You are a business professional. Your clients want more value than ever before. Clients want creative solutions to their nagging problems, differentiating factors that add up to be worth their investment. That’s why Personal Branding is more important now than ever before. But just what does personal brand and professional image mean? Is it just buying a bunch of new clothes? No. It’s so much more.
- Peter Montoya in his book “The Brand Called You” defines A personal brand as: “A clear, powerful, compelling image held in the minds of the people with whom you come in contact.” He goes on to say, “Your personal brand is you, enhanced and expressed using polished, well crafted communication methods.”
Polished, well crafted communication methods – here’s an amazing statistic: studies show that at least 80% of communication is visual. The psychologist Jerome Bruner of New York University did research and discovered that people only remember about 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, but 80% of what they do or see.
A study by the U.S. government found up to 83% of learning is visual, and Dr. Mehrabian’s research found it to be closer to 93%. The exact number is irrelevant. The valuable information here is that a huge percentage of communication is nonverbal, in other words, what we see and experience.
And according to William Arruda, THE international brand specialist, when you meet someone for the 1st time, they form an instant impression of you. If you want him or her to change that impression, studies show that it will take an additional 18 encounters! That’s a lot of time…and work. And we don’t always have that kind of time.
We get one shot to make a first impression. You get to decide how important the investment is, for that one shot. Because the thing is, everyone has a personal brand whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not. You can’t not have a brand. Think of the last business meeting or professional event you attended. Think of just one person at that meeting, someone who stands out in your mind. Visualize their image. Remember them speaking; not only what they said, but how they spoke. What are they known for? How would you describe them? That’s their brand.
The trouble is, most people are branded accidentally; they have no idea they’ve been developing a brand over time so they fail to capitalize on their strengths and continue to be sabotaged by their brand’s weaknesses.
It doesn’t matter what your intention is, what matters is the other person’s perception… because perception is….(you know this)…reality.
In order to have a strong personal brand, your image, how you are seen, what you’re known for, needs to be consistent with how you wish to be known. Your image; your appearance, body language, and verbal communication must be authentic, intentional, and consistent.
Authentic, meaning genuine, 100% you – the real deal, in powerful leadership mode. Intentional, meaning everything is deliberate, has been chosen beforehand, leaving nothing up to chance or nothing is accidental. And consistent; every time, always, never wavering.
We must define our brand intentionally and communicate it consistently in every engagement, every encounter, every entrance.
My experience consulting with business professionals reveals that work on personal image reaps higher levels of respect, confidence, productivity, and income. Daniel S. Hamermesh, professor of economics at Univ. of London has done years of extensive research here in the U.S. and claims that our appearance can be the difference of between 90,000 – $250,000. over a lifetime. It’s worth the effort.