Sucking The Personality Out Of Your Brand

Let me start by stipulating that I like change. You can’t live creatively and not wrap your arms around the concept.

But where is it written that when a brand is acquired, the first order of business is to suck the personality out of it?

Cheeky is replaced with cheerleader-speak. Loveably quirky is tossed in favor of stock images.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Daily Candy replaced original illustrations of modern, big-city women and their lives with stock images and product photos. The distinctly quirky personality that drew their 20-30-something urban readers in droves has disappeared, replaced by a cold, sterile site that screams “manufactured”.

ING Direct (the first web-only bank in the U.S. ) took irreverent communications to an art form. With wit and sparkle, their Day-Glo® orange missives seemed to come from real people (even though owned by a global giant). Once Capital One came on the scene, the marketing machine that is big banking edged out the quirk. The sizzle is gone.

The moral of those stories?

Personality—a genuine, authentic reflection of your brand—is REQUIRED to draw your people in and keep them bonded with you. It’s true for service and product marketing, and it’s most especially true for your personal brand.

So the next time you get the urge to tamp down your personality, resist. Don’t let non-essential critics or trolls dictate your voice or crimp your style

You are an original. Wear it with panache.

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  • Ouch! Used to love Daily Candy (but they fell off my radar months ago) — didn’t realize they had stripped themselves of all of their quirky cuteness! Great post about the power of being true to our brand personalities and remembering “If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it!”


  • Hilarious photo on this post Rochelle : ) And it is so true what you say. The people I love the most, are the people who are the most themselves!

  • Fantastic point, Rochelle!!! Personality really is what makes great brands today. The way messages are coming at us over a million different wavelengths, it is the individual, colorful, lifelike voice that cuts through the static and registers.

    You nailed it! Come to think of it, you rarely “miss”.

  • I sometimes talk of growth, moving to the next level, as the change needed when it takes place/ must occur. It may involve a great idea a friend suggests for a section of my website. It could involve just an evolution of how you describe your “practice” (what you do). It could also involve a focus on the skills you offer that people tend to want. There remain a number of ideas I want to introduce on my website, the next time I focus on it (I am undecided on whether to link to external products (laws I worked on for example) or create copies on my website.
    On another level, I remodeled my office; not quite a radical change but I recycled a lot of unneeded material; “re-assigned” a wall unit to my son who just installed it in his new place; I still re-think if I want to put some printers and certain supplies I keep out in storage (or storage for my “outside” office). The key change was new lighting and more of it, shades of my fave color on the walls and some built in storage. All of my clients rave about the new tile floor and the built in file cabinets. It just shows how much the work environment plays a nice role.

  • Jeff

    Hi Rochelle. We just finished reading your post about Sucking The Personality Out Of Your Brand and wanted to reach out. We would have done it earlier but the robots who run our marketing machine were busy watching reruns of Small Wonder – the greatest robot sitcom ever made. We’re kidding about the marketing robots but not about Small Wonder. I can assure you our brand is not something we take lightly. While some things have certainly changed since the acquisition by Capital One, like our name, colors and abundance of orange stress balls, our brand (and the real people behind it) is something we’ve worked hard to maintain. It was a key differentiator in making ING DIRECT stand out among our competitors and we have no plans to change that now that we’re Capital One 360.

    Thanks for the blog post, it’s always nice to hear first-hand how much our “wit and sparkle” is appreciated by our customers. Comparing our hard work to well-known fluorescent paint manufacturers doesn’t hurt either. Now if you’ll excuse us we need to throw in another episode of Small Wonder before the robots overheat.

    Thanks again; keep up the great work on the blog.

  • Hey Rochelle,

    Great article. I love your examples. I signed up with ING Direct about a month before getting the notice they would soon be Capital One. As a consumer, I know it’s a bit silly to want my bank to have some personality. It’s a bank. But you’re right. I’ve been disappointed that all the fun has been taken out of their website and communications.

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