Great personal brands don’t happen over night. Like great stories, they develop and strengthen over time. Over the past few months, we’ve emphasized the importance of branding in stages, and in particular, revisiting your personal brand of last year, and coming up with a plan to move it forward forward in 2014.
In our last post, we looked at the inner branding aspect of personal branding, which includes your vision, purpose, values, goals and strengths. Personal branding, however, also includes outer representations of our brand, including our presence, personal impact, personal style, lifestyle and online presence. In this post, we focus on the “big three” components of outer branding – presence, personal impact and personal style – and offer questions to guide you in strengthening them.
1) Presence. First and foremost, your brand needs to get noticed by others.
- In my December post, I asked if you felt you had “presence” when you walked into a room. If it’s not as strong as it could be, what can you do differently? For example, can your posture be improved? Do you hold your head up and walk with confidence?
- When you first meet someone, do you effectively establish eye contact? Is your handshake strong?
- What is your body language saying to others? Is it closed off and fidgety, or open and confident?
- Do you know how to “work a room” and make yourself known at a social event?
- Are you engaging in opportunities to build your presence (e.g., attending social activities, benefits, networking events)?
2) Personal Impact. To have a strong brand, you need to be able to make a positive impression on others, communicate effectively and be memorable.
- Think of a time when someone gave you a really positive impression. What did they do?
- Do you consider yourself an effective communicator? Do you feel you are heard and understood? Are you generally getting the reaction you desire from your listeners?
- Does your voice make the right impact? This includes volume, speed, tone and pitch.
- Do others generally view you as confident? Can you give the impression of confidence even if you do not feel genuinely confident?
- How would you rate your overall level of assertiveness across different contexts (work, home, community, etc.)? Are there situations where you are more passive (or aggressive), and if so, how can you enhance your assertiveness skills?
3) Personal Style. Everything communicates your brand identity to others, including appearance. As our appearance can have a major impact on the way others initially perceive us, first impressions can sometimes make or break our chance at sharing our personal brands effectively.
- Do a wardrobe inventory. What does your current wardrobe “say” about you? Does it represent the brand you would like to put forward? Is it also right for your age and profession?
- What do you need to add (or subtract) to develop a brand-consistent personal style? Is there something you can add to your appearance that is unique and memorable (e.g., hairstyle, handkerchief, briefcase, ties, style of glasses)?
- Details are critical. Do you give the impression that you take care of your appearance? Are your garments stain-free and ironed? Do they fit properly or are you overdue for a trip to the tailor? Are your shoes dirty and scuffed or clean and shined?
- Equally important of course is self-care. An unhealthy physical appearance is an obvious one, but things like uncared for skin and teeth are often the first to get noticed. What message might this give to others?
- Look to your inspirations – celebrities and high profile personalities as well as personal inspirations – and take note of their style and how they present themselves. Do they have a signature look, a certain quirkiness or hairstyle? How can you take what you admire about their look and make it your very own?
- Are you comfortable with your personal style or do you feel like you are “trying too hard”? Ultimately, your personal style needs to feel authentic.
It won’t happen overnight, but hopefully this series of assessments will be a step towards writing the next chapter of YOU.