Clothes Make Your Brand Quick, you’ve got less than 30 seconds to make a first impression. Does it accurately portray your professional self? An image consultant offers advice. Make It Work
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Make It Work  |   May 01, 2015
Clothes Make Your Brand
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Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Psychogenic Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Make It Work
Make It Work   |   May 01, 2015
Clothes Make Your Brand
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.20052015.30
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.20052015.30
People form first impressions of others in less than 30 seconds—and appearance significantly shapes those perceptions.
Whether you are a man or a woman, how you dress and how you package yourself—from your hair style to the clothes and accessories you choose—tell a story about you. Moreover, studies show how you feel about how you look has a significant impact on your self-confidence.
It’s all about creating a personal brand: the image you want to convey. Creating a personal brand is much like creating a business brand. A business just getting off the ground will create a mission statement, logo, look and feel as it puts its business plan together. These choices will drive all business decisions from that point forward: office space, personnel, product line and customer service.
You can do the same.
What not to do
How you dress could be considered your most valuable communication tool. In general, we know what not to wear. Too much cleavage on a woman or a scruffy beard on a man may attract undesired attention and impair professional effectiveness. An unkempt look is equally an image-killer: Right or wrong, we translate a sloppy look to mean a sloppy work ethic or lack of attention to details.
Consider taking it a step further, however: Tell a story, unique to you, with how you dress. It will set you apart from the crowd, and get you noticed in desirable ways.
Your personal brand
Write a personal mission statement. Drill down to four or five adjectives you want to own as your style—words that will describe who you are. As with a business, your personal brand will drive all other decisions you will make about your appearance.
Are you edgy, driven, confident and smart? Creative, interesting, demure and proper? Approachable, loyal, trustworthy and dedicated? In describing yourself, set aside preconceived ideas of what a professional in your field looks like. Be authentic and choose four or five adjectives that define you.
All health service providers are not created equal. You can come across as polished and professional with a variety of looks. Think about who you are as an individual and work to bring this description into your visual presentation. Your look may change, as you want to match the custom and culture of the occasion. But you can also bring self-expression into the mix in subtle ways: The types of fabrics, colors and accessories you choose can be understated touches that will allow you not only to appear pulled together, but also help communicate your personal brand.
Conversely, simple missteps can convey the wrong message. After you choose the image you want to project, the next task is to understand and appreciate your body type and to dress in ways that leave you showing yourself at your best. It’s not just what you’re wearing but how your clothes fit you.
Thinking about yourself as a brand is a powerful concept, and you can dress to “fit” your brand on any budget. It all starts with knowing who you are and deciding what image you want to convey.
It takes time to build a closet full of clothes that work for you. But your efforts will pay off if you shop with a plan and spend time considering how you look now and where you want to take your personal image. It will leave you feeling empowered, and you will exude self-confidence.
Do you pass the test?

How do you score on this image test? Give yourself two points for every statement that describes you.

  1. I know my personal brand, I always shop and dress with this in mind. I never wear clothes without thinking about what image they will project.

  2. I know about my body proportions and my body shape; I know what clothes look best on me.

  3. My clothes fit me very well. There is no pinching at the waist, my pant length is right where it needs to be, the cuffs of my jackets are just right.

  4. When people look at me they can tell right away that I’m someone who takes care of details. My shoes are polished, my purse or briefcase is of good quality, and my belt doesn’t show any hints of wear or change in waist size.

  5. My hair is more than cut, it’s styled by someone who knows how to make me look my best.

  6. My clothes are always clean and if a shirt or jacket is wrinkled, I press it. No one has to say to me, “Hey, did you know you have a stain on your shirt?” I take care of my clothes. I always present myself in a respectful way.

  7. When I shake someone’s hand, I’m never self-conscious. I groom my fingernails and don’t have chipped nail polish.

  8. I know which colors make me look the best. My wardrobe consists of only clothes that help me reflect my best self. Colors that don’t flatter me left my wardrobe long ago.

  9. When I buy clothes, I take them to my tailor, who knows exactly what to do to help me get the best fit. I take pride in knowing that I’m someone who walks out the door every day in clothes that fit well. I never look sloppy or disheveled.

  10. I don’t wear too much cologne or perfume.

Scoring:

18–20 points: Read no further. You are most definitely conveying a strong, polished image that is making heads turn. I’m sure this will positively affect your personal and professional success. Great job!

12–16 points: You understand how image works for or against you in the workplace. With a few tweaks, you’ll be on top of your image game in no time.

8–10 points: Your image is not working in your favor. Don’t panic. Consider making some changes if you want to project a winning image. Professional image consultants can help you along the way.

0–6 points: Your personal image needs updating.

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May 2015
Volume 20, Issue 5