With power comes responsibility. Since the birth of Web 2.0, there has been a noticeable shift in the power of control. The tables have turned on the corporate world as consumers, through the venues of social media, are now the ones forming the message. It is a scary thought for many managers as the only way to cope with it is to embrace it. As Web 2.0 continues to grow, the emphasis on consumer control and influence is becoming stronger. No longer is the company the sole proprietor of the brand. The audience is. The same can be said of the self-brand.
According to the article “Be Who You Want To Be,” strong identities with loud voices are forming all over the web through social media platforms like blogs and social networks. Social network, Facebook, is a key variable in the creation of what the article calls “social identity.” Social identity can be defined as the life one lives online. Through the given categories, a person is able to define him or herself, and through online interaction, a person is able to distinguish himself or herself. Social identity functions much like a brand. In a sense, it is your brand. The only difference between social identity and the self-brand is the accounting for the perception of the audience. The self-brand as addressed in the article, “The Power of a Self Brand,” includes the perception of value as seen by an audience whereas social identity lies strictly in the hands of the individual.
Social identity, while in the hands of the individual, can be abused. It can serve as an online mask to the entire world. This can be particularly discrediting to any attempts of establishing and maintaining a self-brand. Consistency at all points of contact is vital for credibility and accountability. Some may see the maintenance of establishing a self-brand as unnecessary, but with the power of Web 2.0, you run the risk of allowing someone else to brand you. (Kaputa). The same can be applied to the corporate world.
The 2007 article, “Creating Brand You,” is wise beyond its years. It addresses the issue of the self-brand’s vulnerability before what most might consider the peak of social media. It claims we must take control of our own brands before our audience does. The article is more inspiring than it’s featured commentator, Donald Trump, who bluntly states that most people are incapable of branding themselves.
While we may not be able to compare ourselves to “The Donald,” we can most certainly use him as a point of reference. As a world-renowned businessman, television star and philanthropist, Donald Trump has leveraged his experience and connections to expand his brand into the real-estate industry, entertainment industry and hospitality industry. While much of his self-branding is a conscious effort, his success speaks for itself. Much of his image comes from the perceptions of his audience. For example, his audience has contributed to his brand with the repeat of his signature line, “You’re fired,” from the television show, The Apprentice. This is a prime example of what makes a successful self-brand.
By manipulating his identity and by empowering his audience, Donald Trump has successfully branded himself into an American icon.