It is inevitable I guess but it seems that every time a discussion about social networks and social media takes place the phrase build your brand invariably comes up. With the launch of Google+ this past week brand once more becomes a talking point especially in regards to the validity of Google’s efforts with G+.
There is no doubt that Google+ has set off a pro and con discussion about this third effort to come up with a viable social network but that isn’t what this post will be discussing, that will come later. Rather I want to visit this concept of individuals as brands, brands that need to be marketed, because this idea of individual brands seems to be a major component of what social media is suppose to be.
First though let’s understand exactly what the word brand, or concept, means. From Wikipedia we get the following:
A brand is the identity of a specific product, service, or business.
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name.” 
A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan. The word branding began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity — it affects the personality of a product, company or service.
Now let’s understand what a person, or individual, means; and again from Wikipedia we get:
Person - In philosophy, the word “person” may refer to various concepts. According to the “naturalist” epistemological tradition, from Descartes through Locke and Hume, the term may designate any human (or non-human) agent which: (1) possesses continuous consciousness over time; and (2) who is therefore capable of framing representations about the world, formulating plans and acting on them.
Individual - An individual is a person or any specific object or thing in a collection. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires. In his statement Cogito ergo sum (“I think therefore I am”), René Descartes posits the notion of the individual subject, distinct from the world around him or her.
At no point does person or individual ever equate to being a brand, just as a brand doesn’t equal being a person or individual. Yet in our modern Internet world we are constantly told, especially when it comes to social media, that we need to protect our brand, that we need to get our brand out there.
Why are we suddenly placing more value on a thing instead of us as a person?
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