Defining Your Brand Identity
By Shana Lynn Yao
Clarity. You're trying to build a business but you can't seem to gain clarity in your next steps. Maybe you've been successful in the past, but now as you set out on your journey, you feel overwhelmed. Stuck. Confused.
Don't worry - you're not alone. With the overabundance of information at your fingertips, let alone, setting out to do something completely foreign to you feel awkward and heavy. Where do you start? How do you make money AND do what you love?
Coming Out Of The Closet
We’ve all had those days - when you look in your packed closet full of clothes - and nothing just feels right. “I have no clothes” you think, as you spend an hour trying to figure out what to wear, liking nothing, and finally settle on something that you don't even like.
So what does your wardrobe have to do with your brand identity? It turns out, a lot. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed fashionista or not, the truth is, your closet and defining your personal style impacts all areas of your life - from how others see you (like the time you showed up in an evening gown when it was actually a BBQ), to your own confidence in how you see yourself. The reality is, knowing your personal style and making sure you are able to communicate it - from the inside out AND the outside in - affects everything from your self esteem, your happiness, and even your future success in your business.
Also known as your personal identity, it’s a concept you develop about yourself that evolves over the course of your life. Everything from where you grew up or the color of your skin, as well as choices you make in life, what you do for a living, and what you believe.
In business it’s called a PERSONAL BRAND - how others perceive who you are, what you do, and your personal value.
What Personal Style Represents
The fun part about starting with your personal style, is, it’s actually FUN. I mean, if you have to get dressed everyday (if you don’t, that’s a WHOLE other article you should be reading) - you might as well make it fun.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon describes your personal brand as “what people say about you after you’ve left the room.” Applied to your personal style, the problem is, YOU’RE ALWAYS IN THE ROOM.
So if you want to gain clarity in your personal style, your personal brand, and in your own closet, it starts even before we get you out of the closet.
It starts with how you see yourself. How would you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
The answer to that is the foundation of your personal identity. Based on your friends, your family, and your life experience, you have a perception of yourself that affects how you see everything in life.
But now you’re an adult, and if you feel confused about your personal style, chances are you may have told yourself a story of who you are based on other people’s opinions - and that may actually be far from your real self.
When you look in your closet - how many things do you actually wear? Do you love everything in it? Why are you keeping that ratty tee shirt that has holes in it or those pants that make you feel fat?
So rather than living up to other people’s expectations of who you are, let’s get busy creating your personal style - from the inside out.
Defining Your Personal Style
1 DEFINE YOURSELF.
To gain clarity in your personal style, you need to get clear on your OWN perception of your personal identity. You literally need to DECIDE who you are so you can operate as your best self rather than a default perception of yourself. You are so much more than the ratty t shirt and sweats you occasionally wear. And in order to have the confidence in your business to do the necessary things to get to your next level, you need to define who you are. Define your highest and best self based on what your believe (your values) and what you want out of life.
You're heard of the phrase "Dress for the career you want"? This is that.
For example, I used to describe myself as shy and kind of awkward. I’ve always had an eye for beautiful things and people have always complimented my style - but I NEVER fit in. I would show up at my corporate job in black skinnies and what my boss called “fuck me heels”. The truth is, I looked really hip and stylish but in a room full of people wearing suits....
So I thought I was awkward. And it caused me to be very introverted.
But when I discovered that you can create your own identity simply by claiming your higher self identity, I turned the awkward and introverted in to innovative and insightful. Instead of looking at myself from the negative point of view, I decided to own my rebellious side, my intelligence, and eclectic stylish side.
1. Define yourself (literally).
- What 3-5 words represent your highest self?
- How you want others to see you?
2. Reprogram your mind.
Write those words down EVERYWHERE - in your bathroom, on your fridge, and on your phone. Several times a day, ask yourself “How am I being _____ ?”
i.e “How am I being eclectic?” Oh - I’m wearing my bright yellow slides today. You're standing in line at Starbucks. "How am I being inspiring? I can tell the barista the thing I learned this morning."
Doing that will literally reprogram your brain (create new neuropathways) around this new, positive self image.
2. GET INSPIRED.
If you’re human (I know you are!) you chances are you look at other people. You look at them and form judgements. Don’t worry, we all do. I’m sure you’ve been the victim of the “once over” up and down glance of other people sizing you up - whether it’s for a job interview, a date, or a casual meetup - we all judge. This is a good thing - because those judgements by you, are helping you understand what you like and dislike, and by others, who "gets" you and who doesn't.
So now back to your personal style in your closet - what catches your eye? Whose style do you admire? When you go to a store, what catches your eye? Which sections do you go to first?
1. Start a “personal style” Pinterest board. Post style icons, cute shoes, people, and colors that catch your eye. Give yourself a time limit (otherwise you could spend all day looking at OTHER people’s style and not claiming your own).
2. Go to your favorite stores. What sections do you gravitate to? What colors? What styles?
3. Name your style. Now get a piece of paper and come up with words that describe the styles you were attracted to. This step will help you take other people’s styles and make it your own.
For example, I told you I’m eclectic. I love a good Audrey Hepburn classic cigarette pant and pearls. But sometimes I’m completely Forever 21 and trendy. But the one thing they all have in common, is a neutral palette. I love whites, blush pinks, beige and tan.
You don’t have to pick one style. You’re unique. You just didn’t claim it before. Now you can.
3. CLEAR THE CLUTTER.
Now it’s the fun part. Now that you know who you are, and you know what you like, it’s time to delete, delete, delete.
To own your new identity, you’re going to have to get rid of everything that doesn’t fit that new identity. NOT doing this will leave you always deferring to the pattern of your old identity. Those “fat pants” you have “just in case” are literally programming your mind that you have excuse for eating that extra piece of cake.
Instead of a choice, those fat pants are causing you to be mediocre. I know - ick. Get rid fo the fat pants. No excuses. Burn the boats.
Same goes for those jeans you haven’t worn since high school. “Someday” has NOT happened - has it? I have news for you - you’re NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL anymore. Get rid of them. New life, new closet, new you.
So it’s time to clear the clutter. You will need 3 garbage bags, a mirror, and some water (this is a process).
Bag #1 - Trash.
Everything you’ve kept doesn't fit you and is not salvable enough for charity, and not you anymore. Trash.
Bag #2 - Donate.
Everything that is still in wearable condition that you feel too guilty to throw away - donate.
Bag #3 - Mend.
A good tailor is a girl’s best friend. Something too big? Tailor. Stains on it? Dry cleaner. Big moth hole? Tailor.
Once you have done this, get rid of everything THAT DAY. Don’t wait. No second thoughts. Let’s claim your new self TODAY.
4. GO SHOPPING.
Even if you don’t have a big budget, you don’t need one. There are plenty of stores online and off to stock up your closet with everything you need to start building the foundation of your personally styled closet.
Here are a few tips to rock your style:
BUDGET FRIENDLY STORES TO EXPLORE
Forever 21 - you don’t have to be 21 to shop here. They sell everything from frilly bras, white tees, to business suits, to trendy seasonal items. Their price points are pretty inexpensive - so feel free to experiment.
H&M - same as Forever 21 - a little pricier on some things and quality is not great - but it’s worth a visit
Zara - several steps up from Forever 21 and HM, Zara is my personal favorite. Their price points are anywhere from $14.99 - $129 - and their quality and styles to die for.
5. BE CLASSY.
It doesn’t matter your personal style - whether it’s trendy, bohemian, classic, sporty - the only rule you should follow in order to make sure you have a wardrobe that you love - that represents you and won’t go out of style, is to remember to be CLASSY.
Classy is very different than classic.It's not stodgy or stuff. It's everlasting. Think of Coco Chanel, and Christian Dior - those brands will last forever. They are “in style” but not trendy. If you bought a bag or sweater in 1950, you could still wear it today.
ABC - Always be Classy
6. MAKE A STATEMENT.
1- QUALITY OVER QUANTITY - Invest in good quality pieces that are at the core of your personal style. A great bag, pair of heels, loafers, and stylist tennis shoes - invest in things that will last you a lifetime if you take care of them.
2. ACCESSORIES - buy some statement pieces that will make your outfit YOU. A great choker, a gold bracelet, a great pair of sunnies - you could be wearing jeans and a tee- and the right pair of sunnies - stunning.
And that’s it! Remember, we’re talking more than your closet. This is your personal identity, and the foundation of your personal brand. How you show up in the world and most of all, in the mirror. You would be shocked how amazing you can feel just by feeling fantastic getting dressed everyday.
Confidence is the way you see yourself - and if you learn to love what you see in the mirror, you’ll be able to focus on the other things that matter - your family, your friends, your job and your business.
Remember, just like in your business, it’s ok to be you - to dress like you WANT, say what you believe, and do what feels right to you - not how others expect you to be.
Wear and do what make you happy.
When you are happy, you are CONFIDENT.
Everlasting. Beautiful. And simply irresistible
as a person, a brand, and as yourself.
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