“Self-Packaging” as Personal Brand: Implicit Requirements for Personal Appearance?

Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill

Al Ries

Al Ries

During the Depression of the 1930s in the US, motivational writer Napoleon Hill laid the foundation for “personal positioning,” described nearly forty-five years later by marketing executives Al Ries and Jack Trout in Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.

Tom Peters

Tom Peters

By 1997, business writer Tom Peters introduced “personal branding” as self-packaging that communicates an individual’s accomplishments and characteristics, including appearance, as a “brand promise of value.”

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands

Positioning, branding, and packaging are related but differentiated.
“Self-packaging is the shell of who you are” whereas “self-presentation (is)…that essence of what sets you apart from the crowd,“ according to blogger Murray Newlands.

The goal of personal branding is to communicate intrinsic, important, differentiating personal characteristics, exemplified in self-packaging details like attire, business cards, speaking style and more.

Daniel Lair

Daniel Lair

Academic researchers have brought some rigor to considering the intangibles of personal branding, presentation, and packaging.
One example is University of Michigan’s Daniel Lair with Katie Sullivan of University of Utah, and Kent State’s George Cheney academic analysis, Marketization and the Recasting of the Professional Self: The Rhetoric and Ethics of Personal Branding.

George Cheney

George Cheney

They refered to personal branding as “…a startlingly overt invitation to self-commodification” worthy of “careful and searching analysis…as (perhaps) an extreme form of a market-appropriate response.
Examining complex rhetoric tactics used in personal branding, they identified how these approaches shape power relations by gender, age, race, and class.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation identified the potential biases facing women and members of minority groups in meeting unspoken, implicit requirements for executive presence embodied in personal appearance, a component of self-presentation.
These analyses suggest that personal packaging, branding, and marketing can have significant impact on professional opportunities and outcomes, despite challenges of tracing these effects.

-*What elements do you consider in “personal packaging” and the specific case of personal appearance?

-*How do you mitigate possible bias based on expectations for personal appearance?

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9 thoughts on ““Self-Packaging” as Personal Brand: Implicit Requirements for Personal Appearance?

  1. Fiona Mason

    First impressions do count in establishing personal brand. There are some fascinating statistics on the physiology of first impressions – when humans first meet. What I find scary is the fact that the internet now probably accounts for a majority of first impressions.

    Reply
    1. kathrynwelds Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Fiona.
      I’d love to learn more about the findings on physiology of first impressions.
      I think you’re correct that the internet (in the form of email and social media) account for a substantial portion of first encounters.
      One example is my experience working in a large global organization: I have never met (in person) many people with whom I work frequently and closely.
      Our working relationships occur via video conferencing, telephone with video and email.
      On the rare occasions that I’ve met these colleagues in person, it’s a perceptual challenge to grasp that a life-size (taller or shorter than expected!) 3-D individual is the same as the postage-stamp size 2-D image, even though the voice is the same.
      As you reinforce, first impressions do count, and managing internet-based first impressions is a new skill for many of us to develop.

      Reply
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