Trump Your Self-Brand

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.

A Branding Situation

Social media has indisputably acted as the driving catalyst in the success of MTV’s reality show, “The Jersey Shore.” “The Jersey Shore” revolutionized reality television with its comical play on the New Jersey stereotype and it’s ability to capture promiscuous behavior and excessive partying on camera. The showed debuted at the end of 2009— right into the rush of Web 2.0. Television, the primary channel for the show, is most responsible for giving life to the program while social media is responsible for giving, what appears to be, the gift of immortality. In other words, social media provides a longer shelf life. For example, when the allotted 60 minutes are up, sites like Facebook and Twitter allow the entertainment to carry on in a more personalized setting.

To get a better grasp on the impact, here is a fun fact: according to an infographic on Mashable, on the night of season two’s premiere, the Jersey Shore topic was tweeted up to 16,000 times within one hour.

With a cast full of ridiculous personalities, it is hard not to watch. One particular cast member, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is the big brother of the group. Mike has easily branded himself with his signature chiseled abs and charming demeanor while his nickname “The Situation” consistently proves to be his biggest trademark. It began in season one as Mike constantly talked in third person and always cracked silly puns off his name. He was ignorantly unaware of the self-brand he was creating until the cast learned of the show’s success.

His Facebook page is a marketing nucleus. It reeks of poor promotions and contact information overload. His Twitter page isn’t much better. His default image is a head-on shot of his Adonis abs and the wallpaper background is a picture of his quirky smile and flashy jewelry. Surprise, surprise. Although you do have to hand it to the guy. Behind the thick layer of his “Situation” act, Mike is a smart man. He recognized early the conversations that were trending.  He joined these conversations and has now engaged his community of followers. He has labeled his following, “The Situation Nation,” a term constantly promoted on Twitter by a hash tag.

Whether Mike has recognized it or not, he has tapped into these communities through the idea of connectedness. According to a study called “The Appeal of Reality Television to Teen and Pre-Teen Audiences” in the Journal of Advertising Research, it was observed that young people who valued popularity and good looks felt more connected to shows like “The Jersey Shore.” These connected individuals were the ones most likely to move their interests to an online discussion on social networking sites. This discovery truly encompasses the role of communities and the idea of connectedness.

“The Situation” is making the most of his 15 minutes, but who can blame him? #SituationNation

What Do You And Coca-Cola Have In Common? A perspective on self-branding

MTV. Coca-Cola. Apple.

Sound familiar? Upon reading the words listed above, I can almost bet your mind automatically thinks of music and reality shows for MTV, red and white colored cans for Coca-Cola and lastly, the trademark apple logo for Apple. Of course, the list is not limited to what I’ve suggested. The idea is that in your mind, you thought of something when reading those names. These companies have left a lasting impression in your mind, and because of that, they are considered corporate brands.

Branding- what is it?

A corporate brand is a mental correlation created through consistent messaging and promotion of a company within the minds of all constituents. It is a conscious effort that results in the association of the intangible identity with the tangible name. For example, MTV has branded themselves as the channel for the young and wild by featuring promiscuous reality shows and airing provocative music videos. MTV has become much more than a product or a service; in a sense, it has become an attitude and a lifestyle.

Who can do it?

With the birth of Web 2.0, the act of branding has become easier and more accessible not only for corporations, but now for individuals. Tom Peters, a management professional, is linked to the original definition of personal branding. His idea simply replaces “the company” as the subject with the “individual” as the new focus. (Elmore). It may seem a little far-fetched or even a little bit intimidating especially when you compare yourself to well-known brands like Coca-Cola or Apple. I suggest avoid comparing altogether. Instead, use these big names as a point of reference.

With the growth of social media upon us, the tools to self-brand are at our fingertips. From social networking sites like Facebook, microblogs like Twitter to blogging sites like Blogger, the Internet offers all the necessary platforms to not only create your brand, but to enhance and promote it. This mature trend has already spread like wildfire through the broad spectrum of industries. I choose to blog on the entertainment industry. I will illustrate how famous figures in society are using the best (and sometimes the worst) social media practices to alter their own brands.