Recession Dressing: So you’re Brad Pitt…that don’t impress me much

October 26th, 2011 LIKE WHAT YOU READ? SHARE IT!

Shania Twain wanted more than a looker.

In a very different context, your clients want more too.

You might ‘wow’ a meeting in a sharp suit and Italian loafers.

But bigger picture, you’ll need more than looks to make your mark.

Then again, you’ll probably need more than being good at what you do.

(Shania wasn’t satisfied with ‘just’ a rocket scientist either!).

Appearance matters, especially during an economic downturn.  It’s a way of communicating your professionalism, and an understanding of your industry.

There’s a practical element to professional image – the how-to components, like the right wardrobe for work, or mastering the perfect handshake.

These aspects of your personal brand, or professional image, signal that you understand the codes of your industry; that you behave and dress the part.

Appearance helps to get you through the door, and continues to demonstrate membership in your industry.

But alone, it’s a shaky life raft for your career.


‘So you’ve got the looks, but have you got the touch’…at work, that is.

The ‘touch’ – to take serious liberties with Shania’s meaning – happens when the inside (your substance/skills) and the outside (your packaging) work together to communicate who you really are.

You’ve got to be good at what you do.

You might have the basics of dressing and grooming down pat.

But how do you take your personal brand to the next level?

My previous post built on Sally Hogshead’s concept of Personal Brand vs. Personality Brand.

The magic ‘touch’ is adding your authenticity.

It’s about identifying and harnessing your unique facets – your skills, experience, personality and yes, your packaging – and using them to best effect.


Meet Markus.

He used to work for a big corporation, and spent a bomb on slick suits to look the part.  He has a first class degree from a top university, meaning he had the brains to match the Brad Pitt looks.

But then Markus ceased being ‘a suit’ when he became self-employed.

Suddenly there was no corporate brand enveloping him, no logo, no shiny glass building propping up his reputation.

His arsenal of Armani suits didn’t cut it anymore.  They didn’t say enough about who he was without a big company name behind him.

Markus had to infuse more individuality in his personal brand, while still preserving his professionalism.

He needed to demonstrate his creativity alongside his credibility to potential clients – the brains plus the looks.

He went a step further by bringing some fun and a little of the unexpected into his presentations and his packaging, which aligned perfectly with his personality.

He found the touch.


The Takeaway?

Looking good at work matters.  If you’ve got the looks, but haven’t got ‘the touch’, you can’t impress me (or anyone else) too much – at least in the long run.

But sorry Shania, I disagree on the Brad thing.

Mr. Pitt’s good looks are backed by world-class acting skills, AND a rock solid personality brand.

That, I’d say, is pretty impressive indeed.


Now it’s your turn…

What’s your view on bringing personality into your personal brand?




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