Personality versus professionalism

Slices of lemon with one slice of pink lemon

I’m always banging on about personality. And frankly I’m not going to stop any time soon. It’s such a big part of your business brand – yet, so many people are terrified of showing any. There seems to be this idea that you can’t have a personality and be professional at the same time. You have to choose one or the other. Underlying it is a real fear that if you show too much personality, you’ll come across as unprofessional.

And that’s just not right.

Take accountants. One of my early web content projects was to rewrite the web content for an accountant. I’d say she was in her mid-thirties and when we met she was warm, funny and casually dressed – exactly how her clients would see her. But when I suggested I made the tone soft and a little bit sassy, she panicked. ‘But I need to come across as professional!’ she said.

I passed her the smelling salts and then I explained. There would be no question about her professionalism – her About page would highlight her qualifications and all her service pages would be written to show she knew her onions (well, numbers). Why, I asked her, would you want a website that gives the impression that you’re an older, male accountant in a suit. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with being an older, male accountant in a suit but why not differentiate yourself?

When we chatted, she came alive when she talked about how she loved answering clients’ questions and was always on the end of the phone. The fact that this accountant was young, female, down-to-earth and really approachable was part of her Unique Selling Proposition. And that totally needed to be reflected in the language and tone of her website.

Thankfully, I managed to convince her and she now has a website that mixes professionalism and personality – and is attracting exactly the kind of clients that she loves working with.

Need a personality makeover in your marketing comms? Let’s talk.