26 October 2006, page 16 (words: Elizabeth Hopkirk)
Firms send staff to learn how to dress to impress
SOME of London's top firms are hiring 100-an-hour image consultants to make sure their workers look and sound the part.
From chief executives to receptionists, staff learn how to dress smartly, add gravitas to their voice and improve their body language.
"If someone wants to run an international company and he wears a Swatch watch or a Mickey Mouse tie,it gives the wrong message," said Toshiko Kobatake of north London consultancy Talking Image, whose clients include KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and IBM.
"Often people have no idea and their friends won't tell them. It may be harsh but it's my job to help them close the gap between what they want to project and how people perceive them."
Lesley Everett of Walking Tall, another "personal branding" firm, said, "It is not just about looking professional, it's about projecting your personal brand values. You already have a personal brand, whether you've consciously developed it or not. It is a collection of the perceptions that others have about you."
Angela Baron of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development advised caution. She said: "Brand image is worth a lot of money to organisations. Training their staff in customer service is one way to protect it and recruiting people they think will fit their corporate image is another.
"But the new anti-ageist legislation means recruiting young go-getters could be discrimination. I can understand companies wanting staff to be aware of what the company stands for but you don't put people on some kind of training course for that - you do it instantly reflecting those values in how you treat those people."
But image consultant Sue Ruston, whose clients include Tesco and Procter & Gamble, said: "It's not about stamping and branding people in the same way you would a product.
"It's much more about helping them bring their personality through - and the personality of their company. Companies want the customer to understand what their values are and expect staff to represent those values.
"Your skills will get you so far but people make such snap decisions you haven't got long to impress them. To be taken seriously and put yourself ahead of the competition you need to project skills and values visually."
She said key mistakes made by workers included wearing badly fitting clothes, failing to project their voice in meetings and appearing bored at work.
For booking appointments or enquiries, please contact Toshiko:
Tel: +44 (0)20 3489 3319
Image Consultation Options
1) Luxury Course: Total Image Consultation (3 hours)
Details as above.
2) Compact Course: Image Consultation & Wardrobe Planning (3 hours)
This session is ideal if you have a reasonably small amount of clothes and would like to do both wardrobe planning and image consultation at your home. (Colour swatches, make up and written profiles are not included.)
3) 'Tea for Two' Image Consultation (6 hours)
This package is dedicated to the pair of you; whether you are a mother and daughter, a wife and husband, partners, siblings or just great friends. You can take the consultation together or individually, it's purely up to you. It's always so fun and relaxing to share an experience with someone you care about. The great news is that you can also take advantage of the special price offered for this package, just for the two of you.
4) Personal Branding Session (1 hour) / Face-to-Face or on
5) Colour Analysis Session (1.5 hours)
6) Colour Analysis Session for Men (1 hour)
This session does not include make up.
7) Style & Personal Branding Session (1.5 hours)
8) Image Review
Even if you have had an image consultation or wardrobe planning before, it is important that you review and update your image on a regular basis. To ensure that you maintain your current image, revamp it further or perhaps project a different look due to change of lifestyle or ideas, we will be at hand to achieve the look that you want.
9) 365 Plan
This plan is perfect for busy people like you who want to always look your best, but in reality, find that spending time for yourself comes last on your do list. This "All-Year-Round" plan ensures that you look and feel great, not just today or tomorrow, but any day, anytime, all year round in the most efficient and effective way.
The benefit of 365 Plan is that it takes you through an image consultation, wardrobe planning and seasonal personal shopping within a one-year period, allowing you flexibility to suit your schedule and is offered at a more attractive price. If you don't look after yourself, who will? We will guide you all the way.
- 365 Plan - Platinum (Luxury Course: Total Image Consultation + Wardrobe Planning + 2 x One-Day Personal Shopping)
- 365 Plan - Gold (Compact Course + 2 x One Day Personal Shopping)
- 365 Plan - Silver (Luxury Course: Total Image Consultation + Wardrobe Planning + 2 x Half-Day Personal Shopping)
- 365 Plan - Bronze (Compact Course + 2 x Half-Day Personal Shopping)