Odds are if the pilot on your next flight showed up wearing a t-shirt, a pair of cut-off jean shorts and flip flops, you might feel a little less confident about boarding the flight.
That’s because there’s science which suggests that we’re conditioned to respond to visual prompts in certain ways. As human beings, it’s in our DNA to want to make a connection with something or someone in order to know, like and trust it.
Typically, these connections are made through first impressions. And, the impressions we give and receive (whether they be positive or negative) through visual styling can make a huge impact on how other people perceive us.
To be absolutely clear, what you wear doesn’t define your value as a person any more than wearing a tutu makes you a prima ballerina. But, the truth of the matter is, you can’t control the fact that people will judge you. But, you can control their first impressions of you.
The way you look is important. There’s no getting around it. And, it doesn’t really matter if you’re an elementary school teacher, a firefighter or a pilot – most people have a very distinct picture in their mind of what that is “supposed” to look like.
You may be thinking it’s not fair. I agree. It isn’t. But, instead of waging war on human nature by telling yourself that you have other, more altruistic things to focus on besides personal style and image, you should know that research shows the way you look strongly influences other people’s perception of your financial success, trustworthiness, intelligence and advancement in the workplace.
As more people start to trade in their traditional 8 to 5 jobs for a chance to become their own bosses, the ability to stand out in a crowd that now accounts for 35% of the U.S. workforce, according to a 2016 Freelancers Union survey, is more important than ever.
The reason why is simple: Image matters.
- If it didn’t, major corporations wouldn’t spend billions of dollars annually developing, honing and protecting their brand identities.
- If it didn’t, former POTUS Barack Obama’s choice to wear an unbuttoned shirt during a recent summit about global food innovation and climate change wouldn’t have made national headlines.
- If it didn’t, you would never ever feel the need to ask the question, “How do I look?”
Image matters because it’s how major brands like Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s differentiate themselves and provide their customers with something to connect to.
And the same is true for the more than 30 million self-employed, independent workers throughout the U.S. A well-defined, consistent image that visually represents the way you want to be perceived by potential clients is a proven strategy for helping gain a competitive advantage with the people who matter most.
When a potential client is deciding whether they want to work with you, all they have to go on initially is what they see. So, you better believe their first impression of your web site design, your page copy, photos, colors and even your personal appearance, are all factors they’re using to judge your capacity for being able to give them what they want.
For today’s solopreneur, delivering brand consistency AND creating a cohesive personal image go hand-in-hand because so much of your business brand is you. That’s why creating a strong visual identity is about so much more than wearing a pretty dress. It’s about developing a personalized wardrobe plan that reflects your personal style on your own terms.
I want to help you get started creating a well-defined, cohesive personal image that you can use as a marketing tool in your business. Grab my free email course, Dressing with Intention here. In it, you’ll learn all about how to develop a personal image that’s a true reflection of YOU (your own uniqueness) and gain the self-confidence you need to attract and capture the success you deserve.
I’d love to know what your thoughts are about the importance of image and personal style. Do you believe it’s important or not? Let me know what you think in the comments below.