And Now a Word from…
Yasmin Anderson-Smith /United States
A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!
Managing The Optics of Your Personal Brand Image
Over one hundred and thirty million eyeballs were trained to TV screens around the world during the recent US Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. These are among the most highly-anticipated moments in the months-long, grueling campaign process. The debates give audiences close up views of the style, persona, temperament, character (and substance) of each debater. As the candidates position themselves on stage for the ninety-minute duration of the each debate, with every move (and accompanying sound), the optics or views of their brand image are under continuous scrutiny.
Full and split-screen television camera shots (and sound) portray the body language, verbal communication and brand persona of each candidate conveyed through their personal appearance, grooming, facial, head and hand gestures, posture, poise, stance and gait, as well as vocal command, tone and pitch. These factors are projected against a backdrop of the physical and esthetic setting for the occasion. With split screen camera angles and, depending on the setting, all around camera views, full or partial body images of the candidates can be seen during their speaking or silent moments. Nervous, repetitive or other inappropriate gestures are easily captured for all to see.
In today’s instant, always-on digital culture, public perceptions of debate candidates are easily and repeatedly shaped by the flurry of images, infographics, memes, videos, sound bites, and other brand messaging distributed through blogs and Social Media. This occurs almost non-stop before, during and after each debate.
Comments, questions, labels and opinions prompted by the spoken and unspoken brand image messaging each candidate communicates during those precious ninety minutes are tweeted, texted, posted, spoken, shouted and screamed in support of or against each candidate. These messages may become viral, stick around and influence public perception or quickly die and fade away.
News reports and public commentary resulting from televised coverage of the debates and shared in blogs and Social Media revealed a colorful bouquet of descriptors and attributes about the candidates. Among the more memorable are the following: aggressive, attacker, unprepared, bully, disengaged, polite, roosterism, alpha male, boss, presidential, empathetic, poised, lazy, incompetent, disrespectful, graceful, confident and uncivil. Observers on both sides called it the way they saw it at that moment in time.
On or off stage, what are the optics of your brand? What words would the image and appearance of your brand convey to an audience of your colleagues, peers, customers or clients? Whether in public or private, managing the optics of your brand image means being constantly aware and thinking that your brand is always on stage. What full, split screen or all-around camera views would your brand image portray when you are pressured, challenged, confronted, comfortable, unsure of yourself, happy or disengaged? How would your viewers feel and respond to the image and brand messages you communicated?
Knowing there are almost no limits to potential scrutiny of public brand image whether in face-to- face settings or via Social Media, consider the following strategies to help you monitor and manage the optics of your personal brand on or off stage.
- Make time to be well-prepared
- Pay attention and be ever vigilant
- Remember the hallmarks of strong brands – Authenticity, Clarity and Consistency
- Never underestimate your competition
- Fully engage with your audience in their language
- Present your best visual appearance
- At all times be respectful of others
- Use the team approach – you cannot do it alone
- Stay on-brand – avoid sending mixed messages
- Get feedback
Yasmin Anderson-Smith is a certified image consultant and personal branding strategist, trainer, and author. Her passion is helping emerging business women enhance their image through the power personal branding and by embracing civility.