When we played the avatar game in the “Are Domain Names Over Rated” post, the consensus was our avatars are easily recognizable in blogosphere, and do become part of our online brand.

In the comment section, both Wendi of Life’s Little Inspirations and Jennifer of Down To Earth Girl had questions regarding avatars (also know as gravatars).

Wendi_Kelly.jpeg
Wendi, who uses her photograph, asked:

…But as time goes by, we all change and age…do I keep that picture forever? Just because it is my Brand now?

I can just see me at age 65 with that same picture out there…lol…

” MY Wendi, you are looking GOOD!”

Jennifer__Danifer_.jpeg

Jennifer (Danifer) who uses a graphic for her avatar, went on to add:

…To touch upon what Wendi Kelly said, do you think that if someone changed along the way, that it would throw people off? Or ruin their chances of being identified by those that knew them before? What would be the best way to let everyone know, “Hey, I have a new Avatar – check it out!”?

Having promised the girls we would discuss this further, I’m throwing it out to you.

Today’s Assignment

What do you think? Should we change our avatars as we change/age?

When we do, should be announce it?

Would changing an avatar reduce our online presence or affect our branding?

With this blog being about blogging and many of you asking questions in the comment section, I’ve decided to add this new series named “You Asked For It”. I’ll be taking random questions out of the comment section and throwing the questions out to you, the readers. By doing so, we can better help each other, and the blogger(s) asking the question will have more choices to choose from when determining what will best work for them.

I’m hoping this series becomes a great resource for you, the readers of BWAB.

.


P.S. If you do not have an avatar/gravatar yet, check out “How To Get and/or Add A Gravatar To Your Post Comments”and claim one for yourself. If you have any problems, please do not hesitate to ask.


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Look Who's Talking
  1. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    A friend of mine changed her avatar lately (on both her blog and Twitter). I like the new picture a lot because it showed a different side of her (the warm and motherly, contrasting the old scholarly and serious one). I think people can change their avatar every now and then to show the different sides of them. Of course, I’m talking about the ones that use their faces, because even though the avatar changed, the face doesn’t just change altogether. I’m not so sure about the people that use non-face graphics.

    Kelvin Kao´s last blog post..Cool Links to Check Out (11/17/2008 edition)

  2. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    well if your avatar is a picture of you, then sure, why not change it. mine is not a picture of me, but a character…i had been using the other one since the 1990’s and thought it was time for a change….a fresh start i guess. for people who “knew” the other one, my new avatar put a little curiosity into something old, me.

    it might reduce it or it might increase it, depends on how great the avatar is. if it’s eye catching or cute, then good job, if its not as good as what you had, then maybe not a good thing…if you’re gonna change something, hopefully it will be for the better and not the bland or uninteresting.

    Natural´s last blog post..Being Human In the Age of the Electronic Mob

  3. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I was actually wondering this! Because my hair has grown longer than in the photo, which was taken last (Australian) summer.

    But that little photo is on all my things, now – which was only because it was the only decent photo I had at the time – I didn’t know then that it’s considered a good idea to use the same photo for everything so people get to know it. What to do!

    Robin´s last blog post..An Unusual Experiment

  4. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t really need to see what a blogger looks like. That being said, sometimes it is nice to see a photo avatar. I don’t think anyone who chooses to use their photo should worry about changing it and losing their brand.

    Lots of companies have changed their logos over the ages. Pizza Hut updated their logo several years ago. They didn’t lose their brand.

    Plus I think readers should expect a blog to grow and change over time. So why not your avatar?

    Chase March´s last blog post..Life Gives Us What We Need

  5. What?! You mean I’m not going to look this good forever? The shock! The horror! The sheer depressiveness of it.

    Urban Panther´s last blog post..The struggle

  6. ru4realNo Gravatar says:

    I remember, years ago when I was growing up, that a local insurance agent in our small town put a large pic of himself on a billboard advertisement. That in itself wasn’t unusual, but he chose a photo from several years before (he was MUCH better looking then), and he became a laughing stock among the locals because we all KNEW how he had aged since that pic. The billboard photo had a negative effect. It made him appear to be dishonest, or at the very least arrogant and prideful … neither of which is good for business. So I think what we can learn from that experience, where avatars are concerned, is that faces are ok for branding, but the really should be kept currant … otherwise when people meet you in ‘real life’ they may feel that you are being dishonest about your ‘online life.’

  7. Whatever do you mean, our appearance changes? Why, I look exactly the same as my avatar. LOL It really is a picture of me, taken over 50 years ago. I’m not going to change it. If you need to see what I look like now, I’m not hard to find on LinkedIn.

    Barbara, I know you look just like your avatar, too. 🙂

    Betsy and Pete´s last blog post..CAREER RENEGADE

  8. Mark DykemanNo Gravatar says:

    This question is particularly interesting to me since I feel that I’m heavily dependent upon my avatar for recognition and branding purposes. To be honest, I don’t think I’d ever change the avatar, certainly not to match my features as I age (the avatar is basically a photoshopped picture of my own face with a few striking changes), because I don’t think there would be any value in doing that.

    There is a danger of getting stuck with this particular image, but right now that’s a risk that I’m prepared to take.

    Mark Dykeman´s last blog post..Pen and paper are a must for effective editing

  9. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I’ll change my avatar when I find a better picture of myself, even if it’s of an older me… and especially if it’s a smaller me. I won’t bother to announce it, though. No reason to, it’s still the same me. About the on-line presence or branding, I don’t think it will have a big effect for most of us. The top bloggers might have to consider such a thing, but most bloggers won’t need to be concerned unless they have a very unique avatar that they change significantly or completely.

    Mike Goad´s last blog post..Not the day I had planned

  10. I think that we should change our avatars as we age. I don’t think a year or two makes a difference, but five, ten, fifteen years is too much.

    I think that an older picture shows wisdom. I always want to follow someone who I think I can learn from.

    Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matters´s last blog post..No More Complaining at Work – A Thirty Day Challenge

  11. I LOVE photograph avatars the best and I think it’s great to see those avatars get updated as people grow and change. I’m the kind of tactile internet user who likes to see (and name) the face behind the words. It adds depth and integrity when a blogger is willing to show their face. That said, there is no guarantee that the face each blogger uses as their avatar is their own.

    I think the most important thing to remember when selecting or changing your avatar is that the picture you choose MUST be good quality. If you want to use a picture of yourself get one taken by a professional or at least use one that has a gentle smile, a nice background, and a natural pose.

    If you’ve used a logo, object, or creatures as your avatar then a complete change might confuse people for a long time. If you go from a Tiger to a Duck you’re going to get a lot of, “WHAT THE???” Why were you one moment a tiger and now a duck? What is the ‘message’ there.

    There might be no message at all but when we see someones avatar we’re trying to connect with the person behind it. It has meaning, and you should remember that when you choose the avatar you want to be represented by.

    Rebecca Laffar-Smith´s last blog post..Blog Review: SU Comments

  12. *Doh! Forgot to check “notify me”* Don’t mind me…

    Rebecca Laffar-Smith´s last blog post..Word-Of-Mouth Marketing: The Testimonial

  13. I change my avatar whenever a better photo is taken of me. So, it doesn’t get changed very often 😉

    Kim Woodbridge´s last blog post..5 New(ish) WordPress Themes

  14. NeilNo Gravatar says:

    Great topic. Avatar’s are interesting, they are part of our brand. As you’ve mentioned some readers associate us with our avatar’s as much as our names, or blog url. I use a picture of me from my wedding day, just over 2 years ago. As I age I’m sure I’ll update it with newer images.

    Neil´s last blog post..Make Saving Automatic

  15. People don’t change THAT quickly, do they? So it makes sense to replace your avatar every decade or so… I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. 🙂

    Vered – MomGrind´s last blog post..Oh No She Di’int!

  16. I think people should change their avatars as time goes by. If they have a great online prescense then people will recognise their names and or photos of themselves if they are that popular, and really, if anyone questions it, you can simply say: “I changed my avatar”

  17. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    I like the mystery of it all …. that’s why there is no pic of me! If you have aged since your last picture, then go ahead an update it. Be proud of who you are and the age you are at!

    Linda´s last blog post..America’s Power

  18. Linda AbbitNo Gravatar says:

    This post is perfect timing for me. This week I had a logo designed to add to my blog, and I was just wondering if I should change my gravatar to the new graphic icon instead of having my photo there. I’ll look forward to reading any thoughts on this you’d like to share BWAB’ers.

    My blog is a person-to-person topic, so it’s nice to see a person’s face when I comment; but with my intention of making it into a business, wouldn’t it be smarter to change the gravatar to the logo now? Or, maybe I can keep the gravatar as is here, but put the icon at places like Technorati, Twitter, etc. Is that possible?

    I’m definitely going to add the icon as the favicon (sp?) and will be looking in your archives, Barbara, for the instructions on how to do so! Thanks — know I’ve seen it there.

    If I am going to keep my photo, I’d definitely update it as I age. No worries there — I am who I am!

    btw, I just had to change my driver’s license photo — after nearly 15 years!! I don’t think women’s photos stay accurate for long b/c of all the hair style changes we go through! No one would have recognized me in the old license photo. 🙂

    Linda Abbit´s last blog post..Funny Fridays: Because It’s Better to Laugh than to Cry!

  19. Scott McIntyreNo Gravatar says:

    As yet, I don’t have an avatar- though I intend to get one very soon.

    I think whether an avatar should ‘change’ along with the blogger is a personal decision.

    I guess it all depends on whether the personal touch is part of the blogger’s online presence when they show their face.

    Avatars can be like the pictures of Dorien Gray in the attic- the blogger can grow old and yet their image can stay sealed in time in the blogosphere 😉

  20. JodithNo Gravatar says:

    Someday, when I actually have some money, I’m intending to have a professional logo made for Administrative Arts. When I do that, I’ll probably switch my gravatar to that logo.

    But for my more personal blog, I’ll probably keep a photo as my gravatar, but changing it every year or two to keep up with who I am. The one you see now is actually my second Gravatar, taken from my wedding picture from July. The one before that was about 3 years old.

    I don’t think there even needs to be an explanation of changed avatars. People do it all the time online, whether it’s a photo, a logo, or or custom clip art. People realize that avatars are an expression of yourself, and no one stays static over time.

    Actually, I kind of get a kick out of folks who update their avatars for the holidays and/or time of year. Keeps things fresh.

  21. Imagine my surprise when I started reading your post and realized you had quoted me! Thank you so much. And thank you for addressing our questions. It is interesting to see what everyone says.

    Happy Friday.

    Jennifer (Danifer)´s last blog post..Tips For Thawing A Turkey

  22. This really is a branding issue.

    First, if you’re going to keep a face shot picture of you as your Avatar, I agree with Vered. You don’t need to update it so often. Maybe every 15 years or so. So I wouldn’t sweat it much.

    However, as an entrepreneur and business owner, if you’re looking to brand a business you own, it’s typically not the best to brand yourself. It’s better rather to brand your company. At first you might say, “That’s not true; what about Donald Trump?”

    But does Donald really brand himself or is his brand, “Trump”?

    If Donald were to pass away tomorrow, he can’t be his brand. The brand would live on. What is that brand? “Trump”.

    Remember, in business, people don’t buy you, they buy “an easier life; how to start a business; content that makes them money”.

    It’s usually wise to try and keep the same brand image and not change it too often. Could you imagine Trump changing his brand? Find one and try to stick with it. It’s ok to change the design some, but only in some variation.

    So my answers to the two questions are this:
    – Re Wendi: don’t worry about changing to a new picture for a long time unless you switch to a graphic.
    – Re Jennifer: Blog about it and that’s it.

    John Hoff – eVentureBiz´s last blog post..Do You Have A SEO Question?

  23. JannieNo Gravatar says:

    “You Asked For It” great idea! Your creative mind never stops working, does it, Barbara?

    I think as we age we can keep our younger photo up there. Why not? We are still the same person at heart. Or, if you WILL be updating it, let your fans know well ahead of time, and count down to it on your blog so you don’t completely lose them when the switch-over happens.

    Another thought: Perhaps a new Avatar can actually help a blog whose author feels it needs a boost, as long as the content gets a boost too.

    Jannie´s last blog post..Doris to register nine

  24. CarlaNo Gravatar says:

    Thats an interesting question. I rarely take photos because I am camera shy despite having modeled and having many people tell me I’m photogenic. My latest photo/Avatar/Gravatar is only a couple months old (taken in the evening right after work) but I know eventually I will need to change it. 🙂

    Carla´s last blog post..Holiday Gift Ideas | Not Buying it

  25. TheAndySanNo Gravatar says:

    I think it all depends on how long you’ve had the avatar representing your online presence.

    If you’ve had it for years, then yes, I think you should make note of it. I wouldn’t make a whole post about it, but that’s just me.

    If you change your avatars frequently, then I wouldn’t even bother mentioning it, unless it’s something noteworthy like a vacation photo in Japan or something.

    TheAndySan´s last blog post..Questions From The Financial Philosopher

  26. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    My prim and proper photo was taken to fulfill certain official guidelines for making an international passport. I’m actually quite camera shy but have been thinking that I ought to take a picture of me looking less formal!!

    Yes, I think it would be strange if I am 65 and still having the same photo. Maybe by then, I’ll switch to a graphical avatar. Or maybe I’d just use a photo reflecting my real age as it can be cool to be an old granny blogger and internet marketer?!!

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..10 Signs Of A Fake Psychic

  27. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Kelvin – That is true how the picture that’s chosen can project the author differently; just like your friend.

    Hi Natural – I like your new avatar. Like you said though, if we change our avatar, hopefully it’s an improvement.

    Hi Robin – Yes, if we change our avatar on comments, we should be consistent and change it on social media sites, as well.

    Hi Chase – Good point. Large companies change their logos and it doesn’t seem to affect their branding power.

    Hi Panther – Of course you’ll always look like that. A little botox here, a little nip or tuck there….. 🙂

    Hi Ru4real – You story reminded me of when I was selling real estate. Many of the Realtors had photos that were 10 years old and when I would meet them, I would be like “Who are you?”

    Hi Betsy and Pete – That’s right! And in the morning my bangs stick out just like my avatar. 🙂

    Hi Mark – I like how you put that, “my own face with a few striking changes”. 🙂

    Hi Mike – I’ll be looking forward to the avatar of the “smaller” you.

    Hi Karl – You’re right. Older looking people often show not only wisdom, but credibility as they’ve “lived it”.

    Hi Rebecca – It’s great to see you here. It’s been awhile. One thing that did stand out in your comment was that there’s no guarantee the avatar is actually of the blogger. I like to believe it is, but I’m sure many do not use their own photo.

    Hi Kim – That’s just it. How often do we have our pictures taken? And…do we like them?

    Hi Neil – Yes, as we learned last week, our avatars are often the first way others identify us in blogosphere.

    Hi Vered – Some people change more than others, so I guess it all depends on that ad if they want to show how they’ve changed.

    Hi Caribbean Holidays – Yes, often it will just take a simple explanation.

    Hi Linda – That’s right. At times the mystery of no photo can be intriguing.

    Hi Linda – I noticed John Hoff addresses your concern in his comment, and I have to agree. If you’re to turn your blog into a business, use your logo. As soon as I have one, that’s what I will do as well. On your blog you can have your photo posted so your visitors will “see” you.

    You’re right. Women are constantly changing their hair colors and/or styles. It’s hard to keep up.

    Hi Scott – I’m curious to see what you pick for your avatar. I’m guessing we’ll see it soon.

    Hi Jodith – I didn’t know people change their avatars for the holidays, but that could actually be fun.

    Hi Jennifer – You’re welcome. I’m hoping you find lots of ideas and options for when you decide to change your avatar.

    Hi John – I agree when we’re trying to brand our blog and/or business, a logo says it all. Trump is a great example.

    Hi Jannie – Thank you. Unfortunately my mind does stop working at times, but when it “works” I try to take advantage of those moments. 🙂

    That’s a good idea to “improve” your avatar if you’re revamping and/or improving your blog.

    Hi Carla – How ironic that you’re camera shy and used to be a model.

    Hi AndySan – Welcome to the BWAB community. That’s true. If someone changes their avatar often, we become used to it and aren’t surprised.

    Hi Evelyn – I’m guessing a lot of bloggers will update their photos as they age. In fact, it would be fun to record all of the avatars we use and 10 or 20 years from now, do a post showing them all.

  28. MizFitNo Gravatar says:

    such a great question…and you now have me thinking that, should mizfit have staying power, Im SO gonna add in wrinkles as I age.

    really.

    MizFit´s last blog post..What the (bleep) do we know?!

  29. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    I currently use an avatar from several years ago. Peanut is nearing 4 and in the picture she’s only 18 months. I have short hair in the picture and now it is shoulder length. But, I like the picture and until I get one of myself I like better I’m going to stay with it.

    HOWEVER, I’ve recently thought about changing my Facebook photo. I want to find a good highschool picture and use it instead. I’m not ashamed of my age, but I’ve found some people on facebook I went to highschool with and am SHOCKED at how old they look. Holy cow, we’re only 40 for goodness sake. I’ve always looked younger for my age, but I’m not 18 anymore! I just thought it would be funny.

    I guess to me it doesn’t really matter. I like putting a face to a name, but a lot of people use pictures so you can’t do that anyway. What’s the difference if you use an old or outdated picture? As long as people recognize it as being you. If you get to photo changing happy, people may not be able to keep up.

    Debbie Yost´s last blog post..Our Family’s Introduction to Epilepsy

  30. Evelyn: That’s a passport photo?? It’s the best-looking passport photo I’ve ever seen :-). Usually they don’t make you smile, or anything.

    On avatars…

    I think it’s okay to change and update it. Just depends on what personality you want to convey. I’ve been through a lot in the last several months, though I probably won’t change for a while.

    As I get older and change, I will probably change my avatar. I notice in newspapers, I look at columnist photos with interest to see how they look like. If I met them in person, and their photo was 16 years old, that’ll be a shock to my system.

    But I guess if one wants to maintain that fountain-of-youth fantasy, it’s their prerogative :-).

    Jewel/Pink Ink´s last blog post..Dear Stephenie Meyer

  31. Linda AbbitNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    You read my mind! As I read John Hoff’s comment, I thought — is he purposely answering my question in depth? So thank you, John, and Barbara for your timely lesson. Gravatar/avatar will be changed.

    Linda Abbit´s last blog post..Funny Fridays: Because It’s Better to Laugh than to Cry!

  32. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – This is an interesting question. Like you, I have been wondering the same – with us both having cartoon avatars, will folk still recognise us when we begin using real ones?

    In some cases a change of picture does take getting used to. I know when Kelly from She Power changed her pic on StumbleUpon, I logged on scanned the pics and thought – “Where is that friendly looking Australian girl – has she been banned.”

    But once I got used to her new pic I still recognised her.

    The age thing is a funny question. Mmm – I wonder if I’d get away with using a really old pic – or would the 80’s clothes and hair style catch me out?

    Cath Lawson´s last blog post..Does Your Business Really Understand People?

  33. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    Wow once again something new to think about, but I believe my Avatar found me at age 50 and returned now when I had a new need – the ladybug is the symbol of woman recreating herself…I think I will always be that until I am dead ?

    Thank you for sharing these questions…and raising new concepts to address….I think younger folks will need to change their picture as they do those big radical life changes….? just a thought

    Patricia´s last blog post..Factoid Friday: House Gratitude in Focus

  34. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. I would have trouble remembering a person’s avatar if they were using a picture or a symbol and they changed it. I think it makes sense to change a photo every 10 years or so though. Although we change, we would wouldn’t change that much to be not recognizable

    Davina´s last blog post..Small Steps To Empower Your Attitude

  35. Liara CovertNo Gravatar says:

    Your soul has no identity that can be captured by a physical image. Identiy is felt, experienced. People change icons and self-reflections as they evolve within themselves. Some peopel evolve to the point where the nature of an image dissolves. It is no longer necessary. It is a human inclination to distinguish oneself from others. To feel interconnected means you sense life differently.

    Liara Covert´s last blog post..Why resist the inevitable?

  36. UrbanVoxNo Gravatar says:

    I kinda think mine is unchangeable…
    I mean there is nothing in the world that would identify with me more than the old cuppa coffee!!!
    hehehehehehehe
    🙂

    UrbanVox´s last blog post..let it snow, let it snow let it… hey… where did it go???

  37. Hi Barbara,
    I think every year or so is good unless you change dramatically or happen to obtain a REALLY good picture of yourself. I do remember people by their pictures and think it is good to keep it the same for a while if you are trying to brand yourself. When I launched my site at its new place I felt it was time to update my 1 1/2 year old picture and I think I will keep it for a while. Thanks for the good question. I have friends that seem to change their facebook and myspace pictures gravatars weekly but that seems like an awful lot of work!
    Gratefully,
    Jenny

    Jenny Mannion´s last blog post..The Reconnection – A Healing Modality Like No other

  38. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi MizFit – LOL – I’ll be watching for the wrinkles. 🙂

    Hi Debbie – I love the avatar of you and Peanut. It’s absolutely precious. I can’t believe Peanut is already four. I’m not familiar with Facebook, but I imagine it can be a real surprise when you find classmates.

    Hi Jewel – You’re right. Avatars can portray a personality, so it’s important to pick one that suits the way we want to project our image in blogosphere.

    Hi again Linda – Ah ha! You’ve changed your avatar. I’m assuming that is the logo for your blog. I like it.

    Hi Catherine – Haha! The 80’s clothing and hair would give it away. When I change mine it will be to a logo. Now I just have to figure out what I want the logo to be.

    Hi Patricia – Your ladybug avatar is easily recognizable. Whenever I see it, I know Pat was here (or “there”)

    Hi Davina – It does take a few times to see a new avatar to associate it with a blogger. Changing it too often, could be confusing.

    Hi Urban Vox – Cup of coffee? I thought yours was an eyeball. Oooops. 🙂

    Hi Jenny – You’re right. Changing avatars too often could be a lot of work, especially if you start changing them in all of the social media/networking sites, too.

  39. Surprise to see a giant Me at the beginning of this Post! Thanks Barbara for the link and for taking the time to post the question! I loved reading all of the thoughtful answers. My picture is only a few years old right now, although it was taken on a vacation so it has a nice relaxed, sunny look that doesn’t often represent my “Mom on the run” look that I have achieved from lack of sleep and too long of a To DO list…but, no one needs to look at THAT all day. I sure don’t want to!
    I think I agree with some of the others that say 10 years or at significant changes is enough. I had my wedding picture on facebook as an avatar for awhile, but it was one of me and my husband and the more public my facebook became, the less he wanted his picture on there so I went back to my other one. I also agree with what John said about not Branding yourself in most occasions. If I ever suspect I am about to get as popular as Donald Trump, I’ll remove my picture immediatly! SO far, I think I’m OK on that though! 🙂

    Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirations´s last blog post..How Clutter Blocks Success

  40. I thought an avatar was a representation of an online personna? Why have a picture of yourself when you can a dancing monkey 😛

    Womens News Journal´s last blog post..spa days from £10

  41. thinsmekNo Gravatar says:

    People who are quite well known in the blogging world can afford to change their avatars quite often.

    An example is Matt Mullenweg (WordPress), he changes the profile photo on his personal blog ma.tt as often as he changes his theme (it seems!).

    Also, if you are quite well known in a forum of any sort, you can change your avatar monthly if you wish, and no one will be annoyed or confused.

    Just as long as people can easily recognise you, it seems to be all right.

    I intend to change my gravatar as soon as I get a haircut! Someone said it looked like a mystery man/generic kind of graphic.