Companies spend a lot of time and money on getting their corporate branding right, but how many are prepared to invest in helping employees with their personal branding?
I was delighted to be asked by Emma Maslen, MD of SAP Concur, to advise staff on how to “Dress For Success”. Emma had a personal consultation with me some years ago and felt that it had helped her develop a style that worked well for her both professionally and outside of work. Her aim was to help her staff feel equally confident about their clothing choices.
There’s no doubt that what we wear and how we present ourselves matters. We’ve got just a few seconds to create a lasting first impression and much of that is based on how we look. With company dress codes becoming less rigid, there is more scope than ever for us to develop an effective and authentic personal brand. Equally though, there is more scope to get it wrong! My presentations and workshops at SAP Concur were designed to help staff understand how to dress to create a great first impression and thereby maximise their chances of success.
We looked at the impact of colour and how different clothing styles work on particular body shapes and proportions. Getting the cut of a jacket or the length of a skirt right for the individual’s proportions is key to creating a balanced look and choosing the right colours not only makes us look healthier, it can also lift our mood and support the messages we want to convey. So, for example, wearing dark blue engenders reassurance and trust, whereas red is perceived as dynamic and assertive.
During workshops we identified the colours and combinations of colours which were most flattering to each individual. It was great to see everyone getting involved and supporting their colleagues. Many admitted that they often “played safe” by defaulting to black and were amazed by the difference even subtle colour switches (e.g. from black to navy or charcoal) could make to how good they looked. They each left with a personalised wallet of colour swatches feeling confident and excited to try out some colours they had not previously thought of wearing.
Ben Durrant, Senior Sales Operations Business Partner, attended the session and had this to say. "As a man it is automatically assumed that dressing for the office is easy, suit, shirt, smart shoes (possibly a tie) and you are off. So why would I need to attend a 'Dress for Success' workshop? For me it was more than just what not to wear, it was understanding that how I dress can have a real impact on how I am perceived in the workplace and support my personal brand. I was convienced that it would be aimed at women but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it catered equally for both and as a result took so much away from it. It was a fun, interative session that allowed me to push myself out of my wardrobe comfort zone and really add some colour."
Knowing what suits us and is appropriate for our role and environment takes the hassle out of getting dressed. We feel more confident and people respond more positively to us. It’s good to work with a company like SAP Concur which respects the individuality of its employees and is prepared to invest in helping them to develop their personal and professional style. It’s certainly time and money well spent; when staff look good and feel confident and appreciated, the company also reaps the benefits.
Here’s how Emma feels SAP Concur has benefited from giving employees the opportunity to find out more about what suits them: “There was an amazing difference in the team after the workshop. Confidence was boosted for everyone. The days after the office was filled with conversations of ‘wow – you look amazing in green…yellow. Etc.’”
Nicola Davis is a multi-award winning personal stylist and image consultant. As well as offering individual and group consultations from her studio in Hampshire, she works with retailers and businesses on staff programmes. Nicola trained with Europe’s leading image authority, Colour Me Beautiful, and has established herself as their top performing consultant across Europe, Middle East & Africa. She is also a member of the Federation of Image Professionals International and regularly appears on BBC Radio Solent as the style guru in their “Ask The Expert” slot.