Personal Branding: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words!

We have talked extensively about personal branding in this space, covering strategies that range from writing articles, to publishing books, to appearing on television. We’ve talked about the importance of creating a brand-centered website, writing a great biography, and connecting with your market via social media.

And each of these strategies is important. But there’s something that has to come first—something that may seem like “no big deal” but is in fact a critical element of your brand building strategy. I’m talking about your photograph. Sure, you can easily take a half-decent picture of yourself with your iPhone and use it everywhere it’s needed. But the difference between an amateur photo and a professionally staged picture is significant. Don’t look at your picture as a minor detail or an opportunity to cut costs. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when it comes to your photo:

1) Keep shooting until you get a great smile. Your picture should make you look warm, approachable, and friendly. An intimidating or unpleasant facial expression may keep potential clients from getting in touch with you. Keep working on your smile until it appears natural and appealing!

2) Dress the part. Don’t wear a suit and tie “by default.” For some, that is certainly the right look—but if your brand is to be more casual or relaxed, dress in a way that reflects this. This could mean anything from a jacket all the way to a Hawaiian shirt. Don’t let pre-conceived ideas of what you “should” wear for your photo keep you from expressing your brand.

3) Make sure you’re rested. This is more important than you may realize. It’s important that you get good rest before your photo shoot—this makes your eyes look brighter, your skin look better, and it avoids those dark circles under your eyes. It’s also important that you are well hydrated during your photo shoot.

4) If your photos need some “touching up”, do it! Don’t try to cut corners here—if your photos need some touch-ups to make you look your best, get it done. A good headshot will last you many years and could be seen literally millions of times… so it’s important that you do whatever it takes to get it right.

5) Use the same (or very similar) photos across your branding platforms. Your social media presence alone gives you plenty of opportunity to use different pictures—but resist the temptation. Remember that consistency is an essential element of building a powerful brand. Your picture plays a very important role in communicating your brand, so if your audience sees a different picture of you every place they look, they’re going to receive mixed signals regarding your brand.

It may seem like a trivial detail, but using a great picture of yourself is essential to your branding efforts. You know the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s certainly true in the world of personal branding, so do whatever it takes to end up with a fantastic photo!