Have you ever met someone and thought “I just don’t trust them” or “I just didn’t take to them”? Did that encourage you to buy a product or service from them? Probably not.
Now, put yourself in the position of a potential customer of your business. What do you think people will think about you when they first meet you and before you even open your mouth? What initial impression are you portraying? Bear in mind that people decide on your trustworthiness in a tenth of a second so it’s important to make that first impression count.
If you make a negative impression based on visual assessment, you must work twice as hard to reverse it. So, don’t let it be a thing, don’t let it get in the way of your success.
Luckily you can do something about it, and it comes down to recognising, understanding and controlling your Personal Brand.
What is a personal brand?
Everybody has a personal brand. Whether you like it or not. It’s unique to you and it’s what people remember about you.
It’s your reputation, how you present yourself, your body language and mannerisms, it’s what you wear and how you interact with others. It’s in what you say and how you say it. It’s what people say about you when you’re not there, what you’re known for, what comes to peoples’ minds when they hear your name.
And it is the single most important way that you can stand out from the crowd. Your personal brand differentiates you from others in your field. Personal Style (i.e. what you wear) is just one part of your brand. You walk into a room and immediately others have formed an opinion of you. They may even have formed an opinion based on your reputation before you enter the room. This is all your personal brand.
I’m not saying that what you wear is more important than what you have to say. However, you and your clothes are talking non-stop even when you’re silent. So, to make your verbal message more convincing, more trustworthy, more intentional and heard, your visual messages must be equally consistent and convincing.
Why is it important?
Tom Peters, a business guru and former McKinsey consultant, first coined the term Personal Brand in his article in Fast Company Magazine in 1997:
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
So, if you want to establish a business, be successful in business, feel more confident, more competent and to do yourself justice in all your endeavours then you need to understand and constantly build your personal brand.
If you don’t control your own brand and write your own narrative, others will do it for you. And you don’t want that – this is something that’s in your hands – it’s only fair that you write the script and make it work for your benefit.
In the business world, personal branding is about marketing yourself and your business as a brand. Getting others to know, like and trust you is the first step to building a successful business relationship.
The impression you make in the first few seconds of attending a business meeting, an interview or a networking event can significantly affect the success of the outcome. And whilst you might be uncomfortable with this– it might feel judgemental - its human nature. We’re predisposed to assess a threat quickly, so making snap decisions can indicate survival or not.
What can I do about it?
First impressions matter. Think about a situation where there are a room full of potential customers or you are meeting a potential customer for the first time. What 3 things do you want people to think about you before you even open your mouth? What key words do you want people to associate with you?
Professional, inspiring, approachable?
Dishevelled, outdated, boring?
Now think about what words you would want them to use. If they’re different to those you have identified above, then it’s time to invest in You. It’s time to be your own Marketing Manager.
It is of course more than just what you wear, but this is one obvious way you can ensure consistent messaging. Alongside, make sure your social media outlets are consistent with your brand – do they also position you as professional, inspiring and approachable? Inconsistency can confuse the customer and makes it more difficult to get them to know, like and trust you. And ultimately to buy from you.
Here’s some key tips to shape the visual aspects of your Personal Brand:
- To help your customers understand you more quickly, make sure your style and image are accurately reflecting who you are and what you stand for.
- Pay attention to the details of how you look as this can be perceived as indicative of your approach to your business. People always notice your shoes and your hair so make sure both are clean! Be well maintained – if you are worth it then so are your services!
- Take a good look at the visual aspects of your brand and understand whether your appearance is consistent and portraying the right image for your business.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you met you for the first time and made a visual assessment, would you buy from you? If not, why not? You are your business. How can you come across as trustworthy, professional and competent in your field?
About Shelley Kelly
Shelley Kelly is a personal stylist based in Exeter and supports businesses in their personal branding. Shelley helps individuals to be the best version of themselves through the image they present, saving them time and money in the process.
As well as running a small business Shelley Kelly Style, Shelley has a Masters in Human Resources and many years of experience working in both the private and public sector. You can find more about Shelly and the services she offers on her website shelleykelly.co.uk.
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