Fashion: The Power of First Impressions

Published on 14th August 2007

Through an organization’s outlook, one is able to tell its character and clientele. While an outlook can be achieved through other means, fashion contributes to building a reputation. First impressions are important and a trendy outfit is one of the best ways to achieve this. No wonder, when company executives meet to strike business deals, they adorn in a manner that portrays them as serious business people.

In traditional Africa, dress played a major role.  Dressing codes during ceremonies were held in high esteem because of their significance then. When a young man was courting, a time came when he had to present himself to the lady’s parents and relatives for consideration. This was usually a trying moment. The young man had to convince the in-laws that he was indeed the best bet for the girl. The situation became more difficult  as he was not required to utter a word in defense. His outfit was crucial in pleading his case. The suitor had to dress in a manner that impressed, expressed his net worth and adhered to the community’s decorum. 

The case isn’t any different in the corporate scene today. With company relations and business deals being the order of the day, there is need for companies to relay their values and brand.  

Whereas style is an outstanding aspect of dressing, knowledge and understanding of colours and what they speak is the foundation to fashion excellence. It gives one organization’s outlook an edge above the rest. The characteristic neutral colours of black and grey should not make a pronounced feature in the wardrobes. I don’t despise these two colours but I would love to see a touch of flare in the boardrooms. A try on charcoal grey, silver grey, oak brown and golden brown suits and separates (coat and trouser or skirt purchased separately) is not far fetched. Such would blend well with shirts and blouse colours of sun gold, French blue, oak, light pink, lavender, lime, desert storm and harvest orange. Sky blue and orange do not have to feature, though they portray a sense of boldness. These, when well combined, would give the adventurous youthful managers a lift. Depending on the partnership arrangement, a company would be viewed as one that has foresight and daring to venture into untapped markets. This in a way is branding the company image through fashion. The employees would then not only come out as “brand evangelists” but also a company’s strategic asset. The larger the pool of brand evangelists a company has, the more competitive it becomes. So much so that before the balance sheet is submitted for consideration, the interested bidder is already more than impressed. 

This was recently pronounced in Kenya when South Africa’s giant Standard Bank was looking for a suitable Kenyan bank to partner with. Of course there was the balance sheet factor as a requirement. Only one bank qualified but it was not willing to partner. The search went on and settled for Kenya’s CFC bank, considering its impressive outlook and balance sheet.

Outlook ought to be taken into account in running any form of business. Apart from making the business premises presentable to possible clients, the employees’ dressing also needs to be conform to professional standards. Areas that people shouldn’t venture in include, wearing a combination of more than four contrasting colours and wearing oversize clothes. Reexamine your wardrobe before the next board meeting. First impressions could land you a business deal or make it slip away.

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