They lost me @ the hair – complexion contrast scale .
While the lady with a fake accent kept quoting ridiculous examples like how ‘Stylish’ was an awesome ‘Personal Branding’ for Sonam Kapoor & the same line of thought was ‘branding gone wrong’ for Hina Rabani Khar, another Personal Branding session had started inside my head.
At a recently held ‘Personal Branding’ workshop at work exclusively for women – the general conclusion being drawn was your clothes determine the kind of perception you create at work.
Its shocking how women nurture these stereotypes about women being all about clothes more than men!!
I was offended.
1. I am a brand professional. And if you tell me branding is all about a smart logo , line or WORSE ‘what you SEE’ then I ll tell you to take a hike or maybe give you a lecture on Brand Management principles.
2. I am a woman. AND an ardent believer of the need for a personal brand at work. I also happen to hate it when women are treated like fancy accessories in boardroom discussions. Or constants to skew the gender diversity ratios to a more acceptable figure.
So what is it that irked me most really?
Personal Branding is a very HOT topic. Not only is it a brilliant thought , its very relevant for most professional women. I for one – do believe in the need and the power of creating one’s ‘unique value proposition’ in the work space that makes one stand out/ blend in whatever be one’s professional agenda.
So needless to say I was quite kicked about the workshop.
But I was personally let down with the content & execution of the program – both in thought & spirit as is perhaps clear from my tone & manner so far. Sarcasm definitely brings out the creative streak in us!
There is definitely much much more to creating a personal brand @ work than dressing as per one’s complexion / hair colour.
That’s the tangible. The fancy packaging , the catchy line . That you can see – and make a perception about the ‘core product’.
The brand would be a promise to deliver – like I said before – a unique experience . A long lasting association with the core benefits that a ‘product’ provides . The intangible.
That I believe is created through behavior , attitude & perception management. Clothes play a very limited role in that I believe.
So instead of declaring that the way they dress makes them what they are for ladies like Barkha Dutt , Indira Nooyi, Sonia Gandhi , Neeta Ambani ,Michelle Obama etc. The session should have covered how to create more positive , acceptable , value – benefiting experiences & relationships at work.
An iphone in a pretty mobile cover doesn’t make it just another beautiful gadget. Its an Apple product. Its about years of path breaking research. About great design , ergonomics , technology and user friendliness.
Like wise a Blackberry Z10. A business smart phone . Or Canvas , Lumia or Galaxy . They are all phones. But they have all distinct associations in our head. Created from past experiences & interactions – Direct or indirect.
So branding is necessary. Personal branding is imperative.
Are you the approachable mentor , or the knowledgeable coach. Are you the dependable subordinate , the authoritative boss who gets things done or the creative team mate who brings new perspectives to finding solutions.
Who really are you beyond the manager tag that you hold? THAT my ass-kicking girl in a business suit/Salwar Kameez – is your personal brand.
It is assumed that you have the knowledge & skills of a professional for the role that you take up. But how are you demonstrating them through interactions & experiences – is the deal breaker.
And what isn’t is – choosing your wardrobe carefully to have a CEO that’s heavy on investment ( A Jacket ) , a multitasking middle management (White Shirt , Black trousers ) and the workers ( Scarves , belts , shoes etc). Yes , I am laughing as I type this too!
As far as my experience goes – the area’s where women fall behind is
1. Networking & tapping on networking opportunities
2. Understanding the need of, Identifying & eventually leveraging opportunities of ‘displaying one’s strengths in the business environment’
3. Being accepted & seen ‘differently’ (and not comparatively to their male counterparts) for the strengths that they hold
Its amazing how ‘inclusivity’ is being seen as an area to invest in by the future ready organizations . We have come a long way from ‘diversity’ which is a positive step already,
But the interventions for the men in the organization who form a part of the ‘inclusive environment’ are far & in between while most initiatives are women targeted / centric- talks , workshops , forums , discussions etc.
The BIG questions we need answered by the MEN are
1. How to make inclusivity the DNA of our workspace – in word and action.
2. How to understand the difference between the strengths of a male / female colleague in one’s team & leverage the same effectively.
I don’t plan to join you on your ‘carbon break’ or beer party on saturday night to discuss this further .
But I am more than happy to help us all find answers to these life transforming questions through a discussion.
Or even discuss this ridiculous joke of a session over coffee.
Upfront . Positive . Creative . Approachable and Cohesive. That’s my personal brand after all.
Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.