So, here’s the first of my personal brand review blogs that I am starting to help you understand the importance of managing your personal brand and the impact it can have both positive and negative.
I’ve chosen Theresa May to start with because she is an iconic figure in British politics for arguably the right and wrong reasons when you look at her personal brand.
To give some context, personal branding focuses on two key areas – image and personality. When managed effectively they can allow you to build your reputation as an authority and create an image that people are drawn too as well as building strong relationships and increasing your personal wealth.
So, let’s take a look at Theresa May in both of these contexts:
It was quite apparent leading up to her appointment as Prime Minister and going up against the ‘scruffier and less appealing’ Jeremy Corbyn, that many people felt that she had a much cleaner and more polished image required for the role of UK Premier.
There has been much said about her choice of footwear too and this whilst not relevant in terms of her appointment, it has given her personal brand image an extra edge that has widened her appeal and the fascination for what she wears.
When it comes to image generally, her look is very professional and conservative and she gives off an air of authority that enables her to project herself as confident and poised on the world stage. Although, tending to favour darker colours of navy and black trouser and dress suits for many of her official engagements, it’s great to see that she is also not afraid to wear brighter colours either and has been seen to feature a lot of red in her dresses and suit coats, along with sky and royal blues, green, orange, purple and patterns. It’s obvious that she knows what she likes and what suits her style and figure.
However, in my opinion given her role as Prime Minister and this would apply to anyone in that position, you need to be able to appeal to all members of society. I feel that her look generally may come across as unapproachable to some and possibly stuck up to others.
What could she do to change that and connect better with all the electorate? Potentially softening her image a little more so that she doesn’t always look so official such as dressing more often in smart casual attire when visiting schools or meeting the general public. In my opinion wearing her hair in the longer shoulder length bob that she had in her earlier days as an MP softened her features much more than the short bob look she is currently sporting, which makes her look more like a stern headmistress!
Overall, I don’t think there is much wrong with Theresa May’s image in terms of her personal brand. She dresses in a way that enables her to look the part and she carries herself well for representing the United Kingdom on the world stage which is what we need – just a few tweaks here and there and she’ll have a much more rounded image.
When reviewing her personality, again, I think again she is quite capable of conducting herself in a professional and articulate manner for her role. When prepared, she knows what to say and how to present her case with the level of authority a leader requires. However, therein also lies the problem ‘when prepared’! Over the course of the last few months it has become quite apparent that she may not be capable of dealing with situations where she is not in control or where she may be in the firing line and having to defend herself!
Taking on a leadership role, especially leader of a country means accepting the good, the bad and the ugly, admitting when you are wrong, being able to put yourself in the place of your audience…or electorate in this case, leading by example and directing yourself and the decisions you make with an ethical and moral code of conduct.
Her decision to not face members of the public in the live leadership debates before the June 2017 election, the loss of her majority in the election and, her subsequent absence in facing the residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy among other things have exposed a side to her personality that she probably would have preferred to stay hidden.
The terms cold, arrogant, weak, out of touch and more have been bandied about in the media, both social and press, damaging her reputation and her authority in the process!
I’m sure this is not what was intended given the ‘strong and stable’ tagline that was constantly used to convince voters that she was the right person for Prime Minister and leading the UK out of Europe.
It’s fair to say that this has been a very challenging few months for Theresa May. However, in order to rebuild her reputation and regain some confidence in her ability to do the job, she needs to show that she is capable of holding her own in situations that require her to face the music unexpectedly – not just those that she is able to prepare for.
Learning how to be more open, honest and compassionate in the way she communicates are attributes that I feel she really needs to work on if she is to stay in her position. They are personality assets that will allow her to show confidence and articulate her empathy and understanding of any given situation as well as fulfilling her intentions of leader of the UK.
As individuals, we will never appeal to everyone, but transparency, strength, resilience and most of all authenticity are key to building a ‘strong and stable’ personal brand!