Monday, January 24, 2011

Human Branding - Pt 1

Social Networking.
This is nothing new. 

Correction.... in the span of the thousands of years the world has been in existence, it's brand new. But for those of us living in  the 21st Century (or the Google World as Leonoard Sweet would say), it's practically old news. If you don't know what I mean when I say "social networking" you have been living under a rock the last five or so years. 
The amount of internet social networks out there right now is kind of overwhelming actually. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, YouTube, Flickr, Four Square, Linkedin, Blogger, 20sb, I could go on forever. You can't go anywhere without someone advertising their Facebook or Twitter account. It's as if our world is run by the internet, and Mark Zuckerberg  is the king. Seriously . . . there's a freaking movie about him that makes him look like the biggest jerk in the universe but Facebook isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and People Magazine has declared him the person of the year. He is king of this universe in a sense. 

With the rising up of these social networking sites I've been noticing a trend in our language. It's called "Branding Yourself." While asking some of my friends their opinions on this matter one of them said that it made them think of cattle who were being branded by their owners. 

Branding ourselves. Let me explain what I mean by this. One blogger that I read tweeted once saying "You are a brand. Treat yourself as such. Ground your product, visualize your identity, network your life. Be open to growth." Later in a blog she wrote: "If you're alive and kicking, you're a small business." 

First of all, I want to clarify two things before I go on. One: I am not dissing this blogger. I think she's fantastic and you all should read her blog and get involved in her organization called "Love Bomb." Seriously, you won't regret it. Also, she is not the first person I have heard this phrase from. I've heard it a lot, she just happens to be the one who defines it the best in my opinion. Two: I am also not dissing social networking. If you know me at all, you know that I'm hopelessly addicted to Facebook, Twitter, and my Blog. 

Anywho. Back to "branding." I can't help but wonder . . . 

Are each of us really a small business?
Does branding = treating ourselves like cattle?
OK... just kidding about the cattle part. But it's an interesting image. Especially since in a way we do this to ourselves. Tattoos anyone?

But seriously.... are we a small business? And should we treat ourselves as such? Should we but putting "brands" on ourselves?

Let's look at the pro first. One friend I asked about this takes the idea as putting yourself out there for success: "I am in complete support of this- it makes you accessible, but you can still be professional and not have to spill your guts on every little thing. The internet is a fantastic tool to build casual relationships with other like-minded people. You are able to bounce ideas off of others, showcase your own professional talent, and find other things that may work for you."

When it comes to social networking  . . . you almost have to market yourself like a business if you want people to know you're out there. There are people I talk to ALL OF THE TIME and they still don't know that I have a blog. I've started to put my Twitter and my Blog on my email signatures and am considering putting them on my business card. (If I ever hand out my card that is.) If I do not do these things . . . no one will know that they are there and therefore they will have no point.

Another friend of mine makes his living off of social networking. Which I think is pretty sweet. He said: "It is a human characteristic to try and "brand" oneself. It happens from early in life on up. From preschool, to college, to later in life. We want to brand ourself as the "cool kid," "the class clown," "the funny guy," "the artsy one," "the jock." We all want to find our niche, and our culture encourages us to "embrace our individuality." Though in late middle school and high school, we all struggle to some extent to find out who we are, or what type of person we are meant to be, by the time we are young adults, for the most part we have found our niche, friends, and interests that make us who we are."

In a way we all "brand" ourselves and have been our entire lives.  Don't we all want people to know who we are . . . or at least what we want them to know or view us? We put on different faces for different people in the way we want to be viewed. Or what "brand" we want to be. In school it might be the class clown or the cool kid. Then when we get older it's more about what sort of worker you are, or how you want to opposite sex to see you. The blogger I mentioned before said how it's about knowing who you are, having that clear vision of yourself, and letting others see that. 

How awesome is that? I feel as though that's something we all are searching for. Knowing who we are and letting others see that. It's a fantastic goal, and I think it's one God wants for us. He wants us to know who we are because that's who he made us. So we should be confident enough to show off our "brand" to the whole world. 

Since this post has been long enough . . . we'll leave it as that for now. 

So what do you think? What is your brand? Do you have one? How do you think other people see you? Is it the way that you see yourself? Do you like how others see you, or how you see yourself? How do you use Social Networking to market your brand?


  1. For me, the idea of "branding myself" seems completely unattractive. When I was growing up, I never fit into those labels you mentioned, class clown, jock, etc. I don't feel the need to market myself and make myself known to as many people as possible. Branding myself just seems like another way to fit myself into a box. And you know how much I hate having to fit into a box of anyone else's definition. I suppose it's just not relevant to my lifestyle or career. Some people's career choice makes it a necessity for them to brand themselves, market themselves, make themselves appealing to as many people as possible. But it's not for me. In fact, I kind of hope that I never have to that.

  2. Rather than making myself a brand, I prefer to simply highlight my skills that are relative to the situation. Like Leah, I don't want to be put in a box, not until I leave this world for good at least. Knowing who you are and being able to clearly articulate that to others IS important, but does not mean you need to reduce yourself to a brand. To me it comes across too impersonally.

    To be fair, I completely understand the idea behind being a brand and looking at business that way. I just prefer to look at businesses as people instead of vice versa, because ultimately you deal with living, breathing human beings.

  3. I like your points and they are totally valid, so don't let anyone fool you into thinking that you are wrong.

    You know, I can see this going two ways: I, in a sense, branded myself...not on purpose, I think. For example, my blog name, it's my real name. No, it's not something I made up, but I purposely choice my name. And the reason for that is because that's what my blog is, Jen Kakio. I was being true to myself and my principles, but in the end, it looks like I branded myself. I don't see myself as a brand, but I can see how I fit into that category.


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