Branding doesn’t necessarily have to relate only to corporate identities, meaning it can apply to personal identities as well. Each of us are a part of our connected, digital age, partaking in different forms of social media, creating an online presence documenting what we want others to see – essentially curating our own personal branding. This is an important aspect in our digital age, to the point where celebrities have a publicity team who help them to collate their online presence in order to further their personal brand. This can also mean that the online personal brand does not necessarily match up to the reality of the person, as you are presenting, a part of, or an idea of you in order to further the presence. This is because we focus on strengths rather than a full picture which includes flaws, in order to sell ourselves (Labrecque, Markos, & Milne 2011). This can build upon the idea from the wk4 lecture, where online culture becomes separate to our physical identity, and although this can be utilised for “the purpose of trolling, doxxing, and fraud” (Moore 2016), it can also mean that we can utilise it to further personal branding. Perhaps the crossover we currently experience through our digital/physical lives means that we need to be more authentic, brand and consumer alike, or risk being called out and/or held accountable for false representation.
The internet as a disembodied medium also means that fake identities can be constructed without much effort. Whether it be to pretend to assume someone else’s brand/identity, or to avoid the worries of online surveillance, or for more sinister ideas, a false brand can be just as powerful as one which bears more reality. Impersonating celebrities or popular brands seems to be a popular thing to do, and perhaps it is because of this, the need for the ‘verified’ symbol on twitter and other social networks was born. Although we have a lot of control over how we present ourselves online, it also opens up easy avenues for our identities to be impersonated.
However a fake account can also be used to create alternate personas, alter egos, or fake identities for use online. I personally remember when I was first partaking in activities on the internet, the strong emphasis on ensuring anonymity. The ability to share personal information was everywhere, and as such, we were told to be cautious. It is for this reason that my past self told friends on internet games that my name was actually Kate. It was the first step at hiding my identity. I still have close online friends, whom I have known for years, whose names I don’t know; I may know a lot about them in terms of personality, and passions, but they have made an effort to conceal their identity enough so that they are not easily found.
“The expansive opportunities of the internet for expressing identity were celebrated because the virtual world of cyberculture means the body is no longer the central means for locating identity, gender and race” (Moore 2016).
Labrecque, L, Markos, E, & Milne, G 2011, ‘Online Personal Branding: Processes, Challenges, and Implications’, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol.25, no.1 pp.37-50
Moore, C 2016, Week Four – Experiencing Cyberculture, Cybercultures Blog, viewed 30 March 2016, <https://cyberculturesblog.wordpress.com/week-four-experiencing-cyberculture/>