By Jon Michail
Image Objects are an often underrated aspect of our personal branding. Your accessories (watch, glasses or even a brown eyed contact lenses, jewellery, shoes) and your tools (pen, laptop, phone) all work together to project a certain image. Other image objects that are part of your brand include the car you drive, your business logo and related visual branding, your personal office, and the objects inside it. All of these image objects hold great potential as effective tools of communication.
What your watch says about you
A simple watch can be a status symbol or a revelation of personality – expensive and flashy, no-name and serviceable, sentimental and personal. These days our phones tell us the time, and so is the very wearing of a watch a sentimental act? Something that speaks to our values and mindset even if the timepiece itself is not a family heirloom?
Clothes maketh the man
Our accessories can be powerful symbols conveying status, or personality. If all this sounds a bit pretentious to you, just think of these iconic accessories and see if they don’t instantly conjure an image to your mind.
- James Bond’s choice of drink, or car
- John Lennon’s glasses
- Michael Jackson’s white glove
- T’s chains
- Kanye West’s shutter shades
- Indiana Jones’s hat, jacket, and whip
- Abraham Lincoln’s top hat
Ok, so this list of (real and fictional) personalities might not do much to convince you that iconic accessories aren’t an affectation. The point is that these accessories are memorable. These men have become inseparable from their image objects, and not only do these objects send out messages, they come in a way to symbolise who these people are. Sophisticated, playful, action-oriented, dignified. The above examples may be exaggerations of the average person’s accessories, but everyone’s image objects say something about where they fit in society and how approachable they are. Ignoring the impact of our image objects will not make this any less true.
Sitting behind the big desk
The things we surround ourselves with are also image objects. One of the most public and most accessible in business is a person’s personal office.
How you arrange your office speaks to its use. If there is only one chair then you probably work alone without collaboration, whilst multiple chairs might indicate that you often welcome in clients or colleagues. The layout and style of these chairs will also say something about your interactions. Are visitors relegated to a small uncomfortable chair whilst you sit in state behind your mahogany desk?
Add to this the impression our surroundings have in our own minds. In an American study published in 2005 in the Journal of Environmental Psychology that looked at “organizations ranging from a Midwest auto supplier to a Southwest telecom firm,” researchers found “that the ability to control the environment had a significant effect on team cohesion and satisfaction.” The conclusion was that “when workers couldn’t change the way that things looked, adjust the lighting and temperature, or choose how to conduct meetings, spirits plummeted.”
Ignoring the impact of our image objects can be a costly mistake to make. So, as you take stock of your surroundings and accessories, keep the following in mind.
- Your image objects speak to your personality, values, and mindset. Not all image objects are practical, so what do they say about you?
- Image objects can make you memorable and recognisable. Your accessories send out messages and come in a way to symbolise who you are. Do your image objects set you apart as sophisticated? Relaxed? Dignified? What do they say about where you fit in society and how approachable you are?
- The things we surround ourselves with are also image objects, and can have a profound impact on our psychology and well-being.
If the objects which surround us have such an impact on ourselves and others, then why would anyone waste money on image objects that send the wrong message? Few companies would neglect the importance of a good logo or effective advertising, so it is important to think about the messages our whole brand sends. These things are achievable and well within our reach if we choose to learn how to employ them effectively.
Image Objects – the third aspect of what we at Image Group International like to call ‘The 7 Aspects of Authentic Image Management’TM – a part of the IGI Personal Branding System.TM This is more than just a slogan – the word authentic is there for a reason. Research shows we live in the most distrustful time in history. Our team want to work with you, to create the absolute best outcomes for your business and life.
I’ll be releasing a series of videos covering these 7 aspects, and I’d like to invite you to view them. I hope that they will give you further insight into the power of authentic image management, and how to grow your power and influence. How’s that sound to you?
Jon Michail is a veteran coach with a Who’s Who clientele, the CEO and Founder of Image Group International, an Australian-based corporate and personal brand image advisory and coaching organisation that conducts transformational seminars, workshops and one-on-one coaching in over four continents. He is recognised as Australasia’s No. 1 Image Coach.