Masks and Brand Authenticity

Your brand is captured in your clothes, actions, and words.

Blazer: NY & Co.

Pants: JC Penney

Boots: Ross

Like the outfit? See more details here!


Forbes had an article during the holiday season about drinking at the office holiday party, and a quick mention at the end of the article about cleaning up your Facebook profile. The author mentions the concept of a Work Identity and a Party Identity, and discusses how much those two intermingle when you’re in a professional setting. This got me thinking about masks and brand authenticity, particularly as it relates to our personal brands.

We’re whole humans, with whole lives, not just corporate drones with a “professional” persona. During my Organizational Behavior class, we had to take surveys about stress, life satisfaction, and behavior, and nearly every student wanted to clarify if we were to take the assessment based on how we would act in a professional setting or a personal setting. I wear different clothes to work than I wear on the weekends, and I behave differently on weekends (waking up at 6:30 am on a Saturday? I don’t think so!). So, am I two-faced, or multi-faceted? Is my professional brand just a facade that I drop when I’m at home?

I think there’s a strong distinction between wearing different clothes and sleeping in on Saturday, and “character flaws” that could creep into my workday. Being a hard worker is one aspect of my professional brand that I think is highly important, and I feel like my behavior outside the office affects this brand perception inside the office. Would you believe that I’m really a hard worker if I lounged around in my PJs on the evenings and weekends, or would you assume that I’m just going through the daily grind for a paycheck? Many people view private actions as a reflection of your commitment to your public actions, and that if the two don’t match, eventually, the truth of your private actions will permeate your professional life. This brings me back to the holiday party mentioned earlier in this post. If you are a loud, rude, embarrassing drunk at the office party (which, in theory, is a perfect place to “mix” personal and professional), what’s the likelihood that you will eventually show such characteristics during the workday? Most of the time, these concerns aren’t necessarily about the actual behavior at the party, but rather about the lack of judgement in getting into a situation to behave inappropriately (ie: drinking too much). Going beyond acceptable boundaries in one area of your life indicates a possibility that you may do the same thing in another area of your life.

I think brand authenticity is about consistency and congruency. Do you regularly act in accordance with your professional brand by displaying characteristics like hard work, loyalty, and creativity? Would your friends, family, and co-workers say similar things about you at your core (literally everyone I know would describe me as energetic and a talker!)? Eventually, the masks come off, and it’s what’s beneath the mask that counts. Like the outfit? See more details here!

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