Marketing in today’s world to personal brands; perception matters more than substance
John Dick, CEO of CivicScience, sends out an email every Saturday summarizing the insights of some of CivicScience’s poll findings for that week. It starts with a personal message from him. I found this past Saturday’s message very insightful about marketing in today’s world to personal brands. It is something every business should consider factoring into their marketing. Following was what he wrote.
<<Back in the day, we had a mantra we used to tell brand marketers: “Don’t sell to me. Sell to the person I want to be.” The idea being that consumers’ aspirations mattered more than their current state.
But as social media proliferated, especially as Millennials and Zs came of age, we modified the statement: “Don’t sell to me. Sell to the person I want people to think I am.” While it’s only a subtle difference on paper, the implications are enormous.
We’re living in the undisputed era of personal brand building. You can thank the device in our pockets and the multitude of different places we peddle our identity – Facebook, Instagram, even LinkedIn. The clothes we wear in our pictures, the restaurants we “check in” from, even the media sources we cite are ultimately curated – consciously or not – to convey the image we want people to believe.
We all do it to varying degrees and with varying levels of premeditation. Hell, I’m Patient Zero. If you don’t think I labor over every word in this email to make sure I stay “on brand,” you might also be devastated to learn there’s no Tooth Fairy.
Before you yell at me about how you don’t do any of this, please know that “I’m not on social media and I don’t give a shit what people think of me” is most definitely a brand.
Even our COVID protocols have become another personal brand element. One group can’t wait to flex their sense of anti-establishment, individual freedom. The other would rather be photographed naked than caught dead in a picture without a mask. If you didn’t know better, you might wonder whether the COVID vaccine only works if you post about it on social media.
Despite all of this posturing and self-promotion, however, little about our self-assessment has changed. Almost three times as many Americans in our survey data say they’ve gained weight – versus lost weight – during the pandemic. Yet, the percentage who describe themselves as “overweight” hasn’t budged. In fact, that number has actually declined over the past five years.
As long as you see other people in the showroom of personal brands who appear worse than you do – politically unrefined, culturally unsophisticated, fatter – then you’re winning. Perception matters more than substance.>>
Alas, I’m in no position to judge. Or, certainly, to change it.
But there’s nothing about the human condition today that is more important for you to understand. No matter what you’re selling.
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