What is your personal dating brand?
By Melanie Schilling, Psychologist and Dating Coach
Personal branding has become a popular area of focus in our careers and business life, but what about our dating life?
There is a fantastic opportunity here to learn from (some) celebrities and high profile business people, and apply this to the way we operate in our personal lives.
So what is a personal brand?
Your brand is made up of two components:
– The way you present yourself to the world
– The way others perceive you
You have control over the way you look, act, communicate and behave in your dating life, and these factors, in turn, influence how others will perceive you.
Whether we chose to or not, we are constantly communicating our brand to the world. When this is an unconscious thing, we can be unaware of the messages we are sending or the way others perceive us. This can be particularly disastrous on a date.
With a big dose of self-awareness and these two simple steps, you can become conscious about your brand and have more influence over the way others see you.
Step 1: Define your brand
Firstly, it’s important to become very clear about who you are. A simple way to define (and remember) the essence of your personal brand is to apply this three-word formula:
1) First word: your highest value. E.g. honesty
2) Second word: your lifestyle preference. E.g. adventurous
3) Third word: your personality style. E.g. outgoing
Let’s apply this to Lady Gaga. She may have a three-word brand that looks something like this: equality, busy, spontaneous. Michelle Bridges may be something like: health, active, assertive.
To apply this formula to yourself, use these questions as a guide:
– Value – what is the most important thing to you in the world? If this thing was missing, life would be meaningless. This is the thing that defines who you are and underpins everything you do in life.
– Lifestyle – how would you describe the way you like to live? Are you a home-body, a world traveler, a hard-worker?
– Personality – what type of personality do you have? Are you outgoing, shy, friendly, funny? Be sure to choose a word that reflects your strengths rather than weaknesses.
Step 2: Communicate your brand
Once you’re clear on the definition of your personal brand, there are three key ways to communicate this to the dating world:
1) Written – your online profiles and social media accounts are the perfect places to reflect your three-word brand. Find a way to weave your three words into your profile and notice what happens. You can also align your emails and instant messaging with your brand to ensure you are sending consistent messages.
2) Verbal – when speaking with dates on the phone and in person, remember who you are and the way you want to be perceived. It’s a good idea to think about a story from your life that demonstrates each of your three words. If you can tell each of these stories on a date, you’ll be confident that you have shown the best version of yourself.
3) Non-verbal – this one is a bit harder to manage as most of our non-verbal communication happens unconsciously. But, with a little practice and some feedback from a trusted friend, you can start to become more aware of the messages you are sending non-verbally. Research suggests that up to 90% of our messages are communicated non-verbally, so it’s really important to make sure your body language is consistent with your brand. For instance, if your highest value is honesty or openness, but you are demonstrating closed or defensive body language, you may be sending inconsistent messages.
It’s a good idea to practice communicating your three-word brand in ‘low stakes environments’ such as dinner with close friends or family. This way, it will be safe to make mistakes and hopefully, you’ll receive some honest feedback.
What if you make a branding blunder?
We’re all human and don’t always behave in consistent ways. It’s very common to make branding blunders or to do or say something that sends the wrong message. The good news is you can recover!
It’s not about the mistake you make, but how you manage the aftermath.
The best advice is to communicate in a direct and honest fashion, to own your mistake and to show some integrity and humility.
I’ll leave you with a fantastic example by Hollywood celebrity, Reece Witherspoon, after she was arrested for disorderly conduct back in 2013, which was inconsistent with her brand: Reece Witherspoon recovers from personal branding blunder.
About the author
Melanie Schilling is an Australian psychologist and dating coach known for her informative, yet fun and energetic approach. As eHarmony’s Relationship and Dating Expert, Melanie draws on her psychological expertise and extensive counselling experience to speak about all areas of the relationship and dating sphere.
Her expertise appears regularly on Australian TV programs, and she is a contributor to a range of online and print publications.
Having met her fiancé on eHarmony in 2011, Melanie has experienced the online dating journey first hand, and encourages her clients to go online as part of their dating strategy.
For more of Melanie’s great dating and relationship advice, check out these posts:
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