Welcome to BRAND:You
Personal branding got a somewhat deserved bad rap in the nineties and 'aughties. You had a bunch of people "branding" themselves when they really weren't anything special to start with. Does a 20-something really need to get a trademark on their signature? Should anyone's name be used as a verb? In short, no, that was when branding jumped the shark (another 90's term) Unless you have a zillion dollar a year contract for doing something else you probably don't need your own logo.
We are going to work a different kind of branding, closer to what a fashion house does when it hires a new designer to refresh its image but it doesn't want to alienate its loyal customers. We are going to refresh our images, we, being us, since I am in on this with you in the needing the refreshing. I turned 46 this year and while I look good for my age, for the most part, the creeping invisibility of the middle-aged woman is starting to strike.
Now I work on a college campus but it is not like I want to start picking up undergraduate boys, first the training period is worse than house breaking a puppy and frankly, while they are cute there isn't a whole lot going on in there most of the time -and I work with the smart ones! So, thanks, I'll take the guy that has a little mileage under his belt and a few stories to tell, the one that I am lucky enough to get to wake up with every morning. What it lacks in that "spark of the unknown" excitement it more than makes up for in the "smooth like butter" department but that is just my life. Maybe you are starting from a different place and that works too. The starting point is irrelevant as long as happy, healthy, and vibrant are where we end up.
No makeover would be complete without hair and makeup but let's start with clothes because actually in some ways they are the easiest and make the biggest statement. When I was a theater major (are you surprised?) I would start developing my character with the shoes, which let me figure out how they walked and then came the clothes so I could figure out how they stood and moved. What they actually thought was the playwright's problem. You get the idea, we are going to do that in reverse order of sorts, only you aren't a character (well, maybe you are?) you are a living, breathing, thinking, feeling person so we are going to go deeper and get to the heart of what you, and to an extent, other people think you are. I will be adding a forum, despite not really wanting to, but I think that this process is too important to go on your own and we are going to need somewhere to talk about things that come up. I'll be adding more articles here as things come up so you can develop Brand: You.
So here are the steps we are going to take:
Step One) What is your BRAND:You?
This is a decent quiz to help you figure out how you present yourself and why? There is no magic here just good questions. Answer them honestly and print out the sheet at the end. You may not like your answers, that is fine, as biologic organisms it is our right to change and adapt and you can choose how and when in this case. Take the quiz, it will give you a starting point that you can build from.
If you are more visually oriented you might like to try this quiz. The article is about home decoration but the style attributes it identifies are valid even for fashion. Stylestatement.com makes the case for giving your style a definite name. I tend to agree that naming a concept makes it more real, which can be very helpful when trying to find what works for you. There is lots of good info there and I recommend their book as a deeply thoughtful exercise for when you have gotten to the point that you can't hear your own voice in your head anymore.
Step Two) Developing your BRAND:You Collection
So this building a collection thing has really gotten to me. Even if you buy your clothes you are still putting together a collection, the difference with us sewists, is that we can work with colors that are unique to us, add details that may not be the latest thing but work for us, mix pieces that you can't find in a store -you get the idea. There will be lots of information here on how designers build their collections so we can take the information from the research we did on ourselves and put that into a visual form. Ultimately, we want to translate that into actual garments. This shows how Christopher Bailey of Burberry developed a capsule collection for Winter 2010/11. I am in the process of working out just what my essential pieces are, and what my demands would be of them -easier said than done!
Sometimes a huge part of a collection's identity is its logo. Think I am kidding, imagine Chanel with out the double C's, or Louis Vuitton without the LV. Covering yourself in your own logo is tough to do with a personal brand but there are plenty of companies that go a more subtle route and we can do that easily! Having a label of your own says that these clothes that you made, matter, and are something to be proud of. Admittedly, not many people are going to see the label but won't you smile every time you do? Find out how to make a logo and label for your collection here.
So you know what clothes you want in your collection, you may even have a logo, but you don't have an idea of where to get those patterns. Well, make them of course! We are smarter than the average consumer that just blindly follows trends we want something that we don't see coming and going. We want our clothes, not everyone's clothes so the only real way to get that is to start doing some designing. The best way to start is to with a piece you love to death and are wearing now. I can hear you, "I don't want to rip it apart to get the pattern! I love this." Well, you don't have to. Read my review of Steffani Lincecum's wonderful book.