What is Your Brand?

Bear with me for this post – as it may seem a little bazaar at first in regards to the topics of social identity, reputation and social capital, but I promise you, it will all make sense very soon!  This week Alec and Katia tasked #eci831 with reading articles on the above topics, and while the topics are extremely valid and thought provoking, even providing “Oh, that’s how it is done” moments, I feel that the entire weeks readings are best understood by the following video:

I know you may be surprised with my choice to explain the constructs of social identity by using Morgan Spurlock.  But he does bring about some very good, relatable points in regards to this topic:

First – his talk, and film, is about branding.  I ask you this, aren’t we in some way branding ourselves when we create a digital identity?  Aren’t we creating a persona that we want the world to see?  Alec Brownstein did this when he took out bought Google AdWords for some of the people who had influenced himself the most.  This branding ended up landing him his dream job at Y & R, all for the low, low cost of $6.00!  Alec wasn’t afraid of “putting himself out there in an interesting way”.  Just like Spurlock is pitching to all of the companies he visited.

Second – we see Spurlock speaking to the team at Ban, when he asked the people on the team to describe Ban’s brand they wanted to put a positive spin on their produce.  Ban was described as “fresh” vs. the negative connotations that go along with underarm deodorant such as: wet and odour. If you visit the company website, their tagline is “Instant, All Day Freshness”.  Bonnie Steward’s blog “What Your New Year’s Facebook Posts Really Mean” reflects on her 2015 year in review put together by Facebook.  All in all, the year in review looked “nice” – most likely due to the coding that Facebook has run to post only the most “likes” personal posts throughout the year. Steward stated that we as humans are adaptable, and as cultures we are vulnerable.  Were you able to pick up on both Spurlock and the companies which were sponsoring his film capability to be adaptable for one another and the concept of the film?  Spurlock, himself was very vulnerable while pitching his idea to all companies.  But as a society, we are vulnerable – look at example Spurlock gave about San Paulo’s “Clean City Law“- no advertising on buildings?

San Paulo - no advertising

Sure, the city may be void of branding/advertising on buildings, but is it really?  I bet there is digital advertising and branding taking place at the very moment you are reading this post.

Third – Spurlock speaks about being transparent.  Anthony Perrotta is teaching his class to brand themselves using “professional looking Twitter, YouTube accounts and blogs”  The digital footprints that his students are creating are transparent to all who actively search, or stumble upon them online.  Resume’s are tools that have been used for at least 50 years, and while they do have a place in the toolbox, they are becoming outdated – soon to be replaced (outdated) with one’s own digital identity.  Social media gives our students a voice with which to be heard.  And while our students are still learning and growing, they need to remember that what they are putting online is transparent for all to see.  As teachers, we need to do as Perrotta is, and teach students how to create a positive transparency as their personal digital footprints are huge.  I really liked Kelly Holborn’s reflection on her digital transparency – watch below.

Spurlock noted in his TED talk that transparency scary, unpredictable, and risky all at the same time.  Kelly questions if our technological world has caused her to act a certain way online.  Has she managed her reputation a certain way because she was posting on social media?  The article, Reputation Management and Social Media echo’s Kelly’s concerns about her online profile.  The youth (ages 18-29) are more careful of their digital portfolio; they are more likely to take steps to limit amount of personal information available about them online, they change their privacy settings, they delete unwanted comments and remove their names from photos in which they have been tagged in.  Just as Suprlock stated, transparency is risky, which is why the monitoring of ones own digital footprint has become common.   Pernille Tranberg speaks about how she chooses to control her digital identity and why it is so important for her to do so.

As Spurlock stated at the end of his talk, and as I teach to my students, we need to encourage people to take risks and be transparent, but in a way that allows our students to maintain a positive digital identity.  I learned from Spurlock that my brand identity is that of a down attribute (contemplative, empathetic, wise, reliable), with a few up attributes (adventurous, inspiring) thrown in for good measure, what type of attribute do your brand personality represent and is your identity, reputation and social capital reflective of the person who you are off line?

2 thoughts on “What is Your Brand?”

  1. Thank you Carla for this interesting post, especially the Morgan Spurlock TedTalk! I love it! I believe transparency is tremendously important. You’re right, that is really the question; are we being our genuine, true selves? Hopefully our digital identity and our in-person identity are basically the same. Being yourself (your best self) and putting yourself out there do involve risk. We need to be strong enough to take those risks as there will always be critics and we will never be perfect.


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