A business image requires visual cues that reflect the corporation or company’s character and standards. Most of these images occur via brands, corporate logos, or through marketing and advertising. A lot of company time, effort, and dollars go toward creating and promoting these powerful images. However, one of the most powerful and more cost-effective tools for creating images of excellence goes overlooked. That is the company employee. Those employees going to lunch or coffee during the day, working with clients directly, or even over the phone contribute in a powerful way to the company’s image of excellence.

While working with company representatives or executives I am often asked, “When do I stop representing the company and start representing myself”. This is usually asked in the context of after hours or during the out-of-office time. One participant once offered a humorous suggestion, “After the second drink you’re on your own.” To clarify, while on the company clock, whether in the office or out, employees need to realize they are representing themselves as well as those they work with and for. Thinking all one has to do is show up, do the job, and leave suggests a narrow view of job responsibilities and corporate culture.

Five quick ways to project the best image of one’s character but also influence an image of excellence for the company are:

Be well groomed. This means clean white teeth, hair that is clean, under control, and modern, and a body that is surrounded by pleasant, neutral, or non-offensive smells. This includes breath and body odor. Attend to hands, nails, and unwanted facial hair. Even ear hair should be given particular attention.
Be aware of the environment. Don’t use offensive language. Just because you may not find words or some popular terms offensive, others around you might. Profanity is not good business communication, no matter which gender uses it.
Make sure clothes fit and are appropriate for your business culture. Not all businesses require a suit, (although every person who takes him/herself seriously will have at least one). Have clothing altered to address weight fluctuations. Yes, have a sense of style. Yes, add colors that look good on you. Yes, pay attention to and respect dress codes. No, visible colorful bra straps, cleavage, or short skirts are not good marketing tools.
Make sure your words and actions are courteous, respectful, and considerate to all who cross your path. People talk and people listen to the conversations of others, which is a fact of life. Therefore, don’t criticize the boss inside the building and don’t criticize the company outside the building. One never knows who knows or is related to whom. Also, don’t let your thoughtless words or inconsiderate actions be the topic of another’s rumor or conversation.
Make sure to have business cards, a great handshake, and a positive disposition no matter how the day is going. If someone asks you’ll know you have done a good job of projecting yourself and the company in a positive light.
In summary, the better you look, the better the company looks. The longer the company is successful, the greater your chances of continuing to work there. Pay attention to your overall look and appearance. Be aware of your language, conversation, and actions, whether in the office or out. Believe that you are the company’s best resource for projecting an image of excellence.