Why Haircut and Style Matter to Your Personal Brand

Let’s get off the topic of B2B marketing today to talk about hair color. Yes, I can already see our heterosexual male readers yawning and clicking off to something new, but they might stick around out of curiosity. Why? Hair cut and style makes all the difference in your personal branding efforts: how you perceive yourself and how you portray yourself to the world. I know this is true, because I’ve been just about every shade on my hairdresser’s potion-mixing palette and every length from curly hair down my back to stick-straight bob. I’ve used haircuts and styles to shape my own personal brand as I’ve shifted my focus on careers throughout my 20s. Each time I made a change, I noticed a difference in my attitude, my persona and my drive to succeed. Every color and cut was a representation of how I perceived myself at the time and an outward portrayal of how I wanted others to perceive me. I’ve played with hair and perceptions since high school, and it’s been a lot of fun to experiment with different do’s. (I’ll spare you the high school images of my “big hair” days!)

In a nutshell, I use haircut and style to subconsciously shape other’s first impressions of me before I even speak that first word. Hair is that powerful, especially for females, but it’s not often addressed in career advancement or personal branding communities.

Here’s the Mindi Zone guide to haircut lengths and styles based on my own experience and those of my colleagues. Tell me which ones you agree or disagree with, and which ones you’d add to this list.

Curly Hair - You don’t care if perms are in style or not, as you’re going to rock the curls anyway. A bit of a counterculturist at heart, and you show it through how curly or wavy your locks are.

Straight Hair - Tamed with great effort to give it a look of perfection. No wild and crazy hair for you, which means you take your work seriously and make painstaking efforts to keep your priorities and objectives aligned.

Crimped Hair - You make an extra effort to buck the trends and don’t care if your hair is big and takes up space. Makes a statement that you don’t follow cultural norms, but still like the attention that your hair brings.

Hair Up - You want to be taken seriously, especially if you have long hair. This is one way to make that ultra feminine look disappear and put on that ‘you better take me seriously’ attitude.

Hair Down - Depending on the length of your hair, it could be just your regular everyday style (for those with shorter hair) or it could be a sign that you actually took the time to do your hair (if it’s normally pulled back in a carefree style.)

Hair in a Ponytail - You don’t give a damn what people think, and you’re going to enjoy the extra 10-15 minutes you saved that morning by not fussing over your hair. You’ve got better things to do. Or, you are a buff fitness chick.

Long, Healthy Hair - Makes you look youthful, and gives others the impression that you want to be ultra feminine, even a bit more passive in the workplace.

Shoulder Length - Very typical hairstyle, especially for mid-career women. Doesn’t stand out and doesn’t make a statement.

Bob - For young women, this is a way to make yourself appear older and more confident. Makes you stand out from all your long-haired peers in the workplace. It’s a gutsy move, but it will transform you from the intern into the manager within no time. (One of my most successful career advancement tricks to date.) For women in the peak of their career, this is a powerful hairdo and is graceful, elegant, yet powerful.

Pixie Cut - This takes the bob one step further and demands respect from your male and female colleagues. I’ve never tried this one (because of my massive shoulders/traps), though I’ve been very close to giving it a go. I think many mid-career women look great in this cut while also commanding respect from their teams.

So, there you have my favorite ten haircuts and styles, along with how they impact those around you. In another off-topic episode, I’ll discuss hair colors as another method to define your personal brand.

What about you? Have you experimented with your own hair to find a cut and style that works best with your current career or business? I’d love to hear about your experience.