Your Body Language + Your Brand

A “born to be wild” man confidently rumbling down the open road comes to mind when you think of Harley Davidson Motorcycles® and playful emotions appear with thoughts of the antic-filled body language of Disney’s Goofy®. Imagine Goofy rumbling down the road on a Hog…. Funny, but not the subconscious brand image either Harley® or Disney® is promoting.

Whether you are big business or a one-person shop, the subconscious messages of your brand are important to your success. Strategic use of body language is vital to what you want us to believe about you and your business. Comedians are the natural, easy-to-spot example of how your body language becomes a personal brand. Popular examples of this are Daniel Whitney, best known as Larry the Cable Guy, or Jim Carrey’s expressive face and elastic body movements. Mr. Carrey’s natural movements are not as expressive. The exaggerations are part of his brand image. Whether you choose to be as exaggerated as “Larry” or Mr. Carrey’s characters is not the point; we all use body language to express who we are and what we want the world to believe about us.

Strategically choose your body language to enhance your message and likeability. One of the first areas in developing your brand image is knowing the body language message you want to send that will enhance your “Know, Like and Trust Factor” (

Your body language plays a significant role for potential clients as they ask themselves, “Do I know, like and trust them enough to work with them?” and make that decision. Your image is critical not only for the client to decide whether you will work together, but also it is vital to whether the prospective client believes your answer to the question “How much do you charge?” Do you look and feel like a $10, $100 or $1000 service or product?

Three Body Language “Know-Nos” to the Know, Like and Trust Factor

Know that shallow and/or rapid breathing sends the message “I don’t have time (for you)”?

Breathing too high in the chest or too rapidly is a bad habit many professionals have adopted. It is often associated with a stress-filled lifestyle. High chest breathing makes others unconsciously assume you are in danger, are angry, and/or you are nervous. None of which say, “like me,” “trust me” or “hire me”.
Breathing high is contagious, causing everyone around you to go into a fight-or-flight mode. That’s not a good place to start a long-term business relationship. Retrain yourself to breathe naturally — low and slow, expanding the rib cage. You will appear more professional, at ease, and even more intelligent (if you breathe through your nose.)

Nothing makes you look less intelligent quicker than breathing with your mouth open. If you have allergies, you are susceptible to violating the breathe-with-mouth-closed rule. A bonus to breathing fully is a higher quality sound in your voice.

Know that the quality of your voice is as important as what you say.

If you use the wrong voice pattern, you risk sending the message “I’m desperate to have you like me (or fear me).” There are two business voice patterns — the connection and the credible. To understand these two patterns in action, think how different a flight captain (credible) sounds compared to a flight attendant (connection).

Learn to use both patterns. Use the connection voice pattern for relationship building and the credible voice pattern to be seen as an expert. For example, when discussing your accomplishments, use the credible voice to promote safety and when developing trust and rapport use the connection voice. When we exaggerate the credible voice pattern it sends the “Fear me” message or it can sound like a lecture. An extreme connection voice pattern pleads to be liked. The voice is shrill and jerky, a voice non-verbal that others often assume as desperation; however, most often is simply nervous and anxious.

Know that your word choice can send a message of “I’m smarter than you, and we both know it.”

Leave your million-dollar words at home. In reality, you should be listening more than you talk, but when you do talk, use language anyone can understand. Fancy words, especially when simple words will do, make you sound stuffy, not intelligent. Charismatic leaders use words that everyone can understand and only say what is necessary to build connection and establish credibility. If you talk too much, you are training others to tune you out. When you do speak, speak clearly and pause in silence to breathe (no filler “ums” and “ahs”) at the normal breaks in speech.

Bottom line, be strategic with your actions. Know what messages your body language is sending, as those messages are a direct reflection of your true personal brand. (

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