Build Your Personal Brand: Scope Out Your Visual Identity

We humans make decisions about “who” other people are within seconds. It has been scientifically proven that we “give” internal characteristics to people just based on how they look. Because of that, our visual identity is an important part of our personal brand. Read more below about how to tweak your visual identity so that it works for your personal brand, rather than against you!


Let’s say you’re invited to a party and you volunteer to bring chips and salsa. While at the grocery store, none of the salsa brands on the shelf look familiar to you, so you’re going to purchase a new kind. You see that all of the brands come in mild, medium, and hot versions. You don’t want to spend too much time on a “salsa purchase decision,” so you finally reach for a jar that looks good and put it in your cart. When you get it to the party, it tastes just as good as any salsa.

We make buying decisions solely based on how a product or display looks every week! The product brand managers understand that their products tell us something about identity through the product’s color, shape, imagery, logos, and packaging. When we – the consumer – look at a product, we quickly decide what we think about it. Is it fun or boring? Highbrow or lowbrow? Pricey or cheap? Will it be delicious or not? The visual identity of a product plays a key role in our buying decisions.

Did you know that we also make quick decisions about people (similar to how quickly we evaluate products)? Studies show we gauge other people within seconds.

In other studies, sociologists found that we attach positive internal characteristics to people who are physically attractive. In these studies, they used photos of people who were at various stages of attractiveness. The people being studied never met the people they evaluated; they only saw them in photos. These folks being tested decided that the more attractive people were nicer, more industrious, and more successful than the other less attractive people.

Since we actually do this, part of branding yourself involves scoping out your own visual identity. This is a good thing to do every five to 10 years, in fact.

First, list out your best and worst features. (You don’t need to ask anyone else. You already know what they are!) Also assess:

  • Your posture
  • How you walk
  • The clothing you wear to work
  • The accessories you wear to work (glasses, watch, jewelry, etc.)
  • Your hairstyle
  • Your shoes

Next, think of a few people you’ve known (or have known of) who have a great business sense for their visual identity. What is it about their sense of style and visual presence that really works? How can you “borrow” from them to add to your look?

What about your current visual identity will you keep and what will you change?

(This is my own unscientific observation: Many men will choose the hairstyle they keep for the rest of their life when they’re about 30 to 35 years old. Some women do the same when they’re between 18 and 25 years old.) Is it time for an updated hairstyle?

When I recently gave a talk on this subject (“Brand Yourself Without Getting Burned”), someone asked me if plastic surgery would become even more popular. While I agree that it will, how about considering several less invasive procedures?

For example, talk to your dentist about getting your teeth whitened! (If you’re under 30, you can use the white strips. If you’re over 30, talk to your dentist.) There are several good methods out there for whitening your teeth. Getting your teeth whitened will take years off of you. It gives you a clean appearance. (If this is the only thing you do to change your visual identity, do this!)

Other medical procedures are more and more available to help your looks that are less invasive than full blown plastic surgery. Women’s magazines constantly include articles discussing updates. Talk with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to find out what works.

But let’s not forget about visually updating the easy stuff: hair, clothes, shoes, glasses, your posture, and how you walk. (I’ll add teeth whitening to the easy list; though, if you choose one of the better whitening procedures, it’s not cheap).

Many people think of working on your personal brand as being solely about working on how you look. But from this series of blogs I’ve written so far, you can see that the visual aspect is just one part of it. It’s an important part, but it’s just one part.

When are you going to evaluate your visual identity?

What will you keep and what will you change?


Glory Borgeson is a business coach, author, and speaker.

Do you want some help developing your own personal brand? Glory has created the “Brand Yourself! Coaching Program”. It is a self-paced coaching program you can purchase directly from Borgeson Consulting. Since it is a self-paced coaching program, it is very affordable – less expensive than traditional coaching by telephone, and you complete it at your own pace.

The “Brand Yourself! Coaching Program” has 10 modules, taking you through each of the essential elements of personal branding.
Check it out on Glory’s website by clicking here.
Or call (630-653-0992)
or e-mail ( to find out more about it.


  1. Dr Wright on June 1, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Dressing up the outside is important, however making sure what comes out of your mouth full of white teeth makes sense, is also important.

    Dr. Letitia Wright
    The Wright Place TV Show

  2. Glory Borgeson on June 29, 2009 at 11:14 am

    The blog about your brand’s “verbal identity” is at this link:

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