What happens when you need to change your personal brand?
Your personal brand is your unique combination of characteristics, accomplishments, and experiences that set you apart from everyone else. It’s how you want to be known to the world.
But what if you decide that your current brand isn’t working for you anymore? What if a career/priority/goal shift happens and you realize that you want to head a new direction? Is it possible to change a brand once it’s established, and if so, how do you actually go about doing it?
The good news is that changing up your brand isn’t only possible, it’s necessary! Notice how the title of this article is ‘what happens WHEN you need to change your personal brand’ not ‘what happens IF you need to change your personal brand’. As we continue to grow and develop both in a personal sense and with our careers, it is vital that our brands grow with us.
A great example of a product brand that has grown and evolved is Starbucks. Below, you’ll see the original Starbucks logo from 1971 and the current logo.
Not only has Starbucks changed their logo over the past 45 years, but their business concept has changed as well. Instead of simply selling whole coffee beans like they did in the beginning, Starbucks has grown to sell everything from coffee, to mugs, to music.
Over the course of time, Starbucks realized that they had to change their brand to stay relevant to their market, achieve new business goals, and stay competitive. Your personal brand is also like a business. You are constantly in the business of selling yourself and your talents. Over time, your goals will change, as will your priorities and values. You may find that the talents you’re currently marketing (I’m a kind, career oriented, go-getter) are not the same talents you want to be marketing 10 years from now (I’m a kind, family oriented, volunteer). The first step to changing your personal brand is understanding that it is OKAY to make that change.
Second, you need to do some thinking about what you want to change. Maybe you were a career man who, over the course of a decade, has gotten married and had children. You still love your career, but you want your personal brand to reflect that you are also a loving father. Small changes, like this, are easier to navigate. The aforementioned man may decide to set a goal to leave work at a reasonable time each day and might occasionally turn down after work drinks to spend time with his family. By understanding what change you wish to make in your brand (in this case, a shift from workaholic to family man), you can start taking active steps to start being perceived differently.
Some changes are easier to manage than others. Often times, big branding changes happen as a result of a significant career move or a radical belief transformation. Stepping down from a corporate career in New York City in order to become a yoga instructor in Hawaii is a drastic example of a career change that would affect your personal brand. Likewise, subscribing to a new belief system, whether it’s converting to a religion or choosing a eco-friendly lifestyle, will also result in a personal branding change.
There are two main ways to pull off a major change in your personal brand:
1 ) Ease into it. The person who leaves their corporate job in New York, may use their vacation time to get yoga certification while teaching classes in the city. Slowly, becoming a yogi becomes part of their brand and when they decide to leave the corporate world for Hawaii, it’s a bold move, but not shocking.
2) Do it quick. If easing into something isn’t your style, a more dramatic switch may be fitting. In this case, the person from the above example simply packs up their stuff one day, quits work, and heads to Hawaii. Everyone is shocked for about a month, but soon the old brand fades away and the new one is quickly adapted.
No matter how small or big the change, it’s important to think through the shift you want to make and how you will execute it, before you make any moves. While altering your brand is normal and expected, doing it too many times within a short time period will make you look confused, indecisive, and rash. Instead, be thoughtful about your change and then start taking action to improve your brand!