I think most of us accept – embrace even – branding, that branch of marketing concerned with differentiating goods and services in the market place. But how prepared are we to extend the logic of branding to actual human beings?
Writing a professional development workshop a couple of weeks ago on the subject of 'branding and online marketing for artists' got me thinking about this issue.
Mostly I was faced with my own discomfort. While I admire the inventive way that the mega famous engage with their own 'brand' (crossing over to a place where they talk about themselves in the third person – Hi Taylor! Sorry you had to kill Taylor – or creating a multitude of personas like Beyonce aka Fierce just to manage the internal stressors and/or respond creatively to dealing with their own image dominating global popular culture) what does any of this have to do with those of us more ordinary? I'm talking about regular creative peeps, those still doing their own shopping and most of their own chores.
But with my tween headed to 'VidCon' conference this weekend where teenagers will be signing up for sessions with the titles along the lines of 'Building Your Brand: Growing Your Audience' moderated by those in their early twenties I realise those reared in the age of social media consider this kind of thinking old hat, even obstructive.
What is the promise? What is the opportunity? Manage your online and social media presence well and you will get noticed. With a bit of patience and hunger you can monetize that attention. No study required.
Sure, it's designed to do your nut in. Capitalism as it intersects with online culture is a confusing landscape, to be sure. Community and competition are difficult to distinguish. Same goes for authenticity and a carefully crafted self presentation. Freedom and enslavement, ditto.
A digital detox is out of the question – social media is a garden that needs constant tending – but if things go pear shaped by all means get some fresh air. I find a podcast can get me over a hump. Just don't leave it too long, ok?