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How important is your personal brand?

Hint: it tells the world who you are without you saying a word!

There are only three options to this question: very…not…and what is a personal brand?

We are well into months of work-from-home duty, virtual meetings, and trying to keep the days of the week straight. The trip from the bedroom to the living room or home office is getting shorter and shorter, and many are now paying less and less attention to what we look like on screen – when we do turn on the camera.

When the issue of “how to dress” or “how to look” is brought up in conversation, either in person or as a social media post, you can be assured that some of the first responses will be similar to, “Why does it matter? I should be judged for my intelligence and performance rather than my looks.” And many will agree, and then feign irritation at being asked such a ridiculous question.

And on some level, I do agree. Our outward appearance doesn’t always match the quality inside. The ole’ “don’t just a book by its cover,” response applies well, or even a “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” I’ve fallen victim to it. Years ago I thought a homeless woman has wandered into our office, when in fact she was the multi-millionaire farm owner friend of my boss. I got my young ego checked but good that day.

But then there’s the flip slide. If visual cues weren’t so important…and branding did nothing to influence anyone or shouldn’t hold any influence over you…they why is there an entire industry operating with just that goal?

One industry report says that the marketing industry is “expected to reach $107,540.6 million by 2026, and grow at a CAGR of 14.3% from 2019 to 2026.” Just the brand awareness segment alone “is predicted to generate a revenue of $33,739.7 million.” That’s a nice little chunk of change that deserves attention.

Wait…what is branding you ask? According to Brandingmag (and apologies for being rather long, but I love it!), it’s “a marketing practice in which a company creates a name, symbol or design that is easily identifiable as belonging to the company…and helps to identify a product and distinguish it from other products and services. Branding is important because not only is it what makes a memorable impression on consumers but it allows your customers and clients to know what to expect from your company. It is a way of distinguishing yourself from the competitors and clarifying what it is you offer that makes you the better choice. Your brand is built to be a true representation of who you are as a business, and how you wish to be perceived.”

Read that last part again: how you wish to be perceived.

Yet, some of the same people who understand the importance of marketing and branding sound almost offended when the idea of one’s physical appearance is brought up. They claim that your clothing and anything else about your appearance should be neither judged nor used to define anything about them.

Somehow, these same professionals miss the point of appearances – they represent your personal brand and convey your message, in very much the same way that a company logo, corporate color scheme, and corporate brand is developed.