Jeff Bezos once said “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”.
Whether the ‘marketplace’ you operate in is global, national or city-wide, it is likely to be crowded. As with any brand, to stand out and reach the top of your profession you need people to be saying the right things about you when you are not around. To do this you really need to consider yourself as a brand, and therefore develop your Personal Brand.
The concept of branding was first introduced in the sixties, for companies that needed to differentiate their products from their competitors within ever growing markets. With any product – whether it be a luxury handbag or a can of coke, packaging sets the expectation of the quality of what is to come.
It may sound harsh, but in business, you are more or less a commodity and considering your personal branding is essential is you want to be taken seriously.
As you will know from you own experience, your experience of a product, especially the initial impression you get when you buy something new, goes far beyond the product itself and it begins with how it is presented. The more expensive and high quality it is, the more attention to detail goes in to its packaging – fact.
Your appearance is your packaging. It creates perceived value and sets the expectation of your personal brand, telling others what kind of qualities they can expect from you, and what you are about – even before you speak. This is why we always work with clients to get clarity on the qualities they want their packaging to project- what do they want their wardrobe to tell people?
Below is a list of qualities, many of which are seen as important in business and leadership success. These can also be seen as ‘brand values’ when considering yourself as a personal brand.
From the list below, what are your top five qualities that you would hope to project?
ACCURATE ADVENTUROUS AMBITIOUS APPROACHABLE ASSERTIVE AUTHENTIC AUTHORITATIVE AUTONOMOUS AWARE BALANCED BOLD BRAVE BRILLIANT CALM CHARISMATIC CHEERFUL COMMITTED COMPASSIONATE COMPETENT CONFIDENT CONSCIENTIOUS CONSISTENT COURAGEOUS CREATIVE CURIOUS DARING DECISIVE DETERMINED DILIGENT DISCIPLINED DYNAMIC EFFICIENT ENERGETIC ENTERPRISING FAIR FLEXIBLE FOCUSED FORWARD-THINKING FRIENDLY FUN HONEST INDEPENDENT INNOVATIVE INSIGHTFUL INSPIRING INTEGRITY KIND KNOWLEDGEABLE LOGICAL LOYAL OPEN OPEN-MINDED OPTIMISTIC ORGANISED OUTGOING PASSIONATE PATIENT PERCEPTIVE PERSISTENT POISED PRECISE PROACTIVE PRODUCTIVE PROFESSIONAL RATIONAL REFINED RELIABLE RESOURCEFUL RESPONSIBLE RESPONSIVE SECURE SELF-CONTROLLED SELF-RESPECT SERENE SOCIABLE STABLE SUCCESSFUL THOROUGH TRUSTWORTHY UNIQUE VISIONARY WARM
Now also consider the following questions, making a note of the qualities that resonate or come to mind as you go, and using the list above to help you. Of course, this is not a definitive list, and there are others that may be more appropriate for you, so feel free to add any that you don’t find listed.
What would you want others to know about you, before you have had the chance to speak to them?
Which words sum you up?
What words would those that know you well use to describe you?
What are your key strengths?
How would you like to be described?
Is there a quality that you’re not currently projecting, but would like to?
Look at all the words, that you have come up with. Now narrow them down and list your top 5 qualities.
Start each with the words, “I am …”
This is a really worthwhile exercise to get your image overhaul journey started and will help you identify blind spots you didn’t even know where there. Give it a go and see how you get on – I would love to hear from you about any realisations you may have!
Lizzie Edwards is the owner of Lizzie Edwards Style Consultancy, one of London’s leading Personal Stylists and Image Consultants for Women in business and author of 'Look Like The Leader You Are; A 7-Step Style Strategy for Ambitious Women’