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  • Accessories Matter in Personal Branding

    Over the past week, as my smartphone slowly turned into an expensive digital clock, I was forced to think about what cell phone I wanted next – and what my choice would say about me.

    When I came back to the US several years ago, I was forced into buying a smartphone.  Before, since I’d been traveling so much, I’d used a prepaid basic phone where I could easily switch SIM cards for whatever country I was in at the time. But then I came back to the US and started looking for jobs in social media – where every interviewer judges you on your answer to the question: “What smartphone do you have?”

    So, while fixing my resume and updating my internet presence, I also spent a significant amount of time deciding what type of phone fit the brand I wanted to project. As a result, I ended up with the original Motorola Droid – trendy then because it used the brand-new Android operating system.  (And a better choice for me personally because AT&T was not reliable in my area at that time.)

    My cell phone was not the only accessory where I’d had to consider my personal brand while I’ve been shopping.  More recently, when I bought a new pair of glasses, I spent a lot of time deciding what each frame said about me professionally as I tried them on.  I work in innovation, so the standard wire frames were out. Instead I needed plastic frames with a quirky look to them – and found the look I wanted in a pair of black frames with blue siding that peek out unexpectedly when you look at me from an angle. (Even my glasses reward people for looking at things differently! Perfect!)

    Branding through accessorizing also comes through at my company, Ideas To Go.  We work with Fortune 500 companies, but we very deliberately do not dress up on the days when we have ideation projects in our office. No suit jackets, ties, nylons or high heels on those days.  Instead, we wear colorful, fun accessories and clothes that look comfortable. (While still professional.)

    This is a very deliberate branding decision on our part, because we are signalling to our clients that Ideas To Go is a place where they can be comfortable expressing themselves. It’s hard to feel unrestricted when you’re wearing a tie around your neck or nylons! So by deliberately wearing more casual clothing and keeping our accessories bold and colorful, we signal to our clients that they too should be more casual and relaxed. (It works: many of our clients show up the next day wearing a completely different style of clothing than they did for the Kickoff!)

    So, as I researched a new phone, it was a loaded decision for me. What phone will not only meet my needs, but signal to the people I meet at conferences that I am up-to-date with the innovation that’s happening in the smartphone world?  What type of phone signals that I’m creative, and the type of person they want to work with?  It’s a loaded decision – especially as I’ll be using this phone for the next couple years!

    How have you faced situations like this before? What unusual choices have you made about accessories based on your personal brand?


    Katie Konrath blogs about creativity, innovation and “ideas so fresh… they should be slapped” at www.getfreshminds.com.  She works for leading innovation company, Ideas To Go.

    Katie works with Fortune 500 companies to help them generate new ideas based on consumer insights at leading innovation company www.IdeasToGo.com. She’s worked with creativity guru Edward de Bono and uncovered new ideas across North America and Europe. Prior to that, she earned a Masters degree in Creativity and Innovation from the Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking in Malta, was certified as a Lateral Thinking trainer, and studied at the TRIZ Institute in St Petersburg, Russia. She writes the leading innovation blog, GetFreshMinds.com.

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