This is a two part entry on selecting 3 words, the first for your personal brand, the second for your year.

  1. Assess yourself (and your brand) in three words
  2. Three Words for your Year

Assess yourself (and your brand) in three words

Create a moodboard at Canva for your 3 styling words

I learnt of this technique in this post by Marisa Murgatroyd at Live your Message. The post concentrates the point around looking like the brand words you select for yourself, so provides a list of fashion and style words. But it works at a deeper level than that as a concept for me.

From the post –

Mary Kincaid, a thought leader on style and image and founder of the lifestyle blog Zuburbia.

Mary recommends developing a 3-word personal style statement to guide you in selecting clothes and accessories and making choices about your appearance.

Marisa’s post goes on to give two examples. Mary Kincaid’s three words are – classic, polished and edge, and Mary always dresses that way. Marisa’s example words she chose are – modern, creative and natural, but she has two styles – when she wants to take the style publicly (or on stage) she changes natural to bold.

Marisa likens this word choice of brand to what you feel best fits you in wearing clothing. So once she’d worked out her own three words, it was then understandable why she felt uncomfortable with some of her new wardrobe choices where the items of clothing only fit two out of three words. But then, to me, she muddied the concept by switching it up to meet situations.

For me, this concept feels deeper than just as a branding exercise, deeper than taking it out into how you choose clothing or brand your website or business. To me, it feels like a method to get to the very roots of your ideal self.

My three words? When I read Marisa Murgatroyd’s three, two of them immediately called to me, as I’ve always used them and always been them- natural and creative. But the third one took some time to process and feel around. I also realised that although I long ago grasped the natural in myself, it might not be something readily viewable in my own very casual and comfortable (baggy and old) clothing choices. And that was okay, because what writer who spends a lot of time alone at home wants to dress in hessian or crisps cottons all the time? And what does creative mean as a clothing choice? That’s quite a subjective opinion, and in this case, creative is in the eye of the beholder.

There are a lot of women I read in the creative sphere who choose to show their creativity even in their profile headshots. Several have gloriously coloured hair, in pink, purples and aquamarine shades. A few months ago I had my own long curly hair cut off into a pixie cut (it’s brilliant by the way, to not struggle with washing long curls) with the intention of going full on magenta purple. My hairdresser failed me however, and I’m left with red curls only, something I’ve sported through many periods of my life. I still want the glorious purple as I feel it embraces the creative part of me outwardly, something I feel a need for this year.

styleboard via URStyle

So my word choices morphed as I grew to assess and understand my own self a little more.  My three which speak to me currently (and are hopefully recognisable for those who know me externally) are –

  • artistic
  • thought-provoking
  • natural

Artistic is my new sense of creative, in a dress sense. Thought-provoking can migrate into thoughtful, mindful or imaginative, depending on the level I need at the time. It fits my own personality.

Natural embraces my own need for surrounding myself with natural breathable cottons, natural foods and products, embracing the wrinkles and impressions of time, and for my love of deep or bright natural colours, particularly the myriad of blues and greens of the Pacific Ocean.

What are your three words for brand you?

Three Words for your Year

The Three Word idea is similar to the One Word concept for your new year (I’ve been using One Word for years now) but choosing three words has taken off if reading a lot of new years goal setting posts from across the internet recently.

Both One Word and My Three Words are designed as replacement techniques instead of spending time on resolutions. The words are meant to focus you throughout the year. From there, you can create smart goals and define tasks to get the goals done, but these words sit overtop of how you will look at your year and events and goals you undertake within it.

#my3words wordart created by Troy Rutter @trutter

Author infopreneur Chris Brogan originated this idea, and has been selecting three words for each new year since 2006. In this 2018 post he explains the concept and his three words for last year. In this 2019 post he documents his latest selection for his “My 3 Words” ritual.

Your own three words can be shared using the hashtag #my3words


The My Three Words idea is simple. Choose 3 words (not 1, not 4) that will help guide your choices and actions day to day. Think of them as lighthouses. “Should I say yes to this project?” “Well, does this align with my three words?”

~ Chris Brogan

Reading back on Brogan’s past year words, he doesn’t choose expected words (like, say, productive or flow). In 2013 his words were Walt (as in Disney), Ender (as in the fiction) and Monchu.

From Chris Brogan comes the following tips –

  • Don’t make it a phrase. “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. “The” is wasted.
  • Try to make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
    The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words have to be your compass.
  • Stick with the 3 words all year. Every time I’ve changed one a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it. But I can report it.
    Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread. Use plain words, maybe.
  • BUT the words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.
  • REVIEW daily.

Other 3 Word Examples

  • Kylie Dunn has been selecting my three words for several years. Here’s her 2019 post. What I like about this is she creates a one page graphic cartoon of her words. This would make it much easier to keep them front of mind.
  • What3Words is some randomness which amuses me. This is a tech startup company which proposes replacing postcodes and addresses across the world with three randomly assigned words. The Independent explains it. Apparently it works in Mongolia.
  • Deanna Shoss at Intercultural Talk discusses her 3 words for 2019 here, also saying that she sees them as aspirational goalposts for character and growth. She repeats them every night at bedtime.

I didn’t select three words in this sense. I think those selected for myself as a brand guide suffice very well for three words for my year also.

Visualise it Up

Both of these three word techniques work better if you constantly keep your words front-and-center. Kylie Dunn, mentioned above, creates hers into a one-page cartoon. I like this idea, but if you’re not drawing-minded at the time, you can create a moodboard, brandboard or styleboard like I did for my three style words.

Moodboard Example

I used canva and all free images. Search for a moodboard under templates and go from there. Searching through for applicable images also helps solidify what your words mean to you. Once downloaded, use your image as a screensaver, or print out to use on your walls or refrigerator.

As a little shared secret, my example Canva moodboard above actually contains an image which speaks to my #oneword for the year. That will be devolved in the next post.

Styleboard Example

The styleboard you see in this post is my interpretation of my three style words again. This was done on URStyle, a website which allows you to create a board from png images, much like the old and now defunct Polyvore. Once I’d selected all my wardrobe and accessories, I simply screenshotted the board to save for myself. It’s pretty chaotic in design, but that’s my own style.