Branding is everything, especially in the fashion industry. When you hear of fashion brands like Michael Kors or Coach, Gucci, or Ralph Lauren, you immediately have an image or feeling that appears in your mind. But what about personal brands? Are they really necessary to have? In our opinion, yes! And so much so, that we feel that building a personal brand could even make or break your new business!
So what is personal branding?
According to Wikipedia, “Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization”
We’re not talking about shameless self-promotion here, we’re talking about building a personal brand that shows the value you are able to provide to others and what you represent as an individual. It’s about being authentic, and not trying to be someone you’re not.
You are your brand. You are a walking, talking advertisement of yourself. Whether you are a boss, employee, student, unemployed, or an entrepreneur, building a personal brand is crucial in this day and age, especially if you are a startup fashion brand!
Why building a Personal Brand is Important;
Your personal brand reflects who you are and how you are perceived. The truth is that we are constantly being judged every single day. Not only on what we wear, but also our body language and the way we communicate. In fact 55% of a first impression is based on how we are dressed. And if you are in fashion, I would say that number is probably even higher. This is why, not only is it important to have style, but also it’s important what your personal style says about you.
Whether you are meeting a potential investor, going to a networking event, or on a Skype call with your factory, you should always be mindful of how you want others to perceive you.
One of the things I always ask all of my clients is how do you want to be perceived?
Then I list a series of adjectives and allow them to select the ones that resonate with them. Based on this information, together we can determine a personal style that meets their goals, preferences, and lifestyle.
I meet too many new designers trying to break into the industry and their personal style is a wreck or they look like they just rolled out of bed. This is unacceptable in the fashion industry. Others will judge your ability as a designer, based on your own personal style. Employers will look at your social media pages before even considering you as a candidate. And manufacturers and investors won’t take you seriously.
By having a well defined personal brand, it will allow you to;
- Demonstrate the best you
- Connect and interact with like-minded people
- Show you are trustworthy
- Express your values and mission
- Showcase your specialty
- Increase your social influence
- Strengthen your business
- Set yourself apart from your competition
- Attract bigger and better opportunities
- Become fearless & build confidence
With all the technology out there really making us less social, people are craving the human aspect. By developing a personal brand, people will begin to Know, Like, and Trust you, which we all know, equals more sales! People buy from people, not companies. With all the competition out there and everyone knocking each other off, sometimes the only distinguishing factor is YOU! I know for me, I’d rather spend my money with a person I like rather than someone I don’t.
How to Create a Personal Brand;
Ask yourself what makes you unique and what separates your style from others. Do you have a mission statement? If not maybe take some time to get clear on your values and write one. This will help bring clarity and focus. If you’re still stuck, try one of these three tips;
1. Signature Look
Try having a signature look. Maybe you like wearing big hats? Funky frames? Or an edgy hairstyle? Even just a simple red lip could be a signature look. As long as you feel comfortable, take risks and be unique. Fashion should always be fun!
Two of my favorite examples of a signature look are Anna Wintour and Iris Apfel. These two women are highly respected fashion icons who have built successful personal brands. They have truly embraced who they are and have consistently stayed true to their own style.
Anna’s signature look is her recognizable short bang bob and dark sunglasses, which she almost never takes off. I always wondered, besides being consistent with her personal brand, why does Anna wear her sunglasses indoors? Well, according to Anna, “They are seriously useful. I can sit in a show and if I am bored out of my mind nobody will notice. At this point they have become really armor.” Good to know!
Iris’ signature look is her oversized round glasses and layers and layers of statement making jewelry that she always has on. According to Iris, “Jewelry is the most transformative thing you can have in your wardrobe”. And I agree, accessories are a big part of fashion and it’s always fun to see how an entire outfit can be transformed by just changing the accessories.
Keep in mind, signature looks don’t always work for everyone, so don’t feel that you have to have one. But if you do decide to go with a signature, keep in mind consistency is key, and you’ll need to keep up with it.
2. Uniform Dressing
Another way to create a personal brand is with uniform dressing. Now you may think this is counterintuitive but sometimes being simple can be very unique. From Mark Zuckerberg’s grey t-shirt, to Steve Jobs black turtle necks and jeans, uniform dressing has become a big trend, especially among top fashion designers.
Studies have shown that those with a crazy busy lifestyle can benefit tremendously from a uniform dress code because it allows them to free up their mind to focus on the more important parts of their business. It can also help to keep the attention on the person themselves instead of on the clothes they are wearing.
So if you have a favorite pair of jeans or a shirt that you often wear, this could become part of your uniform style. You may get a little bored, but at least you will most likely never have to worry that it will go out of style! Here are some of our favorite uniform dressing designers;
Karl Lagerfeld, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, & Carolina Herrera
3. Align your Personal Image with your Brand Image
Many designers will embody their own brands, in fact it’s not unusual for a designer to design with themselves in mind anyway. And since you are your brand, you literally would be a walking ad for your line if you went this route. So in order to do this, think about how you would describe your brand and use that to define your style. Is your brand fun, sexy, classy, preppy, chic, or boho? If so, try to bring that style into your own wardrobe. And if you can wear your own line, do it! This can help in a number of ways. For one, customers can see and learn about your product or line in a non-invasive way ie. you are wearing it &/or your employees are wearing it. Ever notice when you walk in a Michael Kors boutique that all of the employees are wearing the current collection? It’s a sales technique. It also can help to empower your employees to advocate for your brand and increase your growth on social media, both very good things. I’ll never forget the time I interned for Ralph Lauren. Each day I entered the office I felt like I was walking into a live photoshoot for RL….everyone was wearing something from the line!
My Top Favorite Designers who embody their brand:
Donatella Versace, Tom Ford, Rio Urbe of Gypsy Sport & Diane Von Furstenberg
It also can help customers to connect with your brand on a personal level, again building sales. Potential investors and buyers will be able to see just how wearable (and salable) the collection is which is turn could help increase new business, investors, opportunities, etc., ultimately growing your company. This is why we feel aligning your personal brand with your company brand is key for a startup fashion designer. Without one, you may not even stand a chance.
Having trouble building your personal brand? We can help!
Schedule a free 20 minute consultation now so we can help you look your very best!
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Which personal brand idea do you love most? Comment below! I love to hear from you <3