My last blog article Personal branding & consistency: the great debate #1 certainly prompted a lot of comments – feel free to have a peek.
Essentially, I wrote how about I came across the idea that consistency is not something to strive within the context of branding as it’s predictable and boring. An idea that for me I found hard to swallow. It was one event of two last week that ruffled my feathers! The second disruption of the force came from Hung Lee @wise_man_say when I came across his blog article entitled 5 reasons why Gen Y hates personal branding. It’s a brilliant article that is well worth a read, so please do check it out. It raises some of the great issues of personal branding, and many that I felt compelled to comment on (read the comments section!). But it’s the consistency thread that I’ll pull out here…
“… the tension that exists between the twin tenets of Personal Branding – Authenticity and Consistency; it is essentially inauthentic to be consistent. Are you, my fellow humans, consistent? Almost certainly not. You have good days, bad days, every other kind of day in between; this is self evidently normal. However, the concept of Personal Branding doesn’t capture this dynamic; instead, it rails against it, preferring the static position of ‘always on’.”
But for me… [or at least my response to this was]
Consistency in brands is when the entity in question (person, service, product etc) behaves consistently according to their values. This still allows for massive inconsistencies in behaviour day to day. You’re unlikely one day to be tirelessly motivated by money, success and recognition, and the next day decide that lobbying for Greenpeace is actually more important to you in life.
If you’re not being consistent, it probably means one of 2 things: 1. you’re trying to be someone you’re not and you’re “borrowing” values, but can’t help defaulting to your true values. Or 2 you have a value conflict going on that is pulling you in different directions. But this pattern in itself will have consistency.”
Hung’s response to my comments were
“Brands Attached To Values, Allow For Inconsistencies In Day To Day Living. I agree that that Brands that have value embedded into them are more powerful than those that do not; however, I do not agree that this allows for the inconsistencies of authentic living. A brand is an abbreviation – a shortcut for people to understand who you are, in as short a time as possible. People do not have the time to process the ‘full you’ – hence why we create badges we call ‘Personal Brands’ so that overloaded consumers won’t have to have the hassle of dealing with you a human being. Any deviation from this and you are forcing your audience to do just that and, make no mistake, you will be penalized for it. Try it – tweet all day about something that really pissed you off (can’t think what..) and see what happens to your market. Something will.”
The problem we have here is a two opposing views that are unlikely to ever meet and so the debate could carry on indefinitely….
But before I move on, I just want to return to the idea of conflict between authenticity and consistency. I don’t see any conflict here. When you are true to yourself and behave in accordance with your values, you have integrity and when you have integrity, you are naturally authentic. People who are inconsistent in their behaviour are unlikely to be described as authentic, because they are clearly struggling to understand who they really are, and hence behave in such a way that reflects their true essence.
I decided to ask a few knowledgeable brand peeps how relevant or important they felt consistency was in the context of branding and this is what they said.
Will King, founder of @KingofShaves, says
“King of Shaves brand: “It is what it does, it does what it says”. Don’t just shave, King of Shaves #brandconsistency critical”
@BenAfia, Founder of Afia, an agency that helps brands to stick/engage through language
“Very important, but we need to let people’s (cust serv) personality come through too, Social media is changin things fast.”
@MalcolmLevene, Personal Branding Expert
“I put ‘reliability’ above ‘consistency.’ Reliability enables one to constantly raise the bar & change for the better.”
But it was @RachelElnaugh’s comment that really hit the nail on the head for me
“it’s about integrity – if you are true to yourself you can never be inconsistent!!!”
So, what do you think? Are consistency and authenticity happy bed fellows or never the twain shall meet?
If you want to read part 1 of this article go here: Personal Branding & consistency: the great debate # 1.
Thanks to Stockie for the image