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

Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill

Al Ries

Al Ries

During the economic 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.

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.”

Tom Peters

Self-packaging can be considered “the shell of who you are” whereas personal branding can be “what sets you apart from the crowd.

Jim Kukral

Jim Kukral

These differentiators can include visible characteristics like attire, business cards, speaking style, according to Jim Kurkal and Murray Newlands.

Daniel Lair

Daniel Lair

University of Michigan’s Daniel Lair with Katie Sullivan of University of Utah, and Kent State’s George Cheney investigated personal branding, presentation, and packaging.

George Cheney

George Cheney

They referred to personal branding as “…self-commodification” worthy of “careful and searching analysis“ of complex rhetoric tactics that 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 some of these power relationships and potential biases facing women and members of minority groups who are expected to demonstrate aspects of personal branding, including executive presence.

These analyses suggest that personal packaging, branding, and marketing can significantly affect professional opportunities and outcomes.

-*What elements do you consider in “personal packaging” and its component, personal appearance?

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

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©Kathryn Welds


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.

    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.

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