We often talk about personal branding in terms of inner brand attributes, such as your passion, purpose, vision, values and strengths. However, your personal brand also 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? Perhaps this is the year to “up your game” with your outer brand. Here are three actions to help you do just that.
1. Take a serious look at your personal style
Our personal style can have a major impact on the way others initially perceive us (and continue to interact with us), and first impressions can sometimes make or break our chance at communicating our brand identity effectively. Furthermore, if we feel we don’t “look the part”, we may not be able to “act the part” as confidently.
First, do a wardrobe inventory to assess what it communicates about you. Does it represent the brand you would like to put forward? Is it also right for your age and profession? Next, subtract the pieces that didn’t make the cut or are ill-fitting. Determine what can be worked with or salvaged if repaired, cleaned and/or altered. Finally, add items to develop a more brand-consistent personal style. Try adding something unique and memorable (e.g., hairstyle, handkerchief, briefcase, ties, style of glasses).
If you need inspiration in this area, pick up some fashion glossies and/or check out the sites of fashion bloggers such as MyStyleArtist. There are also very talented personal stylists such as Chantelle Znideric who can assist you in everything from styling to wardrobe editing to shopping!
2. Get more “present”
For your personal brand to make an impact, it first needs to get noticed by others. This involves establishing personal presence. Ask yourself: Do you have presence when you walk into the room? What about in the boardroom or during presentations? Do you network and “work a room” effectively?
If your “presence” isn’t as strong as it could be, set specific and measurable goals to improve different areas (e.g., posture, handshake, eye contact, body language, networking skills). Also engage in opportunities to build your presence, both online and off (e.g., attending social activities, benefits, networking events). Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or co-worker for feedback…you might be surprised at what others notice, and this information can prove to be invaluable!
3. Improve your personal impact
Everything communicates your brand identity to others, including your voice. To have a strong brand, you need to be able to make a positive impression on others, communicate effectively and be memorable. Pay attention to your communication skills and take particular note of volume, speed, tone and pitch. Are you generally getting the reaction you desire from your listeners? How is your communication style across different settings, such as face-to-face meetings, presentations or over the phone? Working towards becoming an assertive and confident speaker (even if you aren’t always feeling genuinely confident) is key.
If you feel you could use a little assistance with effectively using your voice or improving your personal presence, this is the year to take action! Try consulting with a voice and communications coach such as Susan Heaton Wright at Executive Voice to learn how to make an impact with your voice and physical presence.
Remember that a strong outer brand can help create a memorable first impression, as well as a lasting one!