Spoiler alert! We are all human. And as humans, we have a long history of judging others by their appearance. I believe the consensus is that we aren’t to judge a book by its cover, but the truth is that it’s so part of our nature. Think about it: whether you believe it or not, you made a judgment on my page. Hopefully a good one because you’re still reading this post. Point of the matter is: there is just no way to avoid the inevitable judgment of others.
What does that have to do with branding yourself? It has almost everything to do with branding yourself! Looks have a huge influence on our judgment of a brand or a person (Kaputa, 2012). It filters down to creating a first good impression. This first good impression will hopefully start up what sociologists call the “halo effect,” which states that if something is attractive, people tend to assign many other positive attributes to it, even if they have nothing to do with looks.
An impression is made within the first 2 seconds. As of now, what type of impression are you making? What does your visual identity say about you, regardless if it’s true or not?
Three factors determine a “good look” that will make you stand out for the better:
- Be distinguishably fashionable. As Kaputa has already established, our visual identity is crucial to establishing a brand for oneself. Although it’s one thing to have a nice, clean cut fashion sense, it’s entirely another thing to be distinguishable. Find something that separates you from everyone else. Founder of TOMS shoes, Blake Mycoskie, did just that with his colorful, hipster-style plaid pants. Not only was his style unique, it made him approachable. Which leads me to the second factor…
- Be approachable. You want people to feel comfortable with you, not intimidated by you (unless intimidation is what you’re into). Really grasp what type of vibe you are giving off just by letting your clothes do the talking. You don’t want to scare aware your potential clients!
- And of course, reflect the style that is representing you. This is extremely important. You could look the coolest guy in the world. Maybe from afar, someone takes a look at you and thinks “this fella looks like a fella I can have an comfortable and witty conversation with.” All of this could be established…but if you don’t act the part – if you genuinely aren’t the person you’re dressed as – then something isn’t on track.
Remember: your image is a shadow of who you are as a person. But even shadows can be ambiguous. Reconstruct your image to positively and genuinely represent yourself. The magic begins there.
For more information and in-depth details concerning your self-image, check out You Are a Brand! by Catherine Kaputa.
Kaputa, Catherine, and Catherine Kaputa. You are a brand!: in person and online, how smart people brand themselves for business success. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Pub., 2012. Print.