What does your dress code and clothing say about your brand?
People make decisions on who they think you are within the first few seconds of seeing you.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to say that your clothing or style of dressing can tell people a lot about not just who you are, but also what you do, what your ambitions are, your religion or even how you like to spend your spare time.

People make decisions on who they think you are within the first few seconds of seeing you. Sometimes these impressions go way beyond how well you are dressed or how neat and tidy you might look.
Sound a little too insightful? Bare with me as I look at how what you wear can create an impression about you and your brand within a matter of seconds.

So what exactly does your dress code say about you and your brand?

Historically clothing was worn to keep us warm and protect us from the elements. However, in the world that we live in today, what we wear is often a reflection of your personality, social standing and beliefs. They can also be a tool to position ourselves in a particular way that we want to be perceived. But how do you infuse this into your brand? Does your brand have the same personality that you do and if not, how do you make the two come together so that they reflect each other?

“It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, what you choose to wear can affect not just your own self image or what others think of you, but also the way in which people behave towards you.”

The bottom line is this… you need to dress for the success of your brand.

If you are building a personal brand, then this is even more relevant to you and your success.

Naomi Simson Red Balloon

Naomi Simpson from Red Balloon is a fantastic example of how she has been able to build her personal brand around wearing only red! Yes, every time she is photographed, she is always wearing red. She has taken the red from Red Balloon and completely made herself part of the brand. Now she is a stand-alone personal brand and is easy to pick out in a crowd full of dark outfits as she is THE lady in red. I did a quick Google image search on Naomi and couldn’t find a single image online of her in any colour other than red!

Even a picture of her on the beach had her in a black wetsuit with red detail. Now that’s a commitment to your brand dress code. But it works and is an immediate visual cue to her and her brand.

We do judge a book by it’s cover

It might sound superficial, however, we all make snap judgements about people based on what they are wearing – the woman in a business suit and pumps must be successful, the man wearing overalls and metal tipped boots must be a trade of some sort. These stereotypical impressions are inherent in all of us, mostly due to history having created this characters, and with the help of television, these images are brought into our lives and living rooms.

Mad Men dress code

But times are changing. Have you ever watched Mad Men the TV series, which was based in New York in the 1960s, and revolves around the advertising industry? This was a male-dominated industry, and to demonstrate their expertise and high powered positions, the men would power-dress in suits and ties every day. The women wore tailored dresses with high heels and pearls. In the advertising today, things are very different.

Vince Frost - Frost Collective

Now the dress code is far more relaxed, even down to chinos and a collared shirt. Or if you happen to be a creative genius such as Vince Frost from Frost*Collective, then you just pull on a black T-Shirt and you’re set.

Steve Jobs was well known for only wearing a long sleeve black turtleneck and blue jeans. He did this day in and day out which is one identifying characterising of one of the worlds most well-known CEO’s. But why did he do this? The story of his personal uniform apparently developed after Jobs visited Sony factories in Japan in the 1980s. He noticed that all of the employees wore uniforms. The Sony chairman informed Steve that the uniforms, while originally given to staff because they didn’t have anything to wear after WWII, actually resulted in the workers bonding together, therefore creating a better brand culture.


Steve decided that this would be a great initiative for Apple employees but the idea wasn’t well received and got canned. Jobs, however, liked the idea of having a personal uniform for himself as it took out the time-wasting process of deciding what to wear every day – his new style was born and became known the world over.

Dressing for your industry is crucial.

Wearing activewear to a meeting when you’re a consultant and not a personal trainer, will not only be confusing from a branding point of view, it will give your client the wrong impression about you and your business. However, meeting clients in a suit if you are a personal trainer, won’t work either.

A number of years ago when my son was still a baby, I needed to get the house sprayed for pests. I hunted around to find a company that sprayed with environmentally and child-friendly spray. When the owner came to the door I was quite surprised, he was well dressed in a collared shirt and clean, trendy chinos. He shook my hand, and I noticed that they were clean (as were his nails). He presented well and immediately made me feel at ease as he spoke about what he would be doing and where he would be spraying.

Before he started I noticed him go to his van and pull out a white jumpsuit that he put over his clothes. He then added gloves and finally booties over his shoes. He explained to me later that this was so that he didn’t bring any dirt into the house! After he had sprayed, he took all of his protective wear off, washed his hands and came to give me the invoice. I was so impressed! I used him every year after that until we moved houses. Not only did he make an impression on with what he was wearing, but his whole process was clearly thought out and reflected so well on his brand that I tell everyone in that area about him.

What you wear can make you look more confident, intelligent, trustworthy, responsible, authoritative or even organised. On the other hand, if you have not taken any care with what you wear, the impression that you could be projecting is disinterested, disorganised, insecure and slovenly.

If you would like to learn more about branding, why not sign up for our Brand Magic Masterclass.


Written by branding specialist Debbie O’Connor
Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker

Written by our Creative Director & Branding Specialist Debbie O'Connor - Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker

Published: Aug 31st, 2016