Changing Themes

I am in love with the concept of personal branding.  However, there comes a time when your brand becomes so big that changing design, culture or pretty much anything else, becomes too much of a challenge.  This is a very critical time in the evolution of “you” as a brand.  This is one of the best times to actually make it a priority to revisit your brand’s theme.

My friend, Dave Manzer (@DaveManzer), is fond of saying, “Zig when others Zag.” In other words, when you feel like you’ve created momentum for yourself as a professional, that is a very critical time to ZIG!  But how can you make changes when you’ve worked so hard to get to where you are?

You see famous authors do it all the time. Well-known athletes, musicians, actors and even theme parks do it.  So why not you?  Think of some of your favorites right now, do any come to mind?  How do they treat their personal brand?  Are you thinking along the lines of creating an identity of yourself that precedes you or lingers after you’re gone?

Be careful you aren’t the one still dressing up as Pee-wee Herman twenty years after that identity hit its peak (Paul Reubens is 58 and still dressing up as Pee-wee Herman. Love ya Paul!). Sure, if you’re Ronald McDonald you can get away with doing the same shtick for decades.  Imagine if Madonna had done that.

A brand, especially a personal brand, has to evolve, just as we grow, year after year.  Let’s use the big brands as an example. Here are a few of my favorites:

Apple – Remember that rainbow stripped apple?  It’s hard to forget. It’s the symbol of rapid growth during the emerging home computing era (I say era, but it was hardly a decade?).  One day that all changed.

Now, we know Steve Jobs is a consummate brand professional, so why the change after working so hard to create easily one of the most recognizable brands in world history?

Let’s not forget that Jobs is without a doubt, a complete pro when it comes to personal branding. Check out Jobs through the years. I want to also point out that Apple did not change their brands logo at a time of high success. Jobs had very recently returned to the company to find it flailing and the redesign was an attempt to give the brand a cooler, more modern/successful look.

Starbucks – My personal favorite example for change is my old employer Starbucks.  As you can see, they have had a number of incarnations to their logo over the years. One thing to notice, if you have not already spotted it, is the name on the logo. The original logo said, “Coffee, tea and spice”.  As their mission evolved into becoming the world champion of coffee sales, the tea and spice part of the logo fell off.

Now that they have recreated themselves again, you can clearly see that the word “Coffee” has now been removed from the logo.   A smart move by a brand that is poised to take on just about any industry they put their sights on.

So how about you?  Ready for a redesign?  Is your personal brand open for evolution?  My opinion is that a personal brand should change every 12-18 months.  Go two years wearing the same clothes saying the same things, and people will notice there’s not much growth.

Have an opinion of your own?  Let’s hear it!  Leave your comments below.