This is the third installment in the series “Maximizing Your Personal Brand.” While I suppose today’s post could stand alone to some degree, I do highly recommend that you check out Part 1 and Part 2 first. Not only do they lay important groundwork regarding the significance of your personal brand, they contain key components of a whole. To miss out on them might be compared with trying to write a symphony with just the woodwind section, or painting a masterpiece with only one color.
What’s more, if you don’t read the build-up regarding how your clothing, eyewear and hair affect your personal brand, you’ll be jumping in at a particularly strange part of the story (as you may have guessed by the header image).
As I did at the beginning of the previous post, I’ll summarize two key concepts before we continue, in even more condensed form:
1. Nonverbal communication includes more than expressions and hand gestures.
The first impressions that you make happen before you even get a chance to speak; yet those impressions will often dictate how – or even if – people will receive your message.First impressions can dictate how – or even IF – people will receive your message. Click To Tweet
2. You are your own personal brand.
We as individuals must treat our personal brand just as seriously as any successful company approaches its own branding and public image, which means devoting adequate time and resources to making sure our personal brand remains unique, positive and memorable.Make sure your personal brand remains unique, positive and memorable. Click To Tweet
Now, allow me to explain that strange header image, trusting that it won’t feel like a repeat of junior high gym class.
Hygiene – Personal Brand Strategy #4
Alas, I realize I’m into ground even your own mother would fear to tread. I’ll do my best to keep it from feeling like a repeat of the worst parts of adolescence or those awkward chats with the P.E. teacher, but it’s that important to your personal brand. Someone needs to tell you, so I’ll be “that guy.” (Remember, I’m your friend.)
So, guys – it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Axe body spray is not a shower in a can. (No pointing fingers and laughing, either, ladies; because that Victoria Secret stuff … isn’t a shower either.) Shower every day, twice a day if necessary. And make sure you’re using a good deodorant. We aren’t usually aware of our own body smell, but man up (or “woman up”) and ask your best friend to tell you honestly if you smell funky, despite regular showers and deodorant use. If so, products like “Shower to Shower” and others can help a great deal without being obvious or overpowering.
Speaking of deodorant, let’s face it: some people just sweat more than others. But regardless of the reasons, pit stains or dark splotches on the chest exude extremes on the confidence continuum (i.e., either nervousness or aggressiveness), neither of which will help your personal brand. Fortunately, there are more options today than ever before. First, make sure you are using an antiperspirant not just a deodorant (both are sold side by side, so read the label carefully). In addition, clinical-strength antiperspirants really do work, so give them a try. Guys, if you’re overly hirsute, consider some “man-scaping”; cutting down on body hair cools things off and decreases perspiration. And both guys and girls, a light undershirt can be a good barrier to prevent soak-through. One more note here: if your shirts have become stained or bleached due to sweat and deodorant over time – it’s time to throw them out and invest in some replacements (a perfect opportunity to follow the advice from Post 1 and consider adding some color to your wardrobe).
Even if you’re showered and squeaky clean, dousing yourself in cologne or perfume is off-putting. The best approach if you do enjoy scents is this simple three-step one:
3.) Walk away
In practical terms, that means spray your cologne or perfume once into the air in front of you (never directly onto yourself), step forward into the area you just sprayed, wait a second – and then get out of there. If your scent doesn’t come as a spray, apply to one finger and touch your neck twice. Then wash your hands. I promise: this is an area where less is more. If people are consciously aware of your scent, it’s probably too much.
And if you’ve been sticking with your favorite for a while, I’m sorry to say that, barring a very few timeless classics (e.g., Dior Homme, Chanel No.5) – it’s probably outdated. Scent fashion changes just like clothing, eyewear and hair styles; so take a peek through authoritative fashion magazines to find out what’s current (you can most often even get a sniff right off the page).
Men, if it’s an issue, buy a nose and ear hair trimmer. Sure, it’ll be a pain adding another five minutes to your morning routine, but it’ll be well worth the time for the pain you save others with whom you’ll be speaking. And while we’re at it, don’t let your eyebrows get unruly, either. If necessary, let a professional take care of it when you go for your haircuts. Most will.
Ladies, I’m afraid you’re not off the hook here. It’s uncomfortable to talk about, but if you have facial hair, don’t just bleach. It’s noticeable. Take the extra effort to wax or consider electrolysis (professional or at-home kits, many of which work well these days).
Keep up on dental hygiene. Brush in the morning, but tuck a totable toothbrush along for the workday, as well (you may have enjoyed the turkey, Havarti and onion flatbread you had for lunch, but it’s not so nice for the person you’re talking with afterward; and that goes for coffee, as well, which is one of the worst offenders where breath is concerned).
And, for Pete’s sake, if you’re not already doing so – brush your tongue. Most plaque actually builds up on your tongue, leaving a whitish film. You need to rigorously brush or scrape (yes, there are inexpensive OTC products for this purpose) your tongue twice a day, or you’ll have the effect of opening a barn door every time you speak.
In addition, teeth whitening has never been more affordable. Over-the-counter products like whitening strips work quite well, so there’s no need to spend a fortune on professional laser treatments.
Speaking of oral hygiene, if you haven’t kicked smoking yet (and please do continue to consider it), you’ve got a few more things to contend with here. For most people these days, the smell of cigarette smoke on you will not help your message. As I pointed out above, adding cover-up scent is never the answer. Smoke stays in clothes and hair, so be intentional about not smoking in your car or letting it pool around you. Don’t stand in the path of fellow smokers’ cloud drift. If there’s no breeze outside, talk a walk during your cigarette break, to literally leave the smoke behind. And when you get back from your break, grab that portable toothbrush I mentioned above and hit the restroom (yes, even if that means several extra brushes a day). Gum is a temporary cover-up at best, since it doesn’t actually remove the odors from your mouth. If you’ve been taking my advice on brushing your tongue, you’ll be cutting down on smoke retention in your mouth already, since that tongue bacteria stores odors such as smoke. And don’t substitute mouthwash for brushing, especially the kind with alcohol in it, since too much can damage the membranes in your mouth. Finally, wash your hands thoroughly. Smoke doesn’t linger on most skin, but it does on your fingers.
If you have oily skin, here’s an inexpensive trick. Save your napkins from coffee runs, etc., in your car (I keep mine in the center console). While they’re great to have handy for unexpected spills or cleaning bird droppings off your window, they also serve as effective (and free) blotters. And they work better than TP or paper towels, because they are designed to clean up greasy fingers. Be sure to unfold the napkin all the way, then just press it firmly to any oily trouble areas on your face for about three seconds each. You’ll see what you just sopped off right on that napkin. If you need more encouragement to try this, matte skin also decreases the appearance of wrinkles, since oil is reflective and therefore accentuates light and shadow.
Be sure to keep close tabs on nails, as well (including toenails, ladies, if you wear open-toed shoes; remember … no more nylons to hide them).
Lastly, make sure you’re keeping your ears clean. We don’t see inside our ears – but everyone else can.
OK, you can stop squirming. We’re done. But do take these things to heart. It may be a little embarrassing to face personal hygiene issues, but it’s a pretty important part of the overall picture where your personal brand is concerned. We always want to be inviting people in, not turning them away or distracting them from our message. It’s not about being perfect. Compare breaches in your personal brand to a flickering neon sign in a restaurant window, chipped paint on the walls or cigarette butts around the doorway. The food and service might be great, but ambiance is often the difference between a $9.00 plate and $25.00 fare.We always want to be inviting people in, not turning them away or distracting them from our message. Click To Tweet