by Nicole Longstreath | Featured Contributor
If you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to tell you that a sizable part of the population in the United States has moved from the corporately-employed column over into the self-employed column.
Even if you, yourself, aren’t a “solopreneur” or freelancer, chances are that you know someone who is.
But working for yourself and building a business isn’t what it used to be. And, by “used to be,” I mean as recently as 5 years ago.
Today, if you’re a service professional, the minimum requirement to be taken seriously online requires not just a website, but a complete branding package.
Even “old-fashioned” professions like lawyers aren’t exempt from having at least a decent headshot.
Prospective clients and, really, the general public – anyone who views your photo and website – need to know what you’re all about by a quick scan of your website. That’s how people get hired.
She who has the best branding wins.
But branding is much more than the combination of graphics and professional photos. Branding is a visual representation of you – and good branding communicates your core values so that you attract the right clients.
Since we don’t live online alone, carrying that brand into the IRL part of our lives is very important. And growing your familiarity with everyone you meet requires having a consistent and notable look – which includes hair, makeup and clothing. And you want all three of those to be 1.) cohesive and 2.) authentic to you.
That is achieved by having a muse.
A brand muse is a bit like a compass. In a noisy world, it’s easy to get distracted from your core values by what others are doing. But when you have a muse, your mission – and coordinating outward image – remains clear.
So, how do we cultivate this muse? Strategic vision boarding.
I know, I know – we’re vision boarded out! But this is different. Instead of just collating wistful images of beaches and words like, “aaaaaaahhh …” we’re collecting visual reminders.
And the good news is, you’re probably already doing something like this on Pinterest. No need to cut up your good magazines.
So, here’s how to make your Muse Vision Board on Pinterest:
- Ask yourself, who and what has been influential and/or inspiration during your childhood, teenage years and young adulthood. We’re talking personalities: real, imagined or fictional. Who did you admire? Let this question marinate in your brain and add to your board when you think of someone.
- Then, ask yourself about your leadership style – how do you project authority? Go back to your muse board and edit; add and take away images that either align or don’t align.
That is how you cultivate a brand muse – by looking inward at what inspires you, no matter how quirky or unexpected. And it’s in those small breaks from the norm where you’ll find your unique branding genius.
PS – wanna take a peek at my own muse board?
Nicole Longstreath is on a mission to save women from the dysfunctional shopping experience. She is a virtual wardrobe stylist working with women across the globe to build personal brands that command attention and influence.
Nicole began her journey as a stylist with a unusual “guerrilla shopping” experiment in 2010. For 6 months, she vowed to shop only at local thrift stores. Her theory: building a wardrobe on a micro-budget was totally possible – but only if she was clear on what she was looking for.
At the end of the experiment, she had a new wardrobe (for less than $500) and a new vision of what building a wardrobe should be like – whether it was done in a thrift shop or Bloomingdale’s.
Nicole believes that all women are entitled to their own, unique brand of personal style, regardless of age, size, shape or amount of disposable income. You can find her at her home base, theWardrobeCode.com, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.