While I have been spending the last 2 weeks of December 2009 just relaxing and spending time with my family, especially my little girl, I have witnessed the frenzy of Christmas shoppers in both the cities of Singapore and Malaysia – the two cities I am currently based in.
I work with a lot of women in my field of training in Personal Image and Empowerment and I have discovered that many women are very concerned about their appearances and how they can beautify themselves better.
This leads me to the topic of personal brands and labels. Whether we like or not we are constantly judging people by their looks on the outside. We have been guilty of branding others based on education, looks, weight, “perceived intelligence”, colour of the skin, the colour of their hair, height, wealth, culture, who we marry, the bags we carry etc etc. We are constantly branding others and in turn are branded branded branded.
Companies who sell consumer products know just how to tap this emotion of insecurity to further promote their products.
Women I work with in my training are concerned about what others think of them especially how they look like. Often they are unhappy when others misjudge them based on their outer appearance and want to know how to make themselves appear “IN”. Male prisoners, I work with also have an insecurity issue about how society will brand them after they leave prison. They want to know how to fit in, how to re-brand themselves away from their criminal past and how to be accepted. Executives and CEOS that I work with also want to learn how to make themselves look more trustworthy, approachable yet representable of their position and to basically learn how to fit in better with their group.
Basically, this represents human behaviour and in today’s high society, people are getting even more concerned with how they are perceived by others. From my experience, women particularly are more concerned about their image and how others in the society see them. Again, whether we like it or not, we are always branded by others. My take on this? Brand yourself first before others brand you…and do not allow yourself to be branded by what material things you have or wear.
So how do you brand yourself and what should your brand be? Well, the vision is YOURS.
1. First of all, what is the industry that you want to brand yourself in when it comes to your career? When you stay in a certain industry, people will remember you as the person who bakes cakes, or the entrepreneur mom, or the lady who organises events, etc. You want to be remembered as someone people can associate with a particular industry. The danger of people who moves around too much across industries often is when people cannot associate her with someone committed in her career…and that would be her “brand”!
2. Who is your target audience? Who are you basically branding yourself for? Is it for your work? For your customers? Friends? How do you want yourself to be perceived by them? Always remember that your audience will remember you based on the first time you presented yourself to them so be yourself, be honest and be comfortable. Often people are not themselves the first time they meet new people that they get comments like, “you know, the first time we met you we thought you were…….., but now, wow! You’re not at all like that..” It sounds like a praise, but really, it is a message that what we project may not be who we really are. This can go against you in the future when you are in a job interview, meeting new people or presenting for the first time to a group of potential clients.
3. Which of your personality traits and passions will resonate with your target audience? Similarities always make people feel closer together so highlight the similarities whether in the language and “slang” you use, or clothes that you wear. However, always keep in mind to be yourself. Do not put on a fake accent your lie about your background. A person does not have to learn lie detection skills to feel a fake.
4. What is the most important skill the target audience should know about? When you can relay this message through your work, through promoting your brand to others, this skill will remain in the minds of your target audience.
5. What makes you credible? Integrity, responsibility, commitment are values that people will remember you by. A strong personal brand is when a person hears your name or sees you, a certain positive feeling or thought comes into play. This feeling or emotion that others feel about you is that brand that you carry. Remember, whatever comes out of your actions, your mouth, your thoughts and reactions create this brand called “YOU”. If you constantly say things that are not reflected in your actions or the results that you show constantly, your brand becomes “untrustworthy”.
How do create reinforce your brand through your demeanour?
1. Dress according to how you want to be perceived
2. Always take care of your personal hygiene. Often times, people dress well and say all the right things but the two major deal breakers are bad breath and body odour. Somehow these overtake a person’s good personal brand.
3. Do you look rested? Women have this advantage with makeup to camouflage tired looking eyes J
4. What you wear every day also affects your brand
5. What comes out of your mouth when you speak
6. Who do you surround yourself with constantly
In this new year, many resolves to make positive changes with their lives – some of these resolutions could be to rebrand or reinvent themselves. You can create your change. However, be aware that perhaps the people who do not support your change or trust your change mostly come from family members who claim they know you better. I believe that only you know yourself better and the best way is to present the real you to others and not be someone you are not just to please others.
I wish you all the best in this NEW YEAR! May all your New Year resolutions come true faster than you expect. I know one of my resolutions include to brand others less and work on myself more. With Love & Respect,
M &Z Empowerment Centre in KL and Singapore
Founder and Director