Personal Branding: Consistency is Key

Close your eyes, clear your mind, and think about McDonalds. No, I’m not trying to make you hungry—but I bet I can tell you exactly what came to mind: Happy meals, French fries, or maybe the iconic golden arches. Now repeat the exercise, but this time the word to consider is Microsoft. What came to mind? This time it’s a lot harder—Windows may be the answer for many, but many others would point to Bing, Excel, Hotmail, X-Box gaming consoles… the list goes on. What’s the difference between McDonalds and Microsoft? Clearly both companies have been incredibly successful—but McDonalds has a much more powerful brand than Microsoft. Why? Simple—focus, and consistency.

McDonalds is a fast food joint, plain and simple. Microsoft makes operating systems. And search engines. And productivity software. And gaming consoles. See the difference? Microsoft doesn’t stand for anything in particular. Now, as a multi-billion dollar company, their lack of a focused brand won’t kill them. But for a small business or an individual, the difference between a focused brand and a diluted brand can literally be the difference between success and failure.

Let’s make this personal now—what is your brand? You’re THE go-to marketing consultant in your area? Then focus on repeating that message, hammering it home time and time again. Resist the temptation to branch out with your brand—for instance, adding and advertising management consulting services to your current services may seem like a good business decision, but what will the impact be on your brand? Suddenly your audience, who has come to know you as the marketing guru, is hit with a conflicting message. Who are you—the marketing guy, or the management guy? You simply can’t be seen as an expert in every subject—and if you try, you end up not being seen as an expert in ANY subject.

Here’s the bottom line: you can’t be everything to everyone. If you try, you’ll end up standing for nothing. So resist the temptation to branch out. Focus your branding efforts around the key components of your personal brand and keep hammering the message home.