Having spent half my business life in the fashion industry, I may have a somewhat jaundiced view of the culture that surrounds it. I was recently contacted by a woman who is following me on Twitter. She writes about fashion and style and explained via a DM (direct message), “If I post anything remotely un-superficial, I lose a few Twitter fashionistas!”
Fashion and style are marketed with great vigour by designers, celebrities and the media, and are widely spread on covers of glossy magazines. Their focus is on what I describe as “Outer Branding” — that is, image. Unsurprisingly, this is a magnetic draw for those who aspire to improve their appearance, either by acquiring fashionable clothing items, a new hairstyle, makeup, or perhaps even cosmetic surgery. These so-called makeover strategies can provide some people with an improved self image. They can also increase levels of confidence, enhance self esteem, and for many, add another notch to one’s sense of self worth. And while these are attributes I fully subscribe to, like most quick-fixes, longevity is never the focus or the intention.
These often pricey image enhancements only represent half of what constitutes a whole Personal Brand. For an individual to have a Personal Brand that’s complete, there needs to be equal parts of Inner and Outer Branding. When our Outer Brand diminishes, which is inevitable, having a well developed Inner Brand will augment that which has faded through the ravages of time. Inner Branding came to me when I realised that many of the people I met, and whom I found truly compelling, had a kind of quality about them that transcended appearance, clothes or physical attributes. I remember thinking, “I’d like some of that.” Each of these individuals had very similar characteristics, all of which, when cobbled together, constituted a well developed Inner Brand.
Because I spent a great deal of my working life designing and buying beautiful clothes, working in elegant fashion environs, dashing around Europe and North America and only staying the hippest of hotels, clearly, I was spoiled.
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