You are a brand. Or so we are told each day by companies, organisations, even employers as we try to find our way in a socially hyper-active society.
As we are socially present in a variety of profiles on the internet; Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more, we are encouraged to develop our own personal brand and market ourselves to the world.
Does branding begin at birth, when our parents first choose our names? Or is it when we first enter the working world to market ourselves to employers and step forward in our careers? Your brand is your identity, and becomes all-important when you choose a career path. Are you a leader? An ‘ideas person’?
As consumers engage with each other and companies more and more via social media, companies are beginning to do the same. Branding has become personal, with companies creating relationships with their clients and consumers. Presenting themselves as socially responsible, they are engaging with the world in a different way.
As we try to market ourselves to the world we are told to re-brand, reinvent, find something new. But this is creating unrealistic expectations. We expect companies now to act ethically as they promise to put a fair-trade logo on one of their millions of products, or assure us they are investing in the environment.
It makes me wonder if it is just an effort to appease expectations. Fast-food chains pour money into campaigns against obesity, yet still sell us sugary drinks. Major fashion labels hire a member of staff to research corporate social responsibility programmes, but no report is listened to and the company never changes its trading practises.
Is it all just a ruse? Putting a face on to face the world?
We do the same, editing photos on Facebook, selectively posting on Twitter, presenting ourselves in the best light to prospective employers on LinkedIn. I am not suggesting this is hypocritical activity, I am arguing for integrity, not only for multinationals, but for all of us. Branding is easy if we are the same person in each situation, modelling integrity throughout all aspects of life and work.
So, is it time for a re-brand?