The #1 Killer Of Your Personal Brand

Picture the scene: you’re in the supermarket doing the weekly shop and you’re about to reach for a jar of a favourite brand you’ve been buying for years.

But as your eye catches sight of the label, you notice something: it’s changed. Not entirely, but something isn’t quite the same.

How do you feel?

Do you start to wonder if it’s not just the label that’s changed, but the product inside?

Do you worry (even subconsciously) that the taste you’ve been enjoying for years won’t taste the same?

It’s natural, because:

Consistency plays a huge part in our ability to trust something.
(And lack of consistency can kill that trust instantly.)

So when something changes, however subtly, your brain goes on high alert, ready to take defensive action if necessary and, at the very least, take a cautious approach.

That’s why you felt the way you did about the supermarket brand. And that’s why, if you chop and change your own packaging too much – how you look, sound or act – the same effect will be felt by those buying your personal brand. It can kill their trust.

Which isn’t to say you need to take consistency to the degree of Mark Zuckerberg, who chooses to wear the same outfit every day in order to free up space in his brain for more important decisions. But unless you’re Madonna, who’s made re-inventing herself a core part of her personal brand, having an element of your packaging that remains steadfast is a good idea. Or to put it another way:

Strong brands have strong trademarks.

On the product side, think of Nike’s Swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches. On the celebrity side think of Boy George’s hats or Elton John’s glasses. For me it’s red nails and matching lipstick.

Consistency doesn’t have to be boring though (Elton’s not wearing the same glasses he started out with in the 70s – there’s variety within the trademark). And it doesn’t have to be prohibitive either (your brand could become stagnant if nothing changes at all).

But if you are going to make a change, consider doing it one piece at a time, then letting the dust settle and the trust rebuild. (Like when Elton went from having a receding hairline to a full-on thatch…it took a while to get used to it.)

Reinvent yourself too often though – maybe you’ve had more hairstyles than hot dinners, or uploaded a new profile photo with every new selfie, or worn every item of clothing in your wardrobe in a riot of combinations, or adapted how you speak so that one minute it’s street slang and the next it’s a posh twang – and you could be guilty of bumping off your own brand.

How does consistency – or a lack of it – make you feel? Do you mistrust brands that change too often? Or do you feel that change can be a positive for a brand? Let me know with a comment below. Thanks!

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