A personal branding accessory can make you more memorable, without being the only memorable thing about you.
I recently attended WordCamp Jerusalem, the local edition of an event about bloggers and WordPress. A nice surprise that was announced a few days before the event was that Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, would be attending and would speak. Matt’s talk was the last of the day and ended early in the evening, after which everyone was invited to a nearby hotel for the conference after-party.
(Sidebar: after-parties are a great place to get up close and personal with a conference’s movers & shakers because the organizers feel compelled to go – it is their event, after all – and out-of-towners, whether they’re invited speakers or attendees, often have nothing better to do. Yet, even at a large event, many of the local attendees won’t come to the party because they have other things to do. As a result, the after-party gets a group of people who really care about the whole event. Make an effort to go to these parties.)
So it’s about 7:30 in the evening, a few hours after the conference. We’re about 20-odd people sitting around a table, having dinner and chatting with Matt, when he looks down and says “Hey, this guy’s wearing my favorite shoes.” He then points his camera, and click!, my foot was immortalized. Until that point, no one had been looking at my feet – why would they? – but now they all had to look at my VFFs and of course, the whole conversation changed to talk about how unusual they are, are they comfortable, why would I wear such a thing, where could they get a pair, etc.
More than one person eventually left the party thinking about that “guy with the weird shoes” but that’s not the effect you typically want from a personal branding accessory.
The effect you typically want from a personal branding accessory
The accessory should leave an impression that matches your brand and strengthens it, building your brand without overshadowing it.
When people begin to refer to your accessory as your “trademark” or “signature,” it’s a sign that the accessory has become part of your brand in a positive way.
Michael Jackson is one of the people that made the most use of personal branding accessories. From the zipper jacket to his fedora to his various gloves, every change emphasized how much of a trend-setter he was.
Most people can get results without changing accessories so often. Jerry Seinfeld was well-known for always wearing Nike running shoes on his sitcom, something that professional men his age didn’t usually do. It was a perfect, non-imposing way for him to buck social convention on his show about that poked fun at social conventions.
When I put on those shoes that day, comfort was all I had in mind, not personal branding. However, if you choose the right accessory and make it your own, you give people yet another reason to appreciate you.