Being a Brand Ambassador

The Value of You

By Ann Marie Stonecypher | Photography by Dan Doyle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “You are your brand.” How you dress is an absolute extension of that distinct brand. What are you projecting as your No. 1 Brand Ambassador — a mantle of self confidence or the air of “I don’t care”? Perception shapes reality, whether we like it or not.

I asked WISE Women’s Business Center director Joanne Lenweaver for her thoughts on this topic, and she agreed. Joanne said: “I believe dressing is design. Design is communication. You communicate a statement, whether you intend it or not. Choose to design your life!”

When you shop at Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor or any high-end establishment, you expect a certain appearance of both the store and its employees. The bar is set high. That high standard promotes an image of competence and integrity in their brand. Why not steal the concept? It works!

Dressing like a sharp business owner doesn’t mean being stuffy or losing your femininity. The versatile suit on AMS model Amy Freinberg-Trufas is a great example.

Amy opted for timeless gray, adding a bold pop of color and pattern with her lovely blouse. She’s still the star, but her clothing says she’s put together and confident. She puts thought into both what she does and how she presents herself.

Fashion Note: This gray pantsuit is the perfect wardrobe addition. You can wear it in the summer or winter by switching up the accessories. Opt for a turtleneck and boots in the colder months, or a lighter weight top when the weather gets warmer — just make sure it’s work appropriate.

This doesn’t mean you should dress like our model regardless of your occupation. A creative field — like interior design or hair styling — can be reflected in your choice of outfit.

Local designer Michelle DaRin is a perfect example. When you first meet Michelle, you can tell she’s an artistic person. From hair and makeup to whatever clothes and amazing self-created jewelry she’s wearing, everything about her screams “I am an artist!” She IS her brand and represents it to perfection.

Consider this: you bid on a job and bring your A game, but your competition does, too. Your client has to choose who they want to collaborate with and bring in front of their clients. You’re now being considered to represent someone else’s brand. These are the times when personal presentation can play an even more critical role. It’s no longer just about you.

There are many things you can’t control — your competition, the weather, unreturned phone calls and emails — but you can control how you are perceived as the single most powerful harbinger of your brand.

When creating a presentation, you take time to pick the right colors, borders and transitions — why? Because the little details matter. It certainly stands to reason that the details of your appearance deserve the same scrutiny as your PowerPoint, business cards, logo, collateral material and everything else you use to represent your brand. Don’t forget the most important asset you have is you.

Bottom line: As an entrepreneur, you are what you sell. So when selling YOU, the last thing you want to do is sell yourself short. SWM

Model Amy Freinberg-Trufas courtesy of AMS Models. Hair and makeup by Saadah Aminah.

Ann Marie Stonecypher is an award-winning business woman and the owner of AMS Models & Talent. She is also a stylist, inspirational speaker, two-time breast cancer survivor and freelance writer. She lives in the Syracuse area with her children Taylor and Steven, and her dog Cocoa. She welcomes your style questions and comments at [email protected].