What sets you apart from your competition?
Is it your experience? Maybe.
Is it your qualifications? Perhaps.
Is it your outstanding customer service? That certainly helps.
In business, there’s a lot of talk about USPs (unique selling points). And while you may differentiate yourself from the rest of the market on price, service offering, or convenience - as a solopreneur, your real USP is always going to be YOU. Or, more specifically, your personal brand.
Your personal brand consists of many things – your behavior, the way you speak, the kind of language you use. It’s what people find when they Google you. And, of course, it’s your style and image.
What’s personal style?
Personal style is the most genuine way to communicate to the world who you are. The way you dress influences the way you carry yourself and even the way you behave, speak and interact with others.
If your personal style is well-defined and shows the real and authentic you, it will empower you and give you confidence from within. It will communicate the right message to people about who you are - even before you talk to them.
However, if your personal brand can work for you, it can also work against you. Whether you’re being intentional about your image or not, how you present yourself sends many messages (consciously and subconsciously) to everyone you come across, both online and in person.
When it comes to your personal style, if you ever think “Why bother, no one cares!” you are partly right because, yes, no one really cares about what you wear. And yet, their brain will immediately form an impression of you when you meet.
And the brain won’t factor in context, so even if you’re “just dropping off the kids” or “doing your grocery shopping”, whenever you meet someone new (or bump into someone who you already know), their subconscious mind will form an opinion based on the clues it senses. Things like:
- Your body language
- The tone of your voice
- How well-groomed you are
- How put-together you are
- How clean and ironed your clothes are
- How confident you are
- What kind of vibes and energy you project
What is a Personal Brand?
In others words, your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
I’m going to repeat it – your brand is not dependant on how intentional you are about creating and maintaining it. People will form an opinion about you based on what they see when they meet you, when they look at your social media profiles, when they read your posts or your articles, and when they hear you speak.
This covers both your professional and personal identity, as these days you can’t really detach the two. The days of the classic 9-5 are over. Regardless of your profession, you’ll have a hard time separating your “work persona” from your “private persona”. In this social media age everything is accessible, and as soon as you create a profile, you’ve established your online personal brand.
Basically, you are continually under the spotlight, no matter what. And the easiest way to maintain a stress-free and authentic personal brand is to simply be yourself 24/7!
What this doesn't mean is that you should be “perfect” all the time (in fact being vulnerable can be very powerful) – you just need to be YOURSELF. Therefore, no matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, people will know who you are, what you stand for, and what they can expect from you.
Wherever you go live on Facebook, post a photo, or bump into someone in the supermarket, they recognize your style. Whatever you write, people will know that it’s you. Whatever you say is mirroring the image you projected and the feelings you evoked.
The moment that your appearance, behaviour, actions, words and overall image are all in alignment with your true personality, mission and purpose, is the moment when you start to become irresistible!
A successful personal brand is a mix of packaging, marketing and selling. Yet, it’s only sustainable when you are authentic and radiate your message from within.
Personal Brand vs Fashion
What may surprise you is that personal style has little to do with fashion. It’s about taking the items that fashion has to offer and turning them into something that expresses YOUR personality and YOUR tastes.
None of the style icons were ever remembered for how often they changed their wardrobe. In fact, they were remembered because they developed such a unique and recognizable look that everyone (even now – 20, 50, 70 years later) can recall. Who can ever forget the signature looks of Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly or Lady Diana?
Your personal style is the foundation of your professional (and personal!) image. No matter what you are doing in life, you have an “image”, and consequently a personal brand.
Do I need to invest in my personal brand?
To anyone wondering if they should be investing in their personal brand, I would ask, “Can you afford not to?”
Whether you conduct most of your business online or in person, your personal brand will determine what kind of clients you attract, how much they will pay, and it will influence how your clients and suppliers treat you.
So, if you’re completely happy with the way that your life and business are going, if you’re happy with what you’re earning, and you’re not planning on expanding your comfort zone anytime soon, then investing in your personal brand isn’t something you need to make a priority.
But I know for a fact that you’re reading this article because you want to up-level your life and business. That you’re looking for that six-figure income. That you have horizons to expand and explore.
In which case, nailing your personal brand is of the utmost importance.
To “invest” suggests that there will be a financial cost, and, as with most things in business, spending a little extra to get it right nearly always pays off. However, although I don’t like to disagree with Mme. Chanel, you don’t need to go high-end designer to cultivate a high-end brand. Additionally, spending time and effort are just as vital as getting out your credit card.
Your starting point should be to set your style intentions – you can find my guide on how to do that HERE.
Next, work through these 5 steps to begin building your powerful personal brand.
Then schedule some time to design and plan your image by creating a Style Vision Board.
By this point, you should be getting clarity on your personal brand and the messages you want to project – all without spending a single cent!
In the second part of this blog, I’ll be explaining how to figure out and structure your style budget, but until then, why don’t you download your free copy of my Ultimate Chic-Sheet – an easy to use resource containing all of my best styling advice to ensure that you look and feel fantastic every single day of your life.
Get it here...
Veronika Nemeth is a Style Coach & Image Consultant, based in Milan, Italy. She works with ambitious businesswomen and female entrepreneurs who have a desire to create a unique & authentic image that enhances both their professional & personal lives.
Veronika’s mission is to empower women to build wildly successful businesses & lives by creating a confident, authentic & stylish personal brand.
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