I’m writing this from my happy place: the hairdressers.
In a couple of hours, I’m going to be a new woman: slicker, blonder and more like my old self (lockdown hair was almost at DEFCON 1).
And most importantly, I’ll look more like I do in the expensive new photos I had taken for my new website.
Because these small details matter more than we think.
I was speaking at an event a few years ago, when a delegate came up to me, quite agitated.
“You’re not what I expected,” she said.
“Oh dear,” I replied. “What were you hoping for?”
“Someone with longer hair. Like in your photo.”
Ah, I realised. I’d lopped a couple of inches off my hair since my publicity shots and it’d completely thrown this poor woman. She’d had a certain expectation and I’d not lived up to it.
It might sound an extreme reaction, but details make a difference.
Neuroscientists will tell you: there’s nothing we hate more than uncertainty. We always want to know what we’re going to get.
And certainty is so important when it comes to branding.
A strong brand – whether business or personal – gives our audience a flavour of what’s to come.
It makes them feel like they know us before they’ve even met us.
And so, when they do interact with us, we need to look exactly how they thought we’d look. We need to sound how they thought we’d sound. And act how they thought we’d act.
Strong brands reassure and build trust by being consistent.
Conversely, inconsistent brands cast doubt. They make clients and colleagues wonder ‘What else about them is unreliable?’
- if your profile photo is more than 3 years old, or you’ve made a major change to your appearance (in a good way) get a new one, pronto.
- if you’re bubbly and engaging in person, but your LinkedIn profile describes you as a ‘professional results-driven individual, committed to undertaking work to the highest standard’, then you need to loosen up your language and write like you speak (or you might just get written off)
- if your business has a vibrant, energetic culture but your ‘About’ page starts with the dullsville ‘Founded in 2001, we have 7 offices across Europe and 1200 employees…’, you need to inject your business’ personality into your description, fast
Remember: building trust with your audience is a lot like going to the hairdressers: no-one likes surprises.