Wednesday, June 15

Straying From Your Personal Brand

Have you ever had one of those days when people are commenting how you "don't seem like yourself," and you get questions like:  "Are you feeling ok?" or "You seem tired." or "What's up with you today?"

Meanwhile you thought you were doing just fine, thank you.

I made a little discovery the other day about why this sometimes happen.  How could it be that I'm feeling fine but everyone else thinks that there might be something wrong?

I've strayed from my personal brand.

Whether we've thought about it this way before or not, we all have a personal brand.  Elements of ourselves, features and benefits if you will, that have come to represent who we are and what we offer to people.  Sort of like how Tide is in a familiar orange bottle and has ingredients that help us wash our families' clothes.  As people, we have the same kind of thing:  familiar packaging and an expected attributes that define who we are and what we do.  It's our own personal brand.

Me?  I'm known for colorful patterned shirts (usually with jeans and a blazer) and a certain energy level that I bring to the day.  Every once in awhile when I stray from my "brand", it's amazing how people notice.  Not consciously, because it's far too subtle, but sub-consciously.  They can't mark it exactly, they just know that the "brand" is off.

So if I wear a formal suit or muted colors, they perceive me differently and assume that there's something wrong.  Or if for whatever reason I'm a little more quiet that day, they assume that I'm tired or not feeling well.  Meanwhile, it's just a day when I felt like wearing a monotone color or am allowing others to take center stage.  But that's not my brand!

One day even I noticed it myself.  I wore a pair of "bucks" and felt oddly southern all day, totally out of character.

So do a little social experiment.  Stray from your personal brand for a day.  Don't do the expected -- wear different kinds of clothes from your normal.  See what happens.  See if you get any comments.  I'm betting that straying from your personal brand will get you some unexpected reactions.

So please do tell me ... what's your experience?  Jim.


  1. Jim - My experience is that when I don't wear orange prominently, people wonder what's going on (kid of like if Tide showed up in a blue bottle). If the level of enthusiasm I'm displaying is low, that also seems to prompt questions. It's really intriguing to think about these moments as being off (personal) brand. I'd never thought about it in that light, but it makes all the sense in the world!


  2. Jim,

    I just had this happen to me on Monday. I wore a colorful, wide-striped shirt, and someone commented on how "bright" or "bold" I looked. She added that I usually just wear solid colored shirts, usually blue... My brand strayed a little, and people noticed!

    Although I, inside, did not change, the perception about me did. Or, my "usual" brand was more identifiable.

    Great post! Thanks!


  3. Absolutely agree. I showed up at work wearing flats instead of my typical high heels one day. I was planning to play tennis that evening, and my foot had been bothering me a bit. A good friend at work looked at me askance and said "You're off equity"! Not only that, but I felt oddly shorter than usual around everyone that day.

  4. So cool to hear these stories ... affirming the theory that if you stray off "brand" people notice! Love it! Jim.

  5. agree! This last week, I've been unusually tired(ok overworked) which stranslated to me being a bit quieter(not the usual upbeat me)...and sure enough people noticed and not only commented on the difference but in a strange way that left me feeling it wasn't acceptable to be "off brand"... even for a day! So, question: what's the recco on going off-brand even if for a short break? clearly there are consequences in terms of perception eh? :-)

  6. Good question ... implications of going "off brand"? Perhaps is speaks to the fact that we shouldn't so narrowly define our "brand" so that it allows for different textures and experiences although still within what we truly offer. Very interesting....JIM