Welcome to the April edition of “A Year of Personal Branding“, where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand.
As always, I invite you to use these monthly Year of Personal Branding posts as a map that will allow you to navigate all aspects of Personal Branding.
In earlier posts, I asked you to look at your own brand attributes, and more recently, at how others perceive you. This month, we look at the part of personal branding that includes outer representations of your brand, or your outer brand. Whether or not we believe “a book should not be judged by its cover”, outer brand attributes are a key concept – and often the first component – in communicating your brand identity to others.
But are you expressing an outer image that creates an impact and sends the right message about you? This month, I challenge you to take a step towards building a more authentic and representative outer brand.
Traditionally, spring is a time of spring cleaning, of decluttering and making space. Let’s take a look at how a little decluttering of our own can help us express a more authentic outer brand, particularly by focusing on the clothing and accessories that may be detracting and even distracting from our personal brand.
The Wardrobe Edit
Set aside a day to look through your wardrobe and decide what fits in with your personal brand.
– Does the item or outfit represent the brand you would like to put forward?
– Is this look a consistent and accurate representation of your authentic brand?
– Is it also right for your profession?
– Are the items conveying the right message about you?
Having a friend on hand can help with the process, but if you would rather do this on your own, try taking photos of outfits to help you make your mind up. Of course, if you feel like you can use a little professional guidance with your edit, personal stylists can work brilliantly and can be well worth the time and money. Just be sure to use a stylist who is also savvy to personal branding!
Decluttering your wardrobe doesn’t mean that you have to automatically toss everything that doesn’t set you alight at the moment (more on this in my upcoming post, stay tuned!). Try repositioning the items that you feel best convey your brand into the main part of your storage space or wardrobe so that it’s easy to reach for when you need it. You can of course keep the other bits and pieces for when you want to experiment, add a bit of sparkle for that event, or to deliberately “mix up” your brand. Of course, if something is really looking incongruous with your personal brand then by all means donate it for someone else to enjoy.
And don’t forget to edit accessories as well and experiment a bit. Adding that fun broach or pocket square might just help to add a bit of oomph and even refine your outer brand. Perhaps you’ll even discover a defining signature piece in your de-clutter.
Once your edit is complete, take a look at those items that may fit with your personal brand, but perhaps needs a little love and attention: that briefcase that needs a bit of polish, or the dress that would work if you got the hem or sleeves shortened. Spend a little time reviving items or updating them as needed. Sometimes a simple dry clean or mend can make all the difference.
For re-homing purged pieces that didn’t make the cut, consider bagging them for a charity shop, ideally one that represents a cause resonates with you (after all, social responsibility is also an important part of personal branding!). If you’re feeling sociable, consider holding a clothes swapping party to not only find new homes for pieces that no longer depict your brand, but perhaps even discover friends’ pieces that you can work into your own branding. For re-homing designer pieces, try selling them on sites like eBay or Vestiare Collective, which can be ideal platforms to help you create wardrobe space…and make a little spending money for those new pieces too!