My organization hosted an event this last weekend, with about 150 people — artists, business leaders, community leaders, etc. — in attendance. In the days leading up to the reception, several people called me to ask me what the dress code for the event was.
Now, things are pretty casual on Cape Cod, as a rule. Even fancy events don’t get that fancy. It’s just too much of a beach-and-leisure culture.
But many of the folks asking the question were artists who were being honored or featured in some way, and so my answer to them was “dress like an artist.”
And then they asked me what that meant.
I’ve been thinking a lot about personal branding, both because we just finished leading a class on this (and other) PR-related topics at work, and also because some of my favorite people have been writing about personal brand management lately, too.
A lot of folks get turned off by the idea that they should have a personal brand — that this all sounds way too market-y and salesman-y, especially for artists and other creative types.
Fact is, you have a personal brand. The only question is whether or not you’re aware, and are doing anything actively to manage it.
Your personal brand is nothing more or less than how you present yourself. This means in person, in writing, on the phone, online, at the grocery store when you don’t think anyone is looking — anytime you’re visible, you’re creating an impression.
Does this mean you have to always be “on?”
No, not as long as your personal brand is in alignment with who you actually are.
A friend of mine says of one of her favorite people that, no matter where you slice her, she’s the same through and through. It always makes me think of Neapolitan ice cream. No matter where you slice it, it’s always strawberry, vanilla, chocolate
Beyond this basic premise of Be Who You Are it’s just a matter of polishing yourself up a bit for public consumption.
For this polishing job, I lean on a second mantra: Be Who You Wish You Were.
I wish I were kinder, more thoughtful of others, more generous, less critical, and just generally nicer.
So I act as if I were.
I hope I am as responsible, helpful, and dependable as I like to think I am.
So I act as if I were.
What does it mean if I tell an artist to dress like an artist?
Be who you are. And then some.
(By the way, Chris Brogan really does have this one nailed as far as what a personal brand is, and why you should care. Please do read.)