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Brand New You!

06 March 2017

How important are style and personal branding? Ruby asked Emily Kucukalic, Founder and Managing Director of the marketing and personal branding consultancy Brand New You, for her thoughts and tips.

Simply stated - your personal brand is how people describe you when you are not there. It’s what stands out about you. It’s how you are remembered. It’s about how you make people feel.  

Importantly, we see people before we hear them. And now, we see people online before we see them in person, before we hear them. So there is a long time between your first visual impression and the time that you actually get speak to someone. In fact, your ability to influence whether someone likes you is based 7% on what you say, 38% on how you say it and 55% on your physical presence.

Your personal style is one of the simplest ways to influence the impact that you have and the reaction that others will have to you. Think how do you want people to describe you? How do you want to make people feel? What do you want to stand for?

Your personal brand is your most important asset. Like all brands, it has two components. A functional (what you do) and an emotional (how you make people feel) part. Eventually, you will be up against someone who’s functional (or 7% content/skill set) is equal to yours. The emotional part will be what decides the winner – how you make others feel about you, themselves and the environment in which they operate.

Personal style can significantly impact how people perceive you – that is why people choose to wear team jerseys, tiaras and red lipstick (not often together unless you are Katie Perry or Gaga!).

The key, when thinking about your personal brand and style, is that you can be anything you want to be. You just need to be deliberate. Think of your brand as a promise and then ensure you consistently deliver on that promise.

Having a strong personal brand is not about fashion or wearing the latest trends. Think instead of your ‘costume’. What part of your personal brand you are projecting? It is about being true to your brand; true to your promise.

Are you wearing the right costume for how you want people to perceive you? Dress for the role that you want in 5 years’ time. What are your personal brand values? Is it fun? Then wear bright colours. Is it incisive insight? Then a sharp tailored navy suit is your go to.

A physiological change actually occurs in your brain when you wear an outfit perceived to mean something. It is called ‘unclothed cognition’. Let me explain… Dr Adam Galinsky from the Columbia Business School conducted a series of experiments with results showing that our performance increases when we are wearing something we believe to be important. The most famous experiment involved a group of students, lab coats and a maths test. The students who believed they were wearing doctors’ coats outperformed on every level the students who believed they were wearing painters’ coats. Unclothed cognition is an extension of the school of psychology called ‘embodied cognition’ which says that our bodies influence our brains as much as our brains influence our bodies. We feel better, therefore we perform better. 

It is why magazines cite the perfect ‘interview outfit’. It matters less what the outfit is (providing it is appropriate for the role) and more about the impact the outfit has on the wearer and its audience. 

If you look back at every Presidential inauguration of the past 50 years you will notice Presidents all wear navy suits. Ties are either red, representing change and passion, or blue, representing stability and power. This is not a coincidence. This is modern power dressing, a phrase coined and loved in the 1980s. Tudor England was no different: King Henry VIII understood all too well the power of dressing and used armour, codpieces, capes and crowns to demonstrate the wealth and power of his reign. His own daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, used costume to build strength and stillness – powerful regal qualities. Uniforms are a good example of the psychology of clothing being put into practice. Uniforms actually perform two seemingly opposing functions: conformity and conspicuousness. Police uniforms, for example, are designed so that police personnel stand out in a crowd – that we know they will look after us if we need them. They are recognisable by simultaneously all being the same and in being different to civilians.

Corporate uniforms are the same. They are designed to demonstrate the capability of the job being undertaken. A tradesperson wears a different uniform to a bank teller – but both perform a function. The uniform makes it immediately obvious what function they perform.

The 55% is more than just clothes. It is all the non-verbal cues, you bring into an exchange. It is how you walk, how you sit, the way that you enter a room – whether you ‘see’ the people you are meeting.

It’s a cliché, but worth remembering, that you can’t repeat a first impression. So make your first impression count.

Tips for perfecting your costume

People see you before they hear you – do your clothes reflect your capability? If not – choose something else.  

Your walk tells a story, how you stand tells a story. When wanting to impress – try to be neutral. 

If unsure when leaving the house, think, would I like my ex to see me in this? If the answer is no, then change! Every time. 

No grown woman looks good in – thongs, braids, ski pants (off a ski field), jodhpurs (off a horse) or with any part of their undergarments showing. 

If you are ever in a shop and everyone else (including the sales staff) is more than 5 years younger than you, get out! There is a better shop for you down the road.   

Your eyes tell your age, no matter how good you look. Your experience shines through them. So you may as well dress your age. 

It is a cliché, but the best accessory that you can have is a smile. 

If money is tight, buy black. After 40 – try for navy blue as it is softer on your face. 

Bra straps are for under your clothes – don’t show them. Spaghetti straps are for the evening. 

You don’t have to show skin to get attention – in fact the best dressed women are usually “dressed”. 

A longer skirt with a shorter jacket makes you look taller and slimmer. 

Fit should flatter. Choose tailored over tight. 

Bare with flair. Bare shoulders have always been a distraction! So be deliberate about when you bare them. 

Brand New You work with individuals on developing personal brand and building presence. Clients include: The Westpac Group, Credit Suisse, IBM, Ernst & Young, Ray White, SAP and The Women’s College at University of Sydney. For more information please visit



  • Bree Somer

    Bree Somer 3 years ago

    Great article! LOVED "Brand = how thought of, how make people feel, what stand for... + think on brand as promise & deliver consistently". Thanks for sharing :)