mPulse

Friday, October 3, 2008

(Personal) Branding is Closed-Source

Last night I asked myself what would happen if blogs and social-media sites were no longer allowed to have advertising on them. What would be the revenue model for them? How would they generate income?

I fell back to the position that these sites were not originally created to be driven by advertising, but to develop "personal brands", a topic that has been discussed by Chris Brogan [here and here] and others.

Then I realized something else: The idea of a personal brand, and the concepts of community and conversation, are mutually exclusive.

How can a brand interact with a community? How can a brand participate in a conversation?

People do these things. And while brands are important to people when thinking about companies, when dealing with with people, there is a far more important factor that gives a person's opinion weight in a conversation: Reputation.

In a conversation and in a community, how you are perceived, regarded, and trusted is critical to allowing what you say to matter. If you have no reputation, your opinion may be politely listened to, and promptly ignored.

It comes to this: Branding and Brands, be they corporate or personal, are closed-source. By their nature a brand is something that is directed and defined by the brand-ee, not the community.

Reputation is the opposite of that. Reputation is what a brand gets from the community, from the conversation had outside the branded entity.

What does this mean?

Branding is closed-source. Reputation is open-source.

10 comments:

  1. What a great post! As a marketer I am increasingly uncomfortable with the use of the term "branding" to mean anything and everything that a company (or people) do in public.While ultimately for a company, "brand" is measured externally - i.e. by what people think the brand is, I agree that it's a bit silly to think about a brand participating in a conversation.I'm much more comfortable using the term reputation when it comes to people.

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  2. Exactly. I mean, I don't see myself talking to "april dunford" â„¢ when we are having an active and engaged conversation. I am talking to a person, whose reputation I know and trust, or whose reputation grows through the act of having the conversation.I wanted to stir the pot a little because personal branding is not what social media is about.

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  3. Good thought provoking post. A lot of people confuse personal branding with reputation management, when that is only one piece of the puzzle. In order to take your posts seriously, it helps to have the credentials to back you up.

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  4. Ten years ago, I started blogging (then called journaling) to share my short stories. Then a few years after that, I started writing about fitness and nutrition (when I lost 65 pounds and ran a marathon). A year or so later, I wrote about self-improvement, and then productivity. Last few years, I've written about how the Internet impacts communication and relationships. Who knows what I'll cover in the years to follow, but the whole notion of branding is just one aspect in the pile. In my mind, Madonna was the act to follow. Something new every year. Still thinking that way.

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  5. I never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense. A brand is something that we create and shape our-selves, hence closed source. Your reputation is the feedback you get from society based on your brand and how well you where able to perform and act on your word. This is what makes personal branding so difficult.People can brand themselves as anyone or anything, but it holds no weight it if doesnt get accepted by everyone as a whole. But in response to your first comment you made, i believe that social media IS now about personal branding. Before web 2.0 the regular Joe never had a voice and now has the opportunity to be heard and put their brands out there. With such a massive blogosphere, where everyone can speak their mind, reputations are created and destroyed every day. This I feel is the TRUE power behind social media.

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  6. The power of social media lies in the connections that it fosters between people. Between people attempting to create a brand, and those who interact with the brand/person and create the reputation that person has.The conversation is still in charge. Branding is an attempt to control the conversation. Just watch what people are saying when you aren't listening.Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. I never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense. A brand is something that we create and shape our-selves, hence closed source. Your reputation is the feedback you get from society based on your brand and how well you where able to perform and act on your word. This is what makes personal branding so difficult.People can brand themselves as anyone or anything, but it holds no weight it if doesnt get accepted by everyone as a whole. But in response to your first comment you made, i believe that social media IS now about personal branding. Before web 2.0 the regular Joe never had a voice and now has the opportunity to be heard and put their brands out there. With such a massive blogosphere, where everyone can speak their mind, reputations are created and destroyed every day. This I feel is the TRUE power behind social media.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The power of social media lies in the connections that it fosters between people. Between people attempting to create a brand, and those who interact with the brand/person and create the reputation that person has.The conversation is still in charge. Branding is an attempt to control the conversation. Just watch what people are saying when you aren't listening.Thanks for stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
  9. [...] Branding is the same. Branding is not a conversation. As I have said previously (here), a Brand and the act of Branding is read-only, closed-source. The Brand is shaped and formed to [...]

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  10. [...] I have said before: Personal Branding is all about you, closed source. Everything has to come back to the [...]

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