To answer this question we need to look at what personal branding is...
Large companies have long recognized the benefits of branding. Branding positions a company, product, or service, in the market place. With enough exposure a brand becomes the short hand for recognizing the attributes of the company, product or service. For instance: McDonald's is known world-wide for its repeatable meal experience and low cost; Levis are recognized for their style of jeans; Nordstrom's is known for its personal service and quality products.
Tom Peters is attributed with popularizing the term personal branding in his 1997 article "The Brand Called You". This article is still very relevant today.
Personal branding is usually used in the context of your career or a person running their own business. It is the creation and management of all aspects of your image and your interactions with people. So, it is equally relevant to your social persona as well.
The aim of your personal brand is to take control of the impression you make, the reputation you build and the total experience of dealing with you. It includes your knowledge, your experience, your behavior and your appearance.
If you want to maximize your potential (and who doesn't?), then yes, it's important that you manage your professional image and understand how you're perceived by your boss, your clients, your colleagues and your friends.
Your brand is the promise of the value or experience someone will receive when they deal with you. It's what gets you noticed and remembered and affects the way others relate to you. It's about marketing yourself in the best possible light.
In the current world of work we don't expect to belong to one company for life. Companies rise and fall. We change companies to find better work, better conditions, to gain experience, to increase our pay, or because we move to another location.
So, we can expect to attend several job interviews over our working life. Or to be approached or attract business based on our reputation, maybe from our online presence.
We are hired for what is perceived of our attitude, knowledge and experience. To stand out, prosper and live the life we want to lead we need to take responsibility for our own destiny.
If you would like help with creating the appearance aspect of your image I offer a range of in person and online services to help.
As an image consultant my focus is on developing the appearance aspect of your personal brand. I educate people on the importance of their appearance and how it instantly conveys to people what you do, how successful you are, and if they want to do business or work with you.
As Diana Pemberton-Sikes says in her ebook Business Wear Magic (sorry guys, this one's for the girls, although a lot of the information is relevant to men as well) "...if you present yourself in the way that your audience wants to see you that's also appropriate for the location and the occasion, you'll reach your goal in no time."
Your appearance helps to establish your authority and your credibility. While it is possible to overcome a poor appearance, why assume people work that hard? Why put hurdles in the road to your success?
As Diana also says, even in this age of casual dress and relaxed attitudes, paying attention to your professional image will put you so far ahead, both in terms of money and success in general (however you may measure it).
How do you go about creating your brand? From a career or business development perspective, start by reading the Tom Peters article referenced above.
Tom gives ideas on how to tackle each of the steps...
From a knowledge perspective this could include identifying the skills and experience you need to gain.
From a behavioral perspective you might need to improve your communication skills or your social graces.
From an appearance perspective it involves...
"Your style makeover may require a few tweaks or a total re-think. Using a mix of science and art I show you how to discover your style and look great every day.
Hi, I'm Jane Liddelow, the Personal Image Consultant and Stylist responsible for this site. Find out more about me here."