It’s human nature to make assumptions about people based on what we see. We believe our perceptions paint an accurate picture of the person. First impressions happen in a matter of seconds, and are very difficult to change.
Personal branding is a way of communicating what differentiates you from everyone else – your values, passions, strengths, and personal style. It’s your unique promise of value.
Your “Signature Style” is the expression of your personal brand through your clothes and appearance. It visually communicates your brand message and personality. It’s a powerful way to stand out in today’s competitive landscape.
So, how do you translate your personal brand into your signature style? My new Mirror Your Message workbook helps women define their signature style based on their brand. It merges key principles of branding and style to help women achieve their goals and “dress the part”. It covers these key principles.
1) Have a Style Point of View
People have expectations about what you should look like in your profession. The magic happens when your appearance instantly reinforces your role, and communicates your unique brand and personality.
2) Be Authentic
You don’t need gimmicks or false personas. You want to bring out the real you, expressing it through your style. The key to personal branding and your signature style is in its authenticity. Why struggle attempting to assume the appearance of someone you’re not?
3) Consistency Matters
First impressions can be planned. We wear our best suit when we prepare for an important engagement. But what about the rest of the time? What message does your style deliver when it’s an uneventful day at work or you’re running errands around town? You never know when chance encounters will lead to a great opportunity.
Now, you don’t need to wear your best suit every day, but regardless of the occasion or environment, you should be wearing appropriate attire that goes along with your brand.
4) It Takes Some Work
For most women, style doesn’t just magically happen. It may appear effortless, and you may assume it’s a natural-born talent. In reality, it takes some work.
You’ve seen that woman who effortlessly and consistently rocks a signature style. You can be sure that the secret to her success is planning (and in the case of celebrities, it may also involve a team of image professionals!). Stylish women take the time to determine styles and colors that work for them; maximize their options within their budget; create a consistent “look” that works for them; and employ smart organizational and shopping strategies.
5) Learn the Basics of Style
As an architect designing your personal brand, consider basic style principles (Fit, Color, Quality, Accessorizing, etc.) as your foundation. You need to know what styles and colors look best on you and how to wear them.
6) Mirror Your Message
When you look in a full-length mirror, you should see your own best advertising gazing back at you. Your image is influenced by external factors; and your identity is influenced by your personality and values. Your signature style is the sum of image plus identity. The goal of personal branding is to influence how other people perceive you.
In your business or your work environment, whether there is a dress code or not, there are rules to follow. The challenge is that the rules are vague or specify what not to do. Here’s your opportunity to define this dress code for yourself and your brand, using your power of observation.
By understanding the design characteristics of clothes, you can decipher the messages they’re sending. Take jackets as an example: a blue, traditional cut, suit jacket says “I mean business, I’m to be taken seriously”. Conversely, a black leather jacket says, “I’m adventuresome, relaxed and having fun!”
7) Avoid Gimmicks for Gimmick Sake
Don’t let uniqueness and quirkiness go too far! Bright colored hair may result in your being memorable for the wrong reasons! Reaction to your look depends on your brand and profession. A purple-haired accountant will get unpleasant stares, while a purple-haired musician or artist won’t get a second look. However, if you’re wearing something true to your style, and you are known for this, then by all means leverage it as part of your signature style.
For more information, and how to get your copy of my Mirror Your Message workbook, Email me at Carolyn@FirstImpressionStyle.com