There are some people who just seem so naturally polished and put together that we associate these attributes with their overall personal brand. For many of us, achieving that level of polish and togetherness takes a bit more thought and cultivation. It’s not about wearing the latest labels or going to the latest hot spot that’s getting amazing reviews. A refined personal brand comes from within (with a little bit of work and polish of course)! Clinical psychologist and personal branding consultant Dr Lisa Orban of Golden Notebook, talks us through adding that lustre to your personal brand.
In personal branding (which, essentially, comes down to making a name for yourself), your “outer brand” is all about how you present yourself to the world and includes your communication skills, presence, personal style, grooming, and mannerisms. Let’s start with personal style.
Differentiate your Personal Style
No one wants to be a carbon copy of something they’ve seen in the latest edition of Vogue or Esquire, so work on differentiating your outer brand by mixing it up and adding your own touches. For inspiration, start by becoming more observant and take cues from not only the people immediately around you but also ones you meet at conferences, networking events, etc., as well as those you may see in the press. What is it about their style that comes across as signature touches, and most importantly, resonates with you? How can you make this your own?
Critically assess your wardrobe and accessories and look for things that are out of date, look worn or just need a little fixing and TLC. What items are the most flattering on you and give you that spring in your step? What items do you feel less than confident in? Pass them on to the charity collections and don’t look back.
Then consider what to add to your wardrobe to “kick things up a notch”, such as investing in select luxury items like a classic bag, watch, winter coat and shoes, and building on that as the weeks go by. Take your time, have fun and add to your new look piece by piece. Think about how each new item interacts with the pieces in your existing wardrobe, and work towards creating a versatile collection. In particular, look for a unique, memorable piece you can consistently add to your look, such as interesting glasses, a fabulous hat or fun pocket square, to differentiate your look.
It’s important to stay true not only to your own sense of style but also your environment and your body shape. You may yearn for the Audrey Hepburn look but have to accept that your body shape just cannot carry it off, or concede that you are just not going to be able to get away with your creativity and love of bold colours in your workplace.
Create a vision board that captures the feel of the look you are creating, or talk to a personal stylist and/or personal shopper about your inspirations, and develop something that works for you and your environment. Have patience and experiment with what feels more authentic. If something doesn’t suit you, turn your energies to working on what does work for you.
Step it up a Notch
Of course, taking care of grooming essentials like hair, nails and skin are essential for a polished personal brand — after all, the polish is in the details! Investing in your health and fitness is also vital to strong outer branding. Think of your body as the biggest advert of your personal brand. If you look healthy, it suggests that you’re taking care of yourself and you care about the way you look. In addition to all the “good stuff” that comes with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically, it is also an important part of the projecting the brand image you may want to convey. Step up your grooming as well as your health and fitness by making time to look and feel your best.
Polish your Presentation Skills
First and foremost, your brand needs to get noticed by others. This includes the ability to make a positive impression through your personal presence, personal impact and effective communication. Work on making an impact in meetings, presentation and networking opportunities. Practise enhancing whatever skills you have to, whether it’s perfecting a firm handshake, or speaking up in a meeting where you would usually sit quietly. Think about opportunities to build your personal presence (e.g., attending social activities, benefits, networking events), and how to “work a room” to make yourself known (and memorable!) at social events.
Perhaps most importantly, think about how you are communicating. The days of hiding an accent are long over, thankfully, but if you are looking to polish your personal brand, it pays to avoid slang, swearing, and just making sure that, if you do have an accent, people can understand you. Good eye contact, posture, body language, vocal projection and annunciation can make all the difference in the impression we give to others.
Harness the Power of Co-branding
Co-branding is an important aspect of building your personal brand but is often sadly overlooked. The corporate big boys have known for decades that the power of a brand intensifies exponentially if paired with the right branding partner. Think about the magic of certain brand pairings, such as the luxury coolness factor resulting from Louis Vuitton’s cult artist collaborations, or the supercharged brand status of discount retailer H&M after luxury designer collaborations. Just like corporate brands, certain aspects of your personal brand are enhanced when joining endeavours with an esteemed and recognisable brand…by the sheer power of association. Co-branding not only includes the people you work and associate with, but also the projects or causes you are involved with. Think about your passions or the causes that resonate with you, and identify opportunities to collaborate on projects, charity fundraisers or events to create your own co-branding opportunities.
Last but not least, be patient. Strong personal brands don’t happen overnight. Like any quality brand, they develop and strengthen over time. Accept it will take time for your personal brand to evolve rather than magically transform into an upgraded, polished you overnight.
Bringing together her extensive training, experience and passion in both psychology and branding, Dr. Lisa Orban founded Golden Notebook. A clinical psychologist, Lisa trained and practised in New York City for eleven years before relocating to London. Lisa helps clients make a name for themselves by discovering their distinct and authentic personal brand. She takes a unique approach to personal branding that combines psychological assessment and theory with branding strategies to create for powerful and enduring individual change and personal impact. She is currently offering complimentary introductory consultations.