Creating a strong personal brand can pose a challenge for anyone. Women, however, may have a few extra hurdles. Karen McCullough, branding and generations expert and author of the book, The Seven Women Project, offers advice for women seeking to build a new brand.
Q. As a professional speaker who speaks to Fortune 100 companies on the topics of branding and generations in the workplace, why do you think personal branding is important, especially for women?
A. Today more that ever we want to see and work with the whole person. I think for many years women have worked on their professional side and they appeared to be very one dimensional—that professional woman had a protective shield around her that did not let you in. Those days are gone and the word of the day is AUTHENTICITY. We want to see and know all aspects of you. A brand strategy is more important than ever. What do you want me to see and think of you? Make sure those talents and traits are demonstrated in all that you do—words, dress, style and marketing.
Q. Do you think it’s more difficult for women to rebrand themselves? Why or why not?
A. Now that I am thinking about it women are more sensitive to their appearance and even their skills and talents than men. If I tell a man to get a better suit, no pleat pants and a black cashmere jacket, he is off to the store and making the changes. Women are not as easy to work with. I do see a defensive wall that I do not see with men. Women take things very personally and image and dress are more difficult to discuss. I try to help my clients see what the small signs that people pick up on you—finger nails, shoes, fit of clothes, posture, your walk, your smile, and the most offensive is that tiny half a hand handshake.
Q. Can you share a few steps for personal brand reinvention?
- Get the Vision. Ask yourself, “Where do I want my life to be in the next 10 years?”
- Next I like my clients to look at the list of signature strengths first described by Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology Harvard, and select three to five that they want to incorporate into their daily lives.
- Define your “culture.”What will the customer or people in general feel and think about you after meeting or working with you?
- Now look at how you show up—do you have executive presence? EP is the ability to project gravitas, confidence, poise under pressure, exhibit decisiveness, be a great communicator, have public speaking skills, some assertiveness, the ability to read an audience and a situations—and don’t forget appearance.
- Now begin to incorporate all of the above… vision, strengths, culture, and presence into your new brand.