How to Use Your Personal Appearance As Part of Your Business Branding or a Marketing Tool

You've spent a ton of money on your marketing materials-your brochures, business cards, website. You want them to be just right. You fuss over every detail.

You put all your energy into your products or services including the planning, the design, the execution, the packaging.

And then, the big day comes. You're ready to present them to the public, and you show up in unbecoming attire. Your shoes are kind of scruffy. You haven't changed your hairstyle in over a decade. Or your hairstyle is up-to-date, but pretty far out there. You're not wearing any makeup, or you're wearing too much. Your fingernails are ragged from chewing on them.

Your product is ready to be presented, but you aren't.

Big mistake! In fact, your personal image may be your most important presentation to the public. If you don't look the part, you won't have the credibility you need to get the client or the sale.

Here are some things to think about before you go public:

1) Know what looks good on you. If you've gotten feedback that you might need some work in this area, spend some time figuring it out. Or get help. Does blue-red or orange-red look more flattering on you? What about paisley vs. stripes? Are pleated pants, or flat front better for your body type? Do you know which jacket length is your best bet? The idea is to create a harmonious relationship between yourself and what you wear. A discordant relationship screeches just like fingernails on a blackboard.

2) Be appropriate. Formal business wear isn't always required, but, if you're not sure what business casual dress is, find out. Business casual usually calls for at least a collar on your shirt, and is best in a woven fabric (what a dress shirt is made of) as opposed to a knit (what a t-shirt is made of), and something a step or two above jeans. Dress slacks are better than more casual khaki slacks. Leather shoes surpass the running variety.

3) Be neat and well-groomed. This seems obvious to me, but from what I've observed in public, it isn't obvious to everyone. So here are the basics. Keep a somewhat controlled hairstyle for work. No bed heads. No spiky hair styles or magenta streaks. No greasy locks. Keep the makeup moderate. Trim the nails and shaggy eyebrows. Remove the piercings and cover the tattoos. Keep your belly button covered too. Brush your teeth. Don't spare the deodorant. Polish your shoes, and don't wear them with rundown heels. Have clean, wrinkle-free clothes ready to go at all times. No seams coming undone. No missing buttons. No spots. No holes. No excuses.

Being oblivious of how you appear to others can affect your bottom line.

Think nobody will notice if you're slightly sloppy? Convinced it won't matter if you haven't paid attention to detail? Don't kid yourself. People DO notice the small things. And if you seem careless about your appearance, your clients can easily believe you'll be careless in dealing with them, too.

So plan, design, and package yourself as well as you have your products. Otherwise, all that effort you put into your business may have been in vain.

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