So you’ve created an awesome personal brand and have tons of people engaged in what you’re saying, but now you’ve woken up today realizing that your values have shifted a bit since you began your personal brand and you actually don’t recognize vital parts of your personal brand anymore. Now what?! I had the honor of presenting to a University of Miami class last month on personal branding and realized when I was writing my presentation just how much my own personal brand has evolved since I wrote my first blog post a few years ago. It’s shifted from a blog focusing primarily on social media tips, to a blog focusing on social media tips and personal life experiences, to a blog focusing on all of that AND Christianity. In essence, it has ‘grown up’ into a very mature four-year-old.
The fact of the matter is that we are not the same person from one year to the next. Life happens and our views are influenced, which forces us to grow as human beings. It’s counterintuitive to believe that we will always have the same branding around ourselves and always be the same person.
For me, the first moment I realized I had to rebrand was when I got a divorce. I had spent so much time weaving my husband and our marriage into my posts, and here I was without a husband nor a marriage. I made the decision to totally come clean and own it. This permanently changed the face of my blog, because suddenly I was being 100 percent honest instead of only sharing happy, staged photos. I became myself.
The second big moment my personal brand shifted was when I started studying preaching and became a youth pastor. I spent so much of my personal life speaking about my faith and living out my faith, yet there was not one shred of it anywhere on my blog or in my personal brand. It all of a sudden seemed crazy to me that I could list God first in my life, but not on my Twitter profile, or not in my writing. So, I decided to make ‘Christian’ the very first word on my Twitter profile and started relating my honest stories about my life to my faith and how much it’s helped me survive. I knew I would receive criticism (and praise), but I was willing to take that risk to be closer to who I really was in real life.
So, if you’re finding yourself in a spot where what you’re putting out on social media does not reflect who you are IRL try some of these tips to rebrand yourself without wrecking yourself:
Spend A Few Months Thinking About It
It’s kind of like a tattoo–spend a few months thinking about what has changed about your personal brand and make sure it is actually how you feel. If you still feel the same way in a few months, then you are ready to start exposing your audience to this new part of your personal brand. If not, then it’s a good thing you didn’t go charging out of the gates with something you would end up altering in the near future.
Take Baby Steps
Start mixing the new part of your personal self into your content mix. I started off by having every other blog be about Christianity when I made the shift, which allowed people who followed me only for social media to still find posts they were interested in, while also attracting a new audience interested in Christianity. When you slowly introduce new parts of yourself to your brand, those familiar with you are able to more easily digest them and new people are able to see where you are coming from through your past posts.
Write some posts explaining why there is going to be a shift in your personal brand. What influenced you to change? Was there something big that happened in your life? Did you meet someone that changed your perspective? Detailing where you are coming from with your decision to change will help your core, loyal followers to understand the change and (hopefully) embrace it.
If you are going to take the leap of faith to totally rebrand, then totally rebrand. Use this moment to think of everything you want to change and just go for it. When I teach personal branding, one of the most critical thoughts I enforce is owning who you are to the fullest. Don’t go half-assed into your personal brand, or you will have a half-assed personal brand.
People do not like change and will take every opportunity to let you know how much they do not appreciate you changing. Let their criticism go in one ear and out the other. It isn’t about them >> it’s about you remaining your true authentic self through your personal brand. I’ve seen way too many people get pigeonholed into their personal brand to the point that when I meet them in person they are someone entirely different. They have continued to put out the same blog posts, the same story, when, in fact, their story has changed >> multiple times. Personal branding is one of the most important moments in which you need to be YOU.
If you have a personal brand, you will have at least one moment, if not multiple, that you need to stop and rebrand yourself. We are not stagnant creatures that fit into the same perfect little box our entire lives. We evolve, we grow, and we owe it to our community to take them with us on the journey.
– Marji J. Sherman