without spending a lot of time on their brand. Because let’s…
Are You Using One of the Most Influential Elements of Your Branding Toolkit?
As an entrepreneur, each time a client comes into contact with you and by association, your personal brand, you want them to be left with the same positive impression.
Having a personal brand is about consistency in messaging. Like any branding, the end result is how you make people feel. What you choose to wear plays a huge part in this. Whilst we might understand this concept, often we don’t really consider it fully or incorporate fashion decisions into an overall business strategy.
Your personal brand is communicated on many levels; through your content, what you choose to talk about or not talk about, through your logo and through the types of fonts and imagery used on your website. What you choose to wear needs also to be congruent with your personal brand; reflecting who you are, what you stand for and what you do.
For example, do your fashion choices inspire confidence in potential clients? If you were presenting an idea to a room, what message would your clothing send? Are you being respectful to your clients with the clothes you wear?
Have you ever thought to invest in your image and the clothes that help project you to the world? It’s not something that we naturally think about in a strategic way especially when it comes to business. We may know that what we wear is important but to have a critical eye and to know how to carve this out to our advantage is another thing.
As entrepreneurs, we want to be memorable and also the first person that comes to mind when people think of our industry or niche. In order to do this, we need to be comfortable with a little change and perhaps be willing to put a little more effort into our look.
Here are three ideas that will help you to refine your image to be consistent and memorable and ultimately develop a stronger personal brand:
1. Develop a signature look.
Think of Steve Jobs; the turtleneck sweater was synonymous with the image of his personal brand. It’s what made people recognise his image immediately. He wore it to almost every keynote. Your signature look may be a particularly shaped blazer or shape and style of dress. Choose one or two signature elements and work this into your look. Having a signature look conveys a certain amount of self-knowledge; you know who you are and what suits you. This authentic confidence magnifies what you are trying to express through your image which makes it all the more powerful.
For example, Oprah Winfrey radiates warmth, compassion and intelligence and some of her signature style elements exude this. She often returns to a button-down shirt with a fuller skirt or a fitted but not too tight dress that elegantly celebrates her curves. Choose a few signature elements and incorporate them into every look.
2. Wear colours or prints representative of your brand.
Do you have specific colours in your logo or branding? Find a way to elegantly or not so elegantly (depending on your industry) use these in your clothing. If you are a speaker who addresses women’s empowerment, you may want to choose a particular shade of red and make sure it’s a part of your outfit every time you get up on stage. If it’s not the colours of your logo or branding, choose a few key colours that you repeatedly wear that people will associate with you. Sheryl Sandberg wears block colours (never prints) that are usually blue, red, or white and black. She doesn’t like to look too ‘fashion’ but she needs to look polished and professional, and the block colours help her achieve this.
3. Have your clothing represent your personality in the best way possible.
If your personality is gentle and compassionate, you may choose feminine flowing fabrics like silk blouses or dresses that drape. If you are decisive in nature and have a leadership role, you may choose more structured clothing like a pencil skirt and signature blazer. Ariana Huffington is confident and feminine; she often wears lace and soft prints, she is never overdressed but always polished.
Understand that just as your logo and business strategy are a conscious decision, what you wear should also fall into this category. Remember to separate habit from choice. Don’t wear something just because you feel like it works. If you feel that your fashion image could be improved, it may be time to engage with someone who can point you in the right direction. Every time you choose an outfit to meet a client or stakeholder make sure it represents you in an authentic way that is memorable and consistent with what you stand for.
Personal branding is becoming more important than ever. People are relating more to an individual as opposed to an organisation and this means that we have to do everything we can to make our personal branding effective. What you choose to wear, is without a doubt, one of the most influential elements in your personal branding toolkit, so use it wisely.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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