Personal branding is just a fancy way of saying that you’re developing a conscious idea of what kind of image you want to cultivate. It’s part of “acting as if” and “faking it until you make it.” When you start to act as if, your brain begins to believe that you are what you’re acting out and it becomes easier for you to actually be what you’re aspiring toward. This isn’t just speculation anymore. It’s hard, scientific fact. But how do you develop a personal image to get what you want? Read on, because the answer is a lot simpler than you think.
What Do You Want to Get?
The important thing to ask yourself up front is what you’re trying to get by personal branding and developing your image. For example, do you want to get a better job? If so, you’re going to want to cultivate a more professional image. Are you trying to show off your new gym body? In this case, you want to start wearing clothes that fit your properly. Do you want to meet “edgier” women? You’ll want to start crafting more of a “bad boy” image. What you want to get doesn’t matter. It just matters that you know what it is that you’re after, as this will inform what your image will be.
Image Needs to Be Honest
Here’s a crucial thing to remember: Your image needs to be honest. If you’re a CPA, your “bad boy” image isn’t going to be leather jeans and a spiked collar. You can use image to shift how you are perceived, but it’s difficult to use it to completely change who you are. Do a bit of soul searching to bridge the gap between who you are, how you are perceived and how you want to be perceived going forward. Always remember that talking the talk isn’t enough — you have to walk the walk as well.
Step One: Appearance
The first thing you need to do is get the right threads. This is actually a lot easier than you might think and does not require a huge investment up front. Second-hand stores let you get clothes on the cheap, and at first all you need really is one outfit for the club. Also remember that a pair of shoes and the right pants are versatile, easily changed up with the right shirt and accessories. Go for basics where possible, as it’s easier to mix and match these.
Step Two: Smell
A lot of American men don’t think of smell as a part of their outfit. On the other hand, European men wouldn’t be caught dead in public without their scent on. The trick here is to go for something that’s not cheap (inexpensive is negotiable… “cheap” never is), distinctive (the problem with commercial body sprays isn’t so much what they smell like, it’s that they leave you smelling like everyone else) and subtle (you only want people who are standing right next to you to smell it). Think of your scent as a bit like a personal calling card — you want people to remember it and to know you by it.
Step Three: Behaviors
Remember what we said about walking the walk. No matter what image you’ve decided to cultivate, you need to carry it out, particularly when in front of others. One thing to keep in mind is that playing a role can easily slip over into your “real” life, so never select an image that you’re not willing to live 24-7. Like the old saying goes, always tell the truth because it’s the easiest thing to remember. Once you’ve decided on the personal branding image you want to project, consider having a couple of simple daily rituals that remind you of what it is you’re going for, for example during grooming.
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