How Your Corporate Image Can Make Or Break You

April 7, 2010 | Posted in: Image Consultant

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How Your Corporate Image Can Make Or Break You

In the business world your corporate image conveys a messages about your values, capabilities and intelligence. Most people who work in a corporate environment would acknowledge this, but understanding how to create a visual image that does justice to one’s abilities is not always so easy.

There is an accepted code that governs the way people dress in business but slavish adherence to this frequently results in a corporate image of minimalist mundanity. One only has to walk down a street in the CBD at lunchtime to be confronted by a sea of black and charcoal and dull, conformist styling. There appears a definite sameness and lack of individuality amongst those striding purposefully along the footpaths. In an attempt to be taken seriously in the workplace many people create for themselves a visual image that is bland and uninteresting.

Rather than dutifully following the code of corporate dress, one would do well to first consider the motives and reasons behind those principles. They are usually sensible, the problem is in their interpretation and ‘one size fits all’ mentality. Just as no two people are identical, no two businesses are either. Before uncritically adopting what is perceived to be appropriate corporate attire one should consider two fundamental questions:

  1. How does the company I represent want to be perceived?
  2. How do I want to be perceived within that company?

The answer to question one will be very different for someone working in an advertising agency to someone working in a law firm. Similarly, the answer to question two will be different for a partner in that same law firm and the receptionist in the foyer. Taking the time to consider these two questions and then purposefully constructing a corporate image based on those answers is definitely worthwhile.

Why bother to think about all of this? In business, your appearance is the first statement you make about yourself and a picture speaks a thousand words. You may sound convincing, authoritative, intelligent and capable but if you don’t dress in a way to reinforce this then you are instantly disadvantaging yourself and quite possibly, the business you represent.

One of the essential principles of appropriate corporate dress is that it should never cause distraction. When someone’s visual image is not in sync with the words they use and the position they hold, it is hugely distracting. It may not even be on a conscious level but the client will be attempting to reconcile what they are hearing with what they are seeing; in itself a distraction.

The discussion here is actually about personal branding, the latest buzz phrase in the business world. If we can go beyond the somewhat contrived semantics and consider the meaning of this expression, it is clear that personal brand equals personality, purpose and ethics. We need these to be accurately reflected by our appearance because we need people to interpret us correctly. This is true in all areas of life but particularly true in business. There is never a second chance to make a first impression. If this is not positive then business opportunities may be lost. How you dress is a significant element in the creation of you and your company’s personal brand.

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