I wear mismatched socks. It began out of laundry-folding laziness, but secured implicit intent when I learned that my wardrobe mishap became a conversation piece with a simple cross-of-the-legs and flash-of-the-ankle (hubba-hubba).
Intrigued by the many comments and attention, I began to get creative with my sock combinations: A jack-o-lantern on the left foot and a snowman on the right?!? Tim Burton made millions with a similar stroke of genius, and as I often feel kindred to his artistic insanity a ten-toe salute to Nightmare Before Christmas seemed only natural. The conversations that ensued were humorous and insightful. My socks were sparking department-wide innovation in the form of laughable suggestions and guesses of what I might do next.
I had realized that my colorfully clad ankles had gained true momentum when they became my identifier: “She’ll be wearing two different socks. You can’t miss her!” My socks became an icon for my personal brand.
In my line of work, where socializing is a MUST, my socks were an easy icebreaker. The creativity, the light-heartedness, and the sheer silliness advertised to my audience that I was approachable and easy-going. In essence, my socks helped me get my foot in the door (pun intended).
I’m not suggesting that anyone follow me down the path of footwear tomfoolery, however, the take away from this little anecdote is that how you are perceived is a critical component of your personal brand:
- What’s on the outside is just as important as what is on the inside. A personal brand is how we market ourselves to others. It is the whole package—our skills, attributes, our product, as well as packaging. It is human nature to judge a book by its cover, so consider what messages you want to project when making a personal first impression.
- Find something that identifies with a key quality of your persona, and amplify it. For me, my socks projected my inner geek, my easy-going nature, and my creativity as a subtle yet noticeable addition to my office uniform.
- See your personal details as opportunities to market yourself. Own it. Don’t be a passive listener in the conversation about your personal brand. Be the leader. If you don’t own your brand, someone else will.
Whatever it is you’re “marketing,” your image is the first and usually lasting impression that you have complete control of. This is your billboard. Make sure you’re sending the right message…even if that message is, “talk to me about my socks.”
How do you wear your brand?
There are three things in life that should never be broken: promises, friendships, and hearts.