Arriving to the “IAmMyBrand’ trend, I presume that we arrive to a point of real discussion.
As some of you may know, I have a clear opinion regarding personal branding. This is that I’m against that concept:
Brands and branding was and is developed to objects: We can work on improving certain identity and build its image
We are subjects: We are what we are and that’s something difficult to change. We can only work on personal image
To work on subjects cannot follow a pre-defined process: If we all follow a process to improve our image, we will arrive to the same point that companies did when they applied reengineering… A new standard without a clear differentiation between one individual and the others
Instead that we are gregarious and want to be part of certain tribes, as persons, we are unique and that is part of our identity
However, as everybody is defining the personal image as personal branding, I’ll use those words 🙁
Trend #6: “IAmMyBrand’ Trend
‘IAmMyBrand’ trend is about building our own personal brands online.
As it was said on the Trendwatching 2010 report: “The online world has unlocked existing needs in entirely new ways. Humans’ deep need to be interesting to others, to be loved, admired, coveted, special, recognized, unique can now be satisfied by building attractive online profiles and presences, which, if successful, will attract friends, followers, if not a proper audience’
The relation with products and services that make us more interesting is based on what they do, say, who they connect to… and help us as a dress to improve our own image. This trend needs you to be:
An empathetic person
A person who knows and tell valuable things
A person who is able to envisage the future (next minute or next century)
A person who understand the new reciprocity business framework
Challenge #6: Brands are for objects, Image is for subjects
Due to our online presence, brands can pro-actively learn about people preferences. However, there is a huge challenge here and it hasn’t solved yet:
As individuals we have our own preferences
Those preferences are based on our own experiences
Experiences are lived with different brands… Each of us has a unique sort of brand salad (e.g.: we expect that the retail experience that we had in Barnes & Noble, instead that we are in Carrefour… we want that our new car has the same kind of apps that we have in our iPhone…)
Companies need to understand that the issue is not their competition, is the competitors that we have in our minds (and that would reflect in our online opinions about brand experiences)
Brands are like prÃªt-Ã -porter dresses for our image
Brands and individuals are now managing their images across multiple platforms in this real “off and online’ world, with different messages, different images, to different tribes… with the same identity.
During the last couple of weeks we have read whatever you want regarding the Tiger Woods -TW, Affair… A man who behaved as a depredator tiger, visiting an excesive number of woods 🙂
Instead that I do not believe in the “conditional perfect tense” (it’s an ontological issue) the question is:
What would with Exxon have been happened if they had used TW in their old advertising?
Could TW have been or will be a reference for certain brand extensions? (e.g.: Burberry’s)
What if TW had been the CEO of one of the sponsoring companies?
Are they serious about…
In certain way, all this affair looks bizarre…
Some sponsors are saying goodbye to TW… Questions:
Why Accenture’s partners did not say anything after some Arthur Andersen affairs?
Why Gillette doen’t talk about its “daddy” -P&G, dominant position in certain categories and markets?
AT&T?…. The list continue… Can anyone cast the first stone?
TW had a car accident… And due to this accident we all discovered that he has a good number of lovers… LOL! (up today, I did not understand the correlation)
TW’s wife behaved as a naif person who didn’t realize that his husband had several (not one!) lovers… And in Xmas thanked him because of his US$ 300m present… LOL again!… This is unbelievable in the US, Spain, Congo or China… For God sake!
It wouldn’t be strange that in few week we hear that TW is going to go to the same clinic that Michael Douglas went….
And the basics?
Possibly, the main issue here is that in certain point somebody forgot a simple branding rule (I don’t know if inmutable…. I don’t think so!)… Try to avoid the relation of your brand with a person… I remeber that we were discussing about this issue some months ago in an Executive Program at UTDT… Here is the answer!
In the case of Accenture, the situation is a good evidence to learn about this issue… They had a great advertising campaign, however, they generated the confusion using the same person (TW) during several years… Did Accenture dilute its identity on behalf of TW ones?
Advertising has the objective of producing incomes in the short term, while branding has the objective of generating longlasting value in the long term… Understand?
The vertical line should have and arrow at its bottom 🙂
BTW… Where were or how should corporate responsibility be understood in this case?
For a couple of weeks, I was in a rush and only updated my status in Webjam, continue with some conversations here and in LinkedIn, invite people in Facebook to read/re-post old things that I revisited and thought they are still relevant (at least for me)… So, I’m back!
During this period of time I was also thinking (at least for a couple of hours a day) and paying attention to social networks, communities… and specifically, I was looking at our interaction…
To give a framework to my thoughts let me present some figures:
So, I’ll talk about interactions between a good number of people (it’s not a direct sum…. some people belong to several networks at the same time)… Let say 4,500 approx. Fair?
We use to talk, and this began with Adam and Eve
It’s interesting to see two issues:
The quantity of people in Facebook and Twitter talking about Facebook and Twitter
The recognition as a new paradigm that we are talking
Adam and Eve talked… Actually they also mantained several dialogues with God, situation that could be considered as the first online virtual dialogue… They also talked with a snake…
The points are that neither them, nor us (in our offline life) use to talk about the tools that we use to be connected… At least in my case, when I use the phone I don’t establish dialogues about the terminal that we are using, or when we are drinking a beer with friends we don’t talk about our vocal cords… The other point is more complex and perhaps a psychiatrist and/or psycologist is able to explain it better… We were, are and probably will be gregarious; so, by default we are rational dialogical animals (we also smile… which is an unique characteristic of human beings).
Activity generates dialogue, sometimes deaf
As Alberto mentioned in WOW 2.0 and yesterday in the iBGC ’09 (Bilbao, Spain), activity is essencial in social networks to produce dialogues. I agree with this, however, in some cases (more than you can imagine) activity generates activity. Period.
LinkedIn group: Somebody begins a discussion. After few days you can see 10 comments, but most of them are not considering the other comments, or even worse, the comment is used as a way for self-promotion, to show how smart is the one who is writing that post… From a dialogue generation to a deaf dialogue
Facebook wall and Twitter: In a normal day… from 100 Twitts and or FB wall comments, four are related and could be considered as a sort of dialogue, 20 are RTs’, other 20 are emoticons… and the rest, God knows what the hell they are
Activity could generate dialogue if it mantains certain relevance. And if this dialogues are generated at corporate level, they should be carefully thought. Dont’ you think?
Brand experiences are built on dialogues… Alleluia!
For companies, dialogues help to build their brand experiences… Alleluia!…
This is not new. Actually, almost every experience is based on dialogues. The experience exist because we talk about it. Social networks allow us to tell more people, more easy and more quickly the sort of experiences that we are living.
But, before social networks, we also talk about our experiences… and now, for those companies that still do not have their own social network, people are talking about that experience…
Control is a pre-Methuselah historic illusion. To try to control dialogues is futile; we can only observe and give some intention.
Personal branding in a world where brand are something personal
A side effect of paying attention to social networks has been to see all the efforts to build, sell, promote… personal branding.
We wish to be different, unique, cool… Following an online process to improve our personal brand (I would say “personal brand” because it’s understandable, actually, we should say personal image) looks, at least, funny… If we all follow the same process we will become a sort of “Mini-me” of others.
You can build your image online promoting activities that generates good dialogues. And to do that, you have to be honest and show you as you are… and not as the manual suggests that you should be. No? (Canadian question)
‘Dialogus interruptus’ are unproductive
Yesterday in one of the valuable Twitts that I read, there was one from iBGC ’09 so interesting when one of the speakers defined Twitter… He said: “Twitter is a sort of dialogus interruptus”…. He was right!
‘Whatever interruptus’ is unproductive by default… Babies aren’t born, ideas don’t see the light, dialogues aren’t generated.
Experiences are based on dialogues, on fluid dialogues… And fluid means:
You talk, he/she talks
You talk and wait (I deleted several people who I began to follow because their comments were like SPAMs)
The dialogue evolves
You feel great because something interesting (and perhaps new) is co-created
The law of diminishing yields
The day has 24 hours and there is no plan to change it. Neither hours of 120′, nor days of 36 hours. Pregnancy takes 9 months (at least till now)…
We have certain time to read, to interact, to talk… certain time to work, to think… certain time to enjoy with our family, friends… Time is a scarce resource… As talent, knowledge, creativeness.
We have a real limitation to belong to an infinite number of social networks and seriously participate on them.
The message is simple: “Become relevant, create activity, generate dialogues, be passionate… and before all that, please, consider that on the other side of the cable there is another person”… That should be a great experience!
As it was written in the 2008 Trend Report, one of the main observed trend shows that there is almost no brand left out there that has not seen its carefully scripted messages torn apart, if not exposed for inconsistencies or broken promises.
During this week in an article talking about China, Contagious’ Xtreme Information also talked about the need of brands to walk the talk. They were stronger than other media showing, for example:
McDonald’s Happy Meals targeted at kids in the US and UK come with “˜better-for-you’ substitutes, such as milk and Apple Dippers ““ but not in China
Subway Sandwiches has launched a “˜Fresh Fit for Kids’ menu, with apple or raisins as a replacement for potato crisps in the US ““ but not in China
Starbucks is now offering low calorie drinks and better food options for kids in the West ““ but not in China
In India, Danone is establishing a centre to study diet-related disease following pressure from anti-obesity campaigners ““ there is no such centre planned for China
For example, consider YouTube… It’s uncensored, politically incorrect, invokes debate and propels people’s news within hours… A virus infection which is demonstrating that companies do not own and control all their assets, specifically, their brands.
So… In certain way, in this new fluid world, the brand experiences are built or destroyed by us. Companies can and must make their best efforts creating a compelling brand experience… and that takes years… If they do not walk the talk, we are able to destroy that experience in seconds… Years to build, seconds to destroy…
Things are changing so fast and in a fantastic new direction… We are everywhere!… Take care, we are watching you!
Considering brands as an experience and a concept that transmit identity, reputation and relationship between the company and its audiences, we face a reality where those elements will be more or less relevant according to the interests and needs of each public in particular:
If the audience consists of clients and customers, identity will be more relevant through image communication.
For shareholders, reputation will be more relevant when presenting the business value proposition as well as metrics of its performance.
When it comes to the company’s managers and employees the relationship between both audiences will prevail over identity and reputation.
In all cases, the brand is present. The change is the communicative relevance of the elements the company wants to convey.
During the last years, brands were created responding to an “industrial” reality which today seems to be far away, linear and, in some cases, limited.
Until not long ago, the company itself represented a system that kept a sometimes precautious relationship with its environment and which also admitted the existence of something farther and without a direct relationship with it: The Universe.
Today, company and system are two different things: Ikea is the company; the system involves vendors and customers.
The environment is an attractive part for the system, and therefore, it tries to attract it. Again, referring to Ikea, the environment is formed by potential customers, new designers or other companies whose offer is a complement to its own offer. The universe is represented by everything beyond the environment and which has no influence on the system and the company. However, due to the information available, both companies and universe are not unknown to each other.
Within the universe, attractive segments for the company also exist. They comply with the target of sharing values, possessing shared knowledge and going through similar experiences. They still need to be “properly introduced”, i.e. that communication is established.
Identity is shared by the system. The company’s brand begins to be associated to other brands in the system. As usual, all this involves many risks, but several opportunities as well.
The alumni of a Business School are a good example of this. People’s names and last names are a good representation of their identity. Adding a business school brand to yours conveys something else about that person. “John Smith” means something specific for those who know who he is. “John Smith, MBA from INSEAD” means something else for those knowing who he is and for those who do not as well. Neither better nor worse: just different.
From a professional point of view, a brand becomes a guarantee in its environment. Within alumni’s community it works as a reference of values and features of shared identity.
Besides, some business schools are asking their alumni to get involved in the admission process of new students. Are they employees of the institution? No, but they certainly they are part of the system.
The company, as far as the construction of its identity is concerned, is a multidimensional system. It appears as a business and as representative of its products and services, it is managed according to the desired behaviour of strategic variables, both internal and external to the company, under the latter’s control though, and comes into existence from functional and emotional elements which build its value proposition.
Within the company, a shared identity is practical and emotionally valued, differentiates the organisation and creates a sense of belonging. To external audiences it means credibility and becomes its emotional difference.
Companies, being more than their business model, seek not only for results but also for a deep share of feelings. More than making profits, their aim is generating emotions, being ethical and conveying a personality of their own. This is called attitude.
This model of company requires a strong identity to create a credible and relevant image to their different audiences. Its attitude transcends the people who create and manage the business.
A shared identity is practical, it makes the Organisation a different one, it helps to create a sense of belonging, it conveys credibility and it makes the emotional difference
Let’s see the results of co-writing in Webjam. The first instrumentalist is Cristian Saracco, editor of The Semantic Branding, where he shares his thoughts and trends about branding and business strategies. Cristian is also Director of Allegro 234 based in Madrid, Spain. The second instrumentalist is Julio Ferro, editor of Hey! It’s About Design and owner of Hey! Brand Design in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They’ve worked together and allowed them to ignite the spark between their two worlds in order to deliver differential solutions to both local and international renowned brands.
[C] I would like to humbly begin with a trend which in certain way has some kind of relation with Julios’s previous post: We are facing new ways of recognition and satisfaction, away from well-known trditional status symbols like luxury cars and expensive watches. The issue is to see who spend the most, who lives an unique experience, who has more presence online… And this excitement is not necessarily about traditional consumption patterns, but about status, about impression peers.
[J] The funny thing is that the word Design is closely associated to luxury goods as well. I mean, they sound like synonyms in the big cities around the world where you can see an incredible show off. A good example is Design Miami/Baselâ„¢. Design for zillionaires.
[C] There will be people who will pay â‚¬ 10 toâ‚¬ 350 for a bottle of water… They will show status to their peers because of the experience that they are living with a bottle spotted at the Emmys and MTV Awards. Bling H2O, a fashion accesory.
[J] Bling-Bling! And if you don’t have enough glitter, the alternative is to pimp your gadgets. You can give real gold to your iPhone or laptop that coast a fortune. Glitter is part of the environment of (posing) millonaires. Glam is back, but this time is real and worths too much money.
[C] It’s water!… It’s a 750 ml bottle embelished with Swaroski crystals… Functionally, we know what it is , emotionally, “a bottle that tells a lot about the person who is drinking from it”…. And behind the scene, another two big factor: It’s telling us a reality, it’s transparent, it’s telling us a story, “it’s not waht you have, it’s the experience you live”.
[J] Crystal clear. There’s a new sense and It’s a review over a traditional atribute of waters. I see coincidences between waters and parfumes. And several coincidences between the experience looking at their bottle designs. May I either drink Carolina Herrera or spray my face with Ty Nant? There’s also Kenzo water. Any ressemblance with Voss is “pure” coincidence.
[J] Going back to your comment about new ways of recognition I see really interesting the new design directions for such a basic product. Y Water has an amazing bottle designed by Yves Behar (One Laptop Per Child designer). It’s a “smart water” where form and content work really well IMHO.
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