Why You Should Update Your Personal Avatar Now

When should you update your personal avatar?

I asked you that question and got some good responses. Combined with some extra insight, here are the reasons why now might be a good time for an avatar update.

7 avatar cases

Avatar not achieving branding goals

Is your avatar following the 11 Rules for Best Personal Branding Results with Avatars? If your avatar isn’t getting the results you hoped for, this might be a good reason why.

Planned rebranding

If your brand as a whole isn’t achieving its goals, a change in direction is needed. Once that change is mapped out, update your avatar to correspond with the new branding.

Corporate or personal logo change

As commenter Erik Florida said, “I see your avatar as your personal brand’s logo. I would hesitate to change it with the same concerns a company would give to changing their logo.”

Conversely, if your avatar displays a corporate logo or your personal logo and the logo itself was updated, the avatar should be updated as well.

Portrait photo

Commenter yinka olaito suggested that “Except when your look has drastically changed so much that people may not recognize you at any event, I do not see a need for changes…”

If your avatar shows your portrait, you need to be physically recognizable from the avatar picture.

If your appearance changes enough that people no longer recognize you based on the avatar, you should update your avatar to show the new you. However, if the change in physical appearance is temporary – as it was in my case when our avatar update discussion took place – the duration of that change should determine whether an avatar update is needed. For example, the change in my physical appearance only lasted 30-odd days and I wasn’t in public much during that period so I didn’t bother with the avatar update.

Also, if you’ve decided to take on a trademark pose or accessory (e.g. hat), update your avatar in kind even if you physically look the same.

Portrait with identity bar

More and more corporate bloggers and social marketers are doing this on networks like Twitter. To make it easier for people to relate to the brand and to show that there’s a real person behind the messages, the avatar is a portrait overlaid with a logo or company name to show the connection. In consequence, the avatar should change as a result of a logo update, portrait changes or if your connection with that company ends.


If you’re using your avatar as a way to promote a contest, a new website, a book release, etc., make sure to change the avatar back once the launch has ended, especially if a date is mentioned.

Avatar as advertising space

THIS IS A VERY EFFECTIVE BRANDING TACTIC if your goal is to brand yourself as a spammer. Need I say it? Don’t do this.

General avatar changing guidelines

  • Don’t change only for the sake of change. Not everyone agrees with me on this one, like Dan who says “update your avatar to keep things fresh.”
  • If unsure, test your new avatar by sending it to some personal & professional friends before making the update.
  • Don’t be afraid to quickly change avatars again (back?) if the new avatar immediately generates negative feedback. Be ready for this when in doubt.
  • If you’re anticipating a major thrust into the public eye soon, be especially careful with the timing of your change to avoid creating false expectations.
  • And of course, make sure your avatar appears the same everywhere.