You are your brand. You’re a walking, talking advertisement for yourself and what’s on the outside does make an impression. Whether you are working on branding yourself as a public relations pro, business owner, stylist, whatever, if you want people to believe it, then the outside has to match the inside.
Good news! You totally have the ability to change people’s perception based on what you wear and how you present yourself. Celebrities regularly reinvent themselves or freshen up their image. To find out how, we asked branding pros and fashion stylists to share their expert tips on how to incorporate your personal brand into your style. After all, we’re all just trying to make a good, on-brand impression and create the lives we want, right? So give yourself a style assessment and see if your exterior matches what you’re selling.
Think of yourself as a brand.
Not sure what you’re selling? It’s yourself. You don’t have to be Oprah or Rachel Zoe to think of yourself in this way.
“The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners do create and, in fact, become brands. Their brands are based on the experience they promise and the values they live by and share,” says branding expert and Mavens & Moguls founder & CEO, Paige Arnof-Fenn. Once you realize this, you can start to tailor your style to fit how you’d like to be received.
Define what you are trying to say.
Before you can incorporate your personal brand into your style, you need to first figure out what you want your brand has to say. When considering what to wear, fashion stylist Elysha Lenkin suggests we “think about the words that describe your brand and use those to define your style.”
Is your brand wild? Serious? Sexy? Current? Chic? Upscale? Down to Earth? Techy? Now look at your outfit and overall appearance. What adjectives come to mind?
Dorie Clark, the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, has an exercise for us to try. "Start by asking five or six of your friends a simple question: if you only had three words to describe me, what would they be? This quick exercise can be illuminating because it cuts through the clutter and helps you determine what other people find most memorable or compelling about you. It also helps provide a reality check, because if you really want to be known as 'innovative,' but the adjectives your friends use are more in line with 'traditional,' you know you need to shake things up."
Get your style in line with what you want it to say, no contradictions. If you work for PETA would you go out in fur? That’s obviously a more extreme example, but same idea goes for other fashion choices. “Create a brand manifesto,” recommends stylist and image consultant Alexandra Suzanne Greenawalt, to stay on point and in line with your brand. Or make a Pinterest board with style inspiration that feels in line with your brand.
Highlight what’s unique.
Don’t go changing too much. You are unique and need to keep that going for you. There’s only one you so start asking yourself what makes you unique or special.
“Is it your voice? Height? Eye color? Athletic ability? Fluency in foreign languages? An invention or patent? Whatever it is, use it to your advantage,” says Arnof-Fenn. She adds, “Everyone remembers the original, but the copycats start blending together after a while, so differentiate yourself to stand out from the pack. Be remarkable and extraordinary to grab attention and get noticed.”
Try out a signature style.
Signatures don’t work for everyone so don’t feel limited. Celebrities often have a signature style, only to switch it for the next movie role or album release. A signature is memorable and can be almost anything — a red lip, regularly wearing unique hats, scarves, whatever. If it’s your signature, then you wear that style a lot, like a real lot.
DO think it through and what it will say about you. "Crazy socks may read as 'fun and creative' — a great asset at an advertising agency, but maybe not at an investment bank," say Clark.
Use color to convey a message.
Maybe wearing the same color on the regular comes more naturally. Color can be quite powerful on the way you’re perceived. Too much color can be overwhelming while the wrong color won’t do justice.
Lenkin recommends to think about the emotions you want your brand to convey when choosing a color to wear. Brights and big prints work for a brand that’s cheerful, while black and white suit a more chic, upscale style and blue comes across as serene and intuitive. Take a look at logos and colors, you’ll see that similar businesses use the same colors. That’s not an accident as color speaks, loudly.
Be true to you.
"Authentic expressions of yourself, the key to embedding personal branding into your style is to make choices that are in alignment with the true you," says Lankin. In short, take the great things about you and highlight them. The brand is you, so own it.