YOU Are the Brand

The hallmarks of successful people in the global marketplace are their confidence, attitude, authenticity, and gracious manners. A strong personal brand is paramount for effective leadership and building long-term, significant relationships.

“A brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

—Jeff Bezos, Founder;

We all know about the brands that don’t require a full name—Oprah, Lady Gaga, Martha, Elvis, the Donald. Their brand says it, without saying a word, good or bad!

Do you think these “mega brands” looked closely at personal branding? Do you think they identified the key components of the brand they wanted to present to the world? 

Did they have a brand strategy plan and a team to build their unique personal brand story? 

They have built huge successful companies making large profits. Why? They understood the power of branding. They became a COMPANY OF ONE spending time, money, and energy creating a brand appealing enough to sell their product through to market by building a strong connection with the buyer. Have they succeeded? You bet!

How much time, money, and energy have you spent in developing a personal brand that is unique enough to sell YOU?

A survey in the Wall Street Journal notes that the more charismatic CEO, the better the firm performsfrom 10 to 15 percent better. When I walk into the reception area of a company, to meet with that CEO hiring us to train his staff who lack the soft skills needed for them to gain more business success, I know exactly what the key message is being sent down the line from the executive suite. The CEO’s “brand status” influences and translates down the line to the front door.

We not only pay more for those who are perceived to have recognizable brands mentioned, but as CEOs, lawyers, architects, or successful entrepreneurs, we also put a higher value on their properties. As an example, Sotheby’s sold Jackie Kennedy costume jewelry earring by Kenneth Jan Lane for $28,000.

“Create your own visual style; let it be unique to yourself & yet identifiable for others.”

—Orson Welles, author, playwright

Whether you like it or not, the personal brand you project affects others’ decisions as to your intelligence, character, and ability. It further determines whether or not they what to do business with you. You may be a newbie, entrepreneur, professional, a sales rep, or CEO, but no matter what…


Before you sell anythingyour product, company or serviceyou sell yourself first!

The presence you project has a remarkable impact on the people you meet.

Have you dismissed the power of your personal brand, thinking it superficial? Have you lost business or a big contract and don’t know why? Have you failed to get the promotion or your presentation for venture capital went south? Have friends disappeared and memberships been denied?

Shift the balance of power! When you are well branded, you have brand status. You are perceived to be more desirable and in demand. You are PRE-SOLD with a tremendous advantage over the competition.

Brand status increases the bottom line, both personally and in business.

Here’s a great example: Marsha Clark, the prosecuting attorney in the OJ Simpson case trial, transformed right before our eyes. She went from a serious, poorly dressed, frizzy-haired woman to a well-polished and stylish one who got a whopping $4.5 million book deal. How? She got branded. Where is Marsha NOW? She is hosting a detective show on a major U.S. channel!

When you want someone to date you, you don’t just stand there in the street naked. Instead, you put on the outfit that reveals just enough and covers up just enough to make people want more. To get someone interested in you, just give away a few pieces of information. You want to tease them, whet their appetite, and make them drool for more. In the beginning, it is simply style over substance. Substance comes later. It’s the same in the business game!

In this hyped, impersonal world of miscommunication, perception is reality. Unfortunately, studies also show that we make snap judgments (at a gut level) about others in the first seven seconds. Perception is reality. Decisions are made as to another’s character, expertise, and eligibility. Sometimes they are made on the smallest things: your entrance into a room, the way you behave at a business lunch, your opening line, your handshake, or the way you dress.

Even though intelligence, experience, and education count, CEOs tell us they are not hiring (or promoting) those who do not possess the all-important soft communication skills. They also say tech skills are just a given today.

Helping a client develop a personal brand takes time and commitment. It isn’t instant pudding. I follow a comprehensive assessment process that has developed over the last 25 years. It starts with a detailed analysis which includes indentifying goals, career/life vision, review of industry standards, leadership and personal style, wardrobe, body type, weight, health, presentation, manners, and dining evaluation, all leading to a customized, strategic plan to move forward.

Tips to Keep in Mind

To ensure others will judge you more favorably right from the start, here are some tips exactly where I begin when coaching clients. First: analyze “your visual package.” Has your hair style changed in the last five years? Is your personal style current or out of date? What about your grooming? Is your LinkedIn photo professional or a selfie? Do you have a habit such as twitching, tapping, and so on? Are you posture perfect? Do you know what your first seven seconds say about you? What does your handshake say about you? Do you know how to seal the lunch time deal? Are you sure about which fork to use when? 

A polished presence allows other to want to know if you’ve got the right stuff, to peek inside, and find the meat. Believe it: First impressions are instantaneous and irreplaceable.

It is the whole package that counts. The hallmarks of successful people in the global marketplace are their confidence, attitude, authenticity, and gracious manners. When you are well packaged, it’s only natural that you will attract more of what you want in life. A strong personal brand is paramount for effective leadership and building long-term, significant relationships.

Be a smarter marketer…

To attract the best, you need to be the best!

Shannon Smith is a personal brand expert and founder of Premiere Image International based in Toronto, Canada. Her Contemporary Finishing School provides customized training programs in Charismatic Leadership: Personal Branding and Image Mastery (attire, style, grooming); Presentation Skills, Social Manners and Business Etiquette; and Dining Programs for fortune 500 companies and individuals across North America. Smith is passionate about assisting her clients transform from unnoticed to unforgettable. She is a TV personality, speaker, columnist and author of “Power Manners—How to Use Your Personal Skills for Business and Social Success.” For more information, visit: Or e-mail for your free, fun etiquette quiz and find out if you can tell the difference between naughty and nice. 


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