Your Brand is Not About You
I'm going to be honest. You may agree with me, or you may choose to wave this off, as if it is meaningless. No matter how you feel, I think forces are strong enough to at least warrant consideration.
Back when I was working on Wall Street, we had a saying: "The Market will always tell you what it's thinking." Whether you believed that the bears would prevail and the market would head lower, or the bulls would turn things around and the market would post gains, the reality is that there was always an indication of what the market wanted to do, and how you should be positioning yourself and your clients.
Personal branding is no different. Though, based on some of my more recent headshot sessions, I can safely say that some folks have different ideas.
It's Not About You
Personal branding is the heart and soul of operating your business, or being noticed by a potential employer or audience. And, while you will invest your blood, sweat and tears into building that brand, you aren't doing it for self gratification. Your personal brand is not about you!
I know that sounds strange. After all, it is YOUR brand. But, honestly, no one cares whether you feel good about how you present yourself to the world. What matters most is how you are perceived.
You can invest a ton of money into a great logo, website, marketing material, and message. You can be confident that this is how you want to present yourself to the world, but if none of it (especially your message) resonates with your audience, is it still awesome?
Headshot Photography is the same way. As a professional headshot specialist, my goal is not only to have you love your images, but to think about your brand in a way that helps you to resonate with your desired audience.
In other words, I want you to love the work we collaborate to produce, I want you to love yourself, and I want your audience to be drawn in and feel a connection with you.
How Do You Make People Feel?
When crafting images, we need to consider how different people will feel about your expression, and how impactful the images will be. The goal, of course, is to get these people to feel a desire to build a relationship (or continue a relationship) with you. A powerful first impression is incredibly valuable, and we want to capitalize on that.
You are Only Human
Your opinion is equally important, but not the same. You need to love it, but you aren't the only person in the equation. You might look at an image of yourself and be hyper-critical of your smile lines, your hair, wrinkles, or your dimples. That's human stuff, and is the epitome of authenticity. However, do you think your audience notices these things? Do you think they care whether you have wrinkles?
We are always going to be our own worst critics. Thats just the fact. We will always spot something about ourselves that we hate or that we wish didn't exist. Yet, no one else sees this stuff, and they really don't even care about it. Viewers of your image(s) will only care about whether you present yourself as a confident, capable and approachable person. Think of this in terms of how you make the audience feel.
Feelings are important. People make all sorts of decisions based on emotional connection. If you presented yourself as professional, but miserable, it might be safe to assume that you aren't exactly instilling a feeling of positivity in your audience. It is highly doubtful that folks seek to surround themselves with negative people and negative energy. While these types of expressions are perfectly acceptable for actors showing range of expression, they are not ideal for an entrepreneur or corporate professional.
We tend to make some pretty big decisions based on what we see. Business is often conducted without the benefit of in-person contact. Your picture is as close as some of your clients or colleagues will get to putting a face to a name and bio. They are exercising emotional intelligence to determine if you are the person for the job.
See what I'm getting at? Your brand, your headshot, and your marketing material can't just be about you. If you are the only person you consider when building your brand, then you have already lost the game.
There is a HUGE difference between being the buyer and being the consumer. I can't stress this enough. Just because you have paid for the work, doesn't mean you are the one consuming it.
Websites, advertising, and other marketing materials are all designed based on consumer behavior. It makes perfect sense for you to weigh in on how you want to be represented. However, not considering the consumer would be an incredible disservice if not detrimental to your brand.