Part of personal branding includes outer representations of our brand, our communication style, presence, personal style and lifestyle. But can a city really influence your personal brand? And can we use the inspiration of a city like New York and its residents to shape our own brands, even if we live an ocean away? Here, Clinical Psychologist Dr Lisa Orban of Golden Notebook, a former New Yorker turned Londoner, looks at how to bring a little New York into your personal brand.
Polish your personal style
Personal style is a big part of personal branding, and something many New Yorkers take very seriously. In NYC, it’s all about the polish; that extra effort put into grooming which can include anything from weekly manicures to regular facials to teeth whitening. Spending money on hair, skin and teeth is not a luxury but part of day to day upkeep for both men and women. Grooming salons/membership clubs for men such as John Allan’s, which has its own billiards table, are becoming common places to get your beard trimmed and enjoy a glass of scotch. The UK is also starting to follow suit, with men’s luxury barbering salons such as the BarberBarber now available in a number of cities.
New York women generally adore their heels, which are often worn all day, not just for special occasions. The Power Woman is a common brand: heels, suit, designer bag hooked over the arm, with at least a Grande-sized Starbucks cup in hand. Even when headed to the gym, running errands or walking the dog, New Yorkers don’t tend to neglect their outer brands. Common are sightings of New Yorkers dashing about the city in a daily “casual uniform” of designer leggings and hoodie, super cool sneakers, sunglasses and a designer bag (again, typically hooked on the arm), with a protein shake or aluminium water bottle in hand…or a Starbuck’s.
Rather than copy your New York contemporary, however, think about how you can bring some polish to your own authentic personal style, in a way that still stays true to you.
See and be seen
The desire to be part of “the scene”, while getting your own brand seen, is quite normal for New Yorkers. That’s why it’s all about getting into the latest restaurant or swanky bar. New openings are closely followed in the press and by word of mouth, and everyone wants to be seen at the hottest place in town, whether that’s a restaurant, hotel bar or spa. Often tables and openings are scarce, and while getting in can be easier with the right contacts, a little research can also give you the low-down on London’s hotspots. Engage in social media; follow food bloggers or those known in the London social scene to discover the places they are excited about. Also, don’t forget to check out the Culture section of the local paper or the Time-Out to stay on top of the London scene.
Be a straight-shooter
Whilst The Devil Wears Prada or The Wolf of Wall Street might be extreme examples of New Yorkers at work, some things do ring true. In comparison to many cities, New York tends to be much more competitive and you’re expected to stand your ground and be assertive in everything from speaking up in the boardroom to making sure the barista knows you want soya not diary.
Incorporating this level of assertiveness and openness into your communication style may require some careful thought depending on one’s culture. While New Yorkers have more of a “straight shooter” attitude and say what they mean, Londoners tend to err on the side of politeness and this level of assertion may come across as too blunt. You may want to keep the London politeness, as it oils conversation and allows for people to fill in the gaps with their own interpretations while adding just a bit of New York into your communication style. Decide what degree of assertiveness and directness feels right for your own unique personal brand and work environment.
Tap into energy
New York never runs out of energy and its residents seem to have that same quality. It can work for or against you, however. On the plus side, if it’s channelled or managed well, you can be incredibly productive and enjoy a full day at work and a vibrant night out revelling in all that New York has to offer. If it isn’t, you will easily find yourself depleted and even exhausted.
One reason for New York’s energy could be its compactness: everything is focused in a small space compared to sprawling London and its rambling areas that are, in effect, a collection of villages and urban areas. If you are looking to tap into the energy of the city, try scheduling outings to the more energetic parts of London and immerse yourself in the action. For example, feed off of the crowds and buzzy shops on Oxford Street. Bask in the “bright lights, big city” feel of Piccadilly Circus. Or for something less intense, wander around the back streets of Shoreditch or have coffee at an outdoor café in Islington.
In New York, it’s fairly commonplace to engage in some form of self-improvement, whether it’s working with a coach or a therapist, creating personal or professional goals and building the confidence to achieve them. New York is, after all, possibly the birthplace of self-help culture. Think Woody Allen.
A huge step in the personal branding process is building self-awareness. As a first step, try to challenge any internalised stigma you may hold (and it may be buried deep!) about seeking selfor professional help. Take some time to assess the areas of yourself and your life that you’d like to improve, including any obstacles you may need to overcome in order to achieve your goals. Then identify resources available to you and be like a New Yorker… take action!
Bringing together her extensive training, experience and passion in both psychology and branding, Lisa Orban founded Golden Notebook. A chartered clinical psychologist, Lisa trained and practised in New York City for eleven years before relocating to London. Lisa helps clients make a name for themselves by discovering their distinct and authentic personal brand. She takes a unique approach to personal branding that combines psychological assessment and theory with branding strategies to create for powerful and enduring individual change and personal impact.