The Rise Of The Personal Brand And What It Means For Advertisers

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The days of spray and pray are over and in this opinion piece Susannah George, director at The Urban List discusses what it means for advertisers in this day and age.

Remember the early days of Facebook? It was arguably a much more earnest forum than it is now. People shared the ups and downs of their day often in real-time. Thoughts, feelings and frustrations were broadcast to the world #nofilter – long before that term became shorthand for effortless perfection.

Compare those memories to the Facebook of 2015 (and social media at large) and you’ll find a medium that’s defined its purpose and its discourse – sharing success, experiences and empowerment. We’re living in the age of the ‘personal brand’ and its forcing big companies to consider a very modern kind of merger.

If the personal brand operates in the lifestyle economy, then social media is the trading floor. Experiences and endorsements are exchanged, capital is built and happiness shared. The big question for commercial brands is how do they gain access to something so personal? How do commercial brands go about aligning with personal brands? The solution I believe lies with nimble publishers who trade in the currency of the modern consumer – lifestyle experiences and empowerment.

The hallmark of the personal brand is that building one forces people to reflect on what they value. The advertising world now faces individuals with extremely well-defined personal and consumer profiles. These values combine to form a deliberate and precious personal brand. While they may have always existed notionally, we now live in an age where personal brands are built and traded publically, much like a company’s, but on a much smaller scale.

In an age where ‘sharing’ is most definitely caring, advertisers are having to shrink the size and method of their consumer interactions. While conventional broadcast advertising will always have its place, targeting individuals with desirable lifestyle interests is the wave of the future, particularly online. Programmatic trading is obviously one side of this coin, I believe the other is high-quality advertising and editorial alignment.

Offering a cohesive brand ecosystem to the consumer is key – providing a forum where their personal and commercial brands can build affinity along shared values. This type of holistic lifestyle publishing platform is behind the success of numerous smaller websites currently enjoying good social traction.

But how does a big commercial brand compact itself down into an individual dialogue? That’s an expansive question, but I believe the best place to start is with a tried and true method. Ask the question, ‘If a brand were a person, who would it be?’ In answering this question, I’d argue big brands can find their own personal brand, by defining their values and interests in much the same way the modern consumer does. From there, it’s just a matter of sharing your stories with likeminded people, ‘offering your brand up for merger’ if you will.


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