How do we remember any brand? The possible answers could be its logo or name or punch lines. We see or hear them and we get used to their appearance, which is governed by design, color, shape or symbols. Similarly individuals and personalities are also remembered or judged through their appearances because human memory is photogenic and our mind keeps clicking pictures of people we meet. When you go to any gatherings, be it social or professional, you remember people who looked either the best or were seemingly out of place. You might not remember their name or their qualifications or titles, but your memory has their face ingrained.
We all must have sometime or the other been a recipient of this statement – I have seen you somewhere however I cannot seem to remember your name or where we met. This is because our brain clicks pictures and that image is fetched from one’s memory when we see the same person again. Let us relate this to social media websites. Most of us, if not all, have social media profiles. Many of us keep updating our profiles and keep our best pictures there to make positive impressions on those viewing our profiles.
This is exactly how it needs to work in the physical world as well. The first step in creating an individual brand begins with building our image “inside out” so that the picture clicked in others’ brains leaves a mark in their memory. What does it mean? It suggests that we need to start with believing, appreciating, loving & respecting ourselves. Because the way we think about us is the way we feel about us. This in turn decides on how we appear and behave in front of others and results in how they react to us.
Positive thinking and belief that we are worthy, capable and deserving can boost our confidence and get us positive reactions from our customers or employers. It also works the other way. If our self confidence is low, it reflects in our conduct and then it spirals into a lose game. Our next focus should be on our external appearance which includes the clothes which we wear, accessories we choose and how we carry ourselves. If we ask the base question on why we need clothes, many responses could be around that they help us to cover our body, provide protection in adverse weather conditions and also help us look good. Let us think beyond the obvious. Let us take a sneak peek into a typical schedule of ours.
When we go for exercise in the morning, we change from nightwear to track pants & tees or some other exercise attire. When we go out for work or meetings, we change clothes based on the kind of work we need to do. In the evening if we need to go for any birthday party or social gathering, we change our clothes. Why do we change our clothes numerous times in a day based on the kind of event? Wearing appropriate clothes is a key factor in external appearance. Appropriateness means that we look the part we are there to play. A business party and a business meeting are two separate occasions and require different attires. Many factors like venue of the meeting, purpose & nature of the meeting, your own objective of attending the meeting and the kind of people you are meeting – all these and more decide the appropriateness of the attire.
I was recently interacting with graduates with a fashion and interior design background and asked them on what their professional dresscode was. To my surprise, it turned out to be trousers or skirts with shirt in blue, black or white color. Do you think people from creative backgrounds should wear similar kind of clothes which people from management or technical fields wear to look professional? In creative fields like fashion, your professional clothes can also convey your skills or talent while being appropriate and functional. Will that not be more impactful than talking about the institute you belong to?
You should also be comfortable and be able to carry what you wear with ease so that it doesn’t look like you have borrowed clothes or styles. That could be a deterrent to your external appearance and image as you might become overly conscious of your looks and might get fidgety. One common myth that surrounds most professionals is that western clothes are most appropriate for business. But today, there are enough Indian styles available which are equally appropriate for business.
Be yourself, be appropriate and that will make you look and feel good. Let us also look at one often used word for external appearances – ‘attractive’. Being attractive means our overall presence is pleasing to the other person and nothing is distracting or out of place about our appearance. A friend of mine recently went to meet the Head of Department of an organization. She had to walk through the office corridor to reach his cabin. Her shoes made a lot of noise and as she passed by every cubicle, people started looking up to see who it was and even the Head could not but notice her shoes as she walked towards his desk. So minute things like this can leave not-so-nice memories in people’s heads. To build a strong personal brand, both your external appearances and inner feelings have major roles to play. You need to dress and behave like an achiever to be one!