Often I talk about public relations as being relationships with your public. I believe building personal relationships is critical to business success. Most people want to do business with people that they like. One way of building relationships is through your personal branding, differentiating yourself from your competitors by being you, and allowing that uniqueness to shine. You are also the package, just like a product. What does your package look like? How’s the design, colour and look? What message does your personal image send?
Your image is a bit like the weather. People notice when it's extremely good or extremely bad. In person how you shake hands, make eye contact, how you conduct yourself in social situations and the clothes you choose to wear help to build your personal brand. You need to take care of the details.
Your clothes, appearance and grooming really are the external image of your brand. What image are you projecting?
If we look at famous brands and the “look” they project through their people, Virgin Australia, as an example, has a strong corporate image of being friendly, fresh and cheeky. Qantas on the other hand has an image that is more conservative, more corporate. Both companies spend millions on getting their look right. Not just the external branding of logos and signage but the uniforms and image of the people within the organisations.
Everything is totally co-coordinated from the outfits to the shoes, hosiery, earrings and luggage – it’s a coordinated professional look as they can’t afford to have anyone in those companies presenting negatively. Jetstar on the other hand has a completely different image. It looks more casual and portrays an image of being less formal, no frills and a family, budget airline.
Not all organisations have a uniform – but there is definitely an underlying code of dressing particularly in the corporate environment which is smart, polished and professional.
Now having said that it doesn’t mean we all need to look and dress the same. By understanding the brand qualities you want to project with the work you do and the customer you want to attract you can create a look that is suitable, creative and stylish to help you stand out.
To begin, write down some adjectives of the type of person or brand you would like to be or project. Think of yourself as the product you are designing a package for. Cut out and collect some words, images and colours from magazines. Cut out images of clothes and shapes that appeal to you and reflect the words you have chosen for yourself. Create a brand portfolio of ideas and visual examples. Establish a strong visual image that is your blueprint.
As you do this exercise you will begin to discover your style and what appeals to you. This is your logo – your own personal brand. It is a very useful exercise as you can now take your brand portfolio to an image consultant or a photographer, graphic designer, web designer or any other consultant who is helping you to build the brand and image of your business.
Begin to think and feel your new brand image and live your new image until it becomes part of you.
Learn more about executive image consulting.
Sue Currie is Australia’s leading personal branding specialist and director of Sue Currie Communications an agency providing an integrated strategy of personal and professional public relations solutions to boost your image, renown, brand and business.
Sue is also the creator of the Shine Personal Branding System™ a process she uses to guide managers, executives and entrepreneurs to progress in their careers. With her consulting, coaching, corporate workshops, and conference speaking, Sue helps organisations and individuals to stand out and shine.