Take a moment and think of three words that accurately resemble how you see yourself and then write a few words down about how you believe others see you…
These days when I go to a meeting 95% of the time I throw on a blazer. First of all I have a quite a few that I wore when I was styling and designing mens suits at a tailor shop, so it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Secondly, regardless of what I am wearing, whether it is jeans and a tank top, a dress and sandals, a woollen skirt, with boots and a t-shirt… When I throw on that jacket I immediately become Emma Tynan Consulting. It is the image of my personal brand and why I generally keep a simple blazer in my car. It goes with my approach of being relaxed but professional. I like this because it is authentically me and helps me get into work mode, it adds that polished finishing touch.
The first thing we all think of when representing ourselves is, how do I come across to others?
This can be broken into two parts, our personality and our image. One is who we are and the other is how we look. Many people find it difficult to have the two compliment one another and confuse them as the same thing because they are both used to send a direct message to a captivated audience. That would be the person or people that are standing right in front of you.
Our personal brand is an extension of our personality, it is what we are known for. It consists of our core values and ethics. How accessible we are to others and how authentic and honest we are during our interactions.
Our image is simply how we dress, how we groom ourselves and how we smell. We know many famous people who had a signature image throughout history… Andy Warhol had his silvery white bob hair. Gwen Stefani is known for perfect red lips, Iris Apfel has her big round glasses, Katherine Hepburn wore trouser suits, Karl Lagerfeld his ponytail, sunglasses and aggressive collar and Run DMC’s Adidas Superstars. One of my favourite icons is Audrey Hepburn, as the muse of Hubert De Givenchy her look was always crisp and elegant even when dressed casually. In 1957 Givenchy created a signature scent for Hepburn… Givenchy L’ Interdit that she wore for the rest of her life.
So how do we create a personal brand and image that work together to send a cohesive message?
to make your personal brand and image send a unified message
- Start by asking yourself these questions: How do I see myself and how do I believe others see me? What are my dominant personality traits? What do I do on a daily basis? Who is my audience? What is the message I want to be received (remember what you think you are sending and what is received can be two completely different things)? Do I need to have a particular kind of clothing to enhance or make my daily activities easier? Am I required to wear a certain kind of clothing for my industry? What is my body type, true size and what is my complexion? Do I favour certain colours, brands and styles over others? Who has a look I really admire and does it work with my personality? What is my budget?
- Armed with this information start a file on your computer and begin to gather interesting looks, quotes and articles that resonate with your core values and industry as well as what you’d like to achieve. These will come in handy when refining your look and make fantastic conversation pieces about your industry, hobbies and values are when meeting people without shoving it down their throats.
- Creating the look can be difficult, I know some people that walk into a shop and just purchase exactly what is on the mannequin or what the sales person told them to buy, mainly because they are intimidated by making style choices themselves. I have a rule about dressing and so far it has worked for all of my clients. High, Low, Vintage. The base pieces in your wardrobe should be classic, well made and suit your body type. They can be high end as this is where you spend the bulk of your money because you will have these pieces for years to come. Low, this is for adding punches of colour and hot new trends, you can work with the colours that work best for your complexion or if being on trend is important to you – show you understand fashion by choosing the colour of the season. Vintage is my favourite, this where you can show your personality and maybe even your sentimental side. Through a piece of jewelry, a scarf, a watch… Maybe even a coat or purse. I knew an incredibly successful lawyer, who was always immaculately dressed. This gentlemen carried around his grandfathers beaten up old briefcase for years. When it finally fell apart he searched many shops and all over the Internet until he found a vintage replacement. It was not only sentimental it also represented his core value of respecting where he came from and the love of his family.
- Be comfortable, choose clothing and grooming that works with your personality and activities. Gwen Stephanie’s perfect red lips are a fantastic example; some women feel too on show with a bright red lip and that everyone is staring at them. Others feel like it gives them confidence or brightens their day. Some men love tight trousers and others find them physically or embarrassingly uncomfortable. If you are an interior designer you are not going to wear a suit on the job, but when you meet a client you may want a smart shirt or blouse. Maybe even an interesting blazer. Remember that even if you look fantastic if you feel uncomfortable emotionally or physically… The look is probably not working for you and your personal brand.
- When you are deciding on a wardrobe, if you are authentic you will probably find you have many of the pieces already because your look is an extension of yourself. You can polish and refine accordingly. With the right basics in place, whether you are a suit person, a jean person, a trendy, active or classic person. Shopping each season should become easier as you learn what works for your personality, your body type, complexion and day-to-day requirements. Remember it is always important to finish an outfit with a phenomenal smile and appropriate body language.
Once you understand the difference between personal brand and image creating a look will become much easier. If at anytime you do wish to hire a professional, then choose someone who asks you lots of questions. Ensure they understand the difference between personal branding and image consulting and how they work together to send a consistent message. Most of all choose someone who you feel comfortable with… Changing rooms and baring your soul can be pretty intimate!