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Thursday, May 07, 2020

Is There a Difference Between Brand and Image?

Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands: according to Wikipedia. The site goes on to say that personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organisation.

You can read more about that here.

However you choose to view personal branding, it has certainly evolved over the past number of years to incorporate several principles.

Some refer to it as everything to do with social media and how you portray yourself through that medium.

It could also be about what you wear and image management, even personal public relations and the way you are profiled in the media could come under the umbrella of personal branding.

For me and my business it is a combination of all these elements that go toward helping you to create a memorable brand image.

Many years ago, I worked as a “publicist to the stars”, in the television industry. I developed bios and press kits, styled and arranged photo shoots, sought publicity for the personalities on radio and in the press, effectively managed their brand. That was called publicity.

I’ve thought about coming up with a new word or term to encapsulate what I (and others) do in this arena. 

I am a member of The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) primarily known as an organisation to do with stylists and image management. But what is image management really? Members of the association range from stylists to social media specialists, to media mavens, etiquette experts and leadership coaches. We are all in the business of image and managing impressions.

An article in the association magazine titled, Brand is Image, resonated with me. As a personal branding specialist and as a member of the association, I believe that brand and image are intertwined. We may believe that image is just to do with outer style, what you wear and the appearance or the look of your communication materials. But as stated in the AICI magazine:

Effective branding must come from within, tied to core values and identity, expressing what the brand stands for.

That applies to both business and personal brands.

Having said that, your personal brand is made up of many elements. Let’s for a moment focus on the outer brand image. Famous personalities and entertainers understand the importance of outer image and how that can be used to continue the inner brand theme.

Movie stars such as Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett use stylists and leading designers to create a look that is consistent with their movie star personas. Politicians dress a particular way – generally boring as any look that upstages their political party brand will be a detraction from their message.

Have you ever considered the message your personal image sends? What can you do to differentiate your personal brand through your visual appearance? You may have noticed there’s a dearth of blue shirts and black dresses in a corporate environment. Is that because those who wear them just want to fit in?

Why not celebrate who you are and rather than being bland, create a visual brand statement by the way you style yourself.

If you’ve worked out your personal brand values and identity, is there a certain colour, design or look that reflects who you are but also supports the environment you work in and your lifestyle.

Personal branding is about supporting and letting the best version of you shine through.

Another element of brand and image management is communication. The old style Hollywood was very much about creating a persona for the actor visually and then promoting and publicising that person. You don't have to craft an inauthentic persona however, you do need to be seen.

Image communications could be a new way of phrasing what I do to help entrepreneurs, thought leaders and business brands to stand out and shine.

Read more about your personal brand and image by downloading my free video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 steps to a Stand Out Personal Brand.

Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her image management and profile building programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.

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