"The way you look is critical for a successful sales career." - Interview by John Smibert
I talk a lot about digitally based personal branding and yet too often physical appearance get's overlooked.
We talk about authenticity and consistency in the way we manage our digital brand. The same principles apply when it comes to our physical appearance and particularly the way we dress
I asked Jatin Vengurlekar, CEO and creative director of custom tailor menswear outlet Montagio, for advice on developing our physical brand. He provided some excellent thoughts with some great case studies.
View my discussion with Jatin below to learn more about how to dress to dress to develop a relevant, respected and authentic physical representation of your brand.
Jatin is the creative director and CEO of Montaggio. He is a leading adviser on fashion for business people.
John: Welcome back Strategic Selling Group, all my followers - great to have you again and it's great to have Jatin with me again! Remember, Jatin is the CEO and Creative Director for Montagio, which is a tailor for men, and much more than a tailor I can tell you. He made me look reasonably good in suits - welcome back, Jatin!
Jatin: Thank you, John - good to be here again!
John: What I wanted to talk to you a little bit about is I talk a lot about personal branding, particularly for sales professionals and sales leaders, etc., because I think it's really important, but most of my emphasis these days is on the digital world and how you build a brand in a digital world, and I just assume people know about the physical branding they need to go through. But of course we all need advice in that area, so I thought let's talk about that a little bit, personal branding from a physical point of view. Can you tell us what you think we should be thinking about?
Jatin: Sure. One of the biggest things that people need to think about, especially if you're a public figure or if you're well-known in your industry or a domain expert, is you want to be known not only for how you talk and your domain and what your expertise is but also how you dress, how you project yourself, and I think a really classic or great example was Steve Jobs.
John: He was, wasn't he? The black turtleneck, the sneakers...
Jatin: The sneakers and blue jeans; he basically had the same look everywhere he went. I don't know how many of those he had in his wardrobe, but I'm sure he had one for every day of the year.
John: But it was a real brand, wasn't it? We all knew Steve Jobs and what he looked like and how he projected himself.
Jatin: That's right. He projected himself as simple yet creative, and that aligned very well with his brand Apple as well, which also can be known as a simple, easy to use sort of tech but very creative. So that was great, how he established his personal brand that way. Having said that, that doesn't mean you have to do the same as what he did, which is dress the same everywhere; you can have a certain theme to the way that you dress and present yourself in public.
John: As we talked last time, you've got to think about your audience, don't you, your customers, the customer base, the audience, whatever you want to call that. But if you're selling to bankers or insurance companies or legal companies, etc., they all dress in a certain way, and the last thing you want to do - probably, in most instances - is to turn up in a turtleneck and jeans.
Jatin: That's right, that's right. Are you dressing to adapt to your customers or your target market, or are you dressing to create a personal brand? There's two aspects to it. If you look at Steve Jobs, he wasn't necessarily dressing to cater to a particular type of target market; I think that was the brand he created for himself, because he was a public figure.
John: Well, you did say simple and creative, and that was the Apple thing that they were putting forward, and the people who were buying from that brand projected well. Even if I was a banker and I was going to use an iPad, I could understand the brand through Steve Jobs in the way he dressed, so I think that made sense.
Jatin: Yes - it still makes sense.
John: Relative to that, there's a lot of people raising the question about ties these days. Ties are less and less used or worn, and yet a lot of people say it's really important, particularly if you're selling to a professional environment, that a tie should be used. What's your view on that?
Jatin: I think, again, it comes down to how you adapt to your audience and what kind of brand. It also comes down to what kind of brand image you're trying to project for yourself, and it should be aligned to some degree through no matter who you're presenting to. For example, if you're trying to project that more successful, upmarket type of look and give that impression to people as your brand, then yes, wear the tie and always wear the tie.
John: And a similar tie?
Jatin: You can change it around, but a similar theme. [laughs]
John: It's a serious question, because I've seen a lot of people that always wear that red tie, because "That's my brand."
Jatin: Let's take Donald Trump for example. [laughs]
John: A good example, or bad example, as the case may be.
Jatin: It's always a plain tie, it's either a bright red or it's a bright blue, that's pretty much the variation, and his suit is always dark, whether it's black or midnight navy, and his shirt is always white. So he doesn't really stray from those colours and that sort of look.
John: And you think that works for Donald Trump?
Jatin: I guess it works for him. What people think of him is all based on how he behaves, but at the end of the day he has established that "This is how I dress."
John: "This is my brand," yes.
Jatin: "This is my brand," exactly.
John: It's an interesting question, I sort of all the time question whether I should be putting a tie on or not, but I think what you're leading to is you need a consistent brand.
John: A lot of people like to be very different in how they dress one day to the next day or the next day, and you're saying maybe that's not the right thing to do.
Jatin: No. At least in your public-facing life you should have that consistency, so that people remember, "That was the guy who wore that pinstripe suit and he always wears that pinstripe suit, it looks a little bit like the mafia," or whatever it might be, but at least they remember you for that. That's what branding is all about, how they remember you and how they view you as well.
John: Right. This is an interesting question for the ladies, because they want to project something quite different, a lot of them, every time, but when you're in business and you're doing business day in and day out, you're saying that may not be the right strategy.
Jatin: Yes. Take Gail Kelly for example, a great example, an Australian businesswoman, CEO of a major bank. She projects a very powerful image and very intelligent image as well. The way she dresses may not be the exact same suit and the exact same colour, but it's got that professional...
John: But it's the same look and feel, isn't it?
Jatin: That same look and feel, exactly, it's consistent. That's how she has branded herself, as a powerful and intelligent woman who has reached the heights of success.
John: Okay. Good lessons for me. I'm not sure about the tie versus a no tie, but I've certainly migrated to no tie. I was brought up in the IBM world where it was the white shirt and dark tie, and it took me a while to be able to dress down a little bit from that and change the image a little bit. But what you're saying is that that's not necessarily bad; it's what you need to project for your particular type of target audience.
Jatin: That's right, yes.
John: But you need to be consistent with it.
Jatin: Consistency is important.
John: So don't wear jeans one day and a top suit the next day.
Jatin: Exactly, exactly.
John: Okay. Great advice, I really appreciate your time and your insight. Hopefully that was a little bit different, and creates some thoughts for our sales audience out there - thank you!
Jatin: Thank you, John!
See previous discussion with Jatin:
"Dress sense for great first impressions"
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