THE BLOG

BRAND YOU: What Hollywood Taught Me About Building A Winning Personal Brand

09/05/2013 11:34 BST | Updated 08/07/2013 10:12 BST

We live in a visual world. A world where impressions are formed, judgments are made sometimes instantaneously and without any true knowledge. Is it right, no. Does it happen, yes.

Arriving in Hollywood, Los Angeles in 2005 with a strong career history behind me, a positive attitude and English accent, I thought I was well equipped to hit the ground running. It soon became apparent that brand Julia would have to adapt and enhance her gentile English ways if she was going to progress in Tinseltown.

There is no getting away from it. It's an image business in Hollywood. Visual effects rule and talent comes later. People take you as they see you, literally. Impressions are formed instantly based on look alone. When you are given a window of opportunity you had better make sure you are looking the part. Most of us aren't on the red carpet day to day however we do need to be aware of how we are coming across in a visual sense. I am not saying you need to book in for lipo, have a boob job, buy a new wardrobe or mortgage the house for a new smile; however, some care, attention, and thought to one's image is required in the movie called Life.

What do your clothes say about you? Colour and fabric choice, cut, all contribute to tell a story about who you are. We only have to think of poor Vivian, otherwise know as the wonderful Julia Roberts, in Pretty Woman and how those nasty shopkeepers treated her. Harsh but true. Most of us don't have Richard Gere's credit card or an endorsement deal with a major fashion label so we must make the most of what we have. This was exactly how I got through my first trip down red carpet lane in 2005 whilst attending an Oscar party in honour of director Terry George, whose film Hotel Rwanda had been nominated for three academy awards. The party was held at the infamous Italian eatery Ago, co-owned by Italian Chef Agostino Sciandri and the one and only Robert De Niro. Needless to say I was nervous but my £39.00 open back black dress with diamante embellishment (catalogue bought), classic high street pumps, larger than life costume Diamond earrings teamed with gleaming smile, stand tall posture and "I can do this" attitude was actually all I needed.

The above is one of many adventures in Tinseletown. My insights and learnings are vast, so for now, I'd like to share just a snapshot of what the image conscious, go getting City of Angeles taught me about creating a winning Personal Brand:

IT'S ALL ABOUT IMAGE

• Investing in your appearance takes time and energy. No body wakes up red carpet ready. It

takes planning, time and effort no matter who you are.

• Dress for the occasion. It's all about context.

• Wear clothes that suit your colouring, body shape and personality, not your friends.

• A good hairstyle, cut and colour can make or break a look. It does not matter how great your

dress, shoes or handbag are. If your hair isn't coiffed, forget it.

• Classic timeless cuts and good tailoring really can make you feel like a million dollars.

Antonio Berardi I applaud you the world over for giving me the opportunity to

experience this. A man who really knows how to empower the female form.

• Accessories, accessories, accessories. They can transform and elevate an outfit in seconds

and allow you to inject your own unique personality. Adorn yourself!

• Eyebrows really can transform the face. I felt like an enlightened being after my first trip to

the brow guru, Anastasia In Beverly Hills. That was 5 years ago. I'm still trying to grow them

now. Its part of the long-term strategic plan.

• Body language and posture speak volumes. Think red carpet: stand tall, shoulders back head

high, hips forward. Smile.

• Manners really do make the man or woman. Such small actions that can have a profound

impact and help you stand out from the crowd. This was not so evident in Los Angeles, a city

that would be hard pushed to win a nomination let alone an Oscar in the social etiquette

category.

• Punctuality and good time keeping is just basic business and social decorum. A late entrance

is not what you want to be known for.

• The old adage rings true. We are what we eat. Regardless of the glowing affects this can have

on the skin the simple truth is, without our health, nothing is possible. This does not mean a

diet of only egg whites and lentil beans. Everything in moderation.

• If you look good you feel good. This increases your self-esteem which also feeds your

confidence. You receive more compliments. If you feel good on a consistent basis, you

radiate this and attract positive people and situations. Bottle it!

ITS ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE AND POSITIVE ACTION

• Talent and results is not enough. YOU need to stand tall and be proud of who you are. You

must be your own agent, manager and publicist and show the world why you are great and

how you can add value. There is no room for shrinking violet or wallflower syndrome.

• It's very easy to just follow the masses. Don't be a clone or a Stepford wife. Be you and be

proud of who you are and how you are different.

• Accept that you will not be liked by everyone. If you are, time to change. A little polarity goes

a long way.

• Become your own champion and don't rely on others for that seal of approval or well done.

• Make an effort to remember and use peoples names. If an A lister can do it, so can you.

• Business cards. I have nothing more to say except get some.

• A sense of humour is worth its weight in gold. It also keeps you sane.

• Surround yourself with positive people who champion and speak the truth. Yes is a great

word but not the answer to everything.

• You must ask yourself the question. How do I react to setbacks and failure? You must

persevere.

• Believe in your dream no matter how far removed it is from your present moment in time.

Feed it daily even if just a thought or a visual in your mind.

• No one has all the answers and we all need help at some time. Buy a book, or seek advice

from a friend, mentor, strategist, or coach. Its just how they role in Hollywood.

I watched I learned and continue to do so but in the early days it was image, attitude and immediate positive action that stood out the most. Asides from the above, BRAND YOU will shine when you truly understand yourself, acknowledge your strengths, your values and passions, and when combined with the right attitude, desire, and belief will allow you to walk the red carpet of life on a daily basis.