Category Archives: blog

The Brand is You

I’m Loving It.
What’s In Your Wallet?
Just Do It.
Have It Your Way.
Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

With just a simple phrase, these brands are immediately recognizable. As future communication strategists, it is critical that we understand the importance of what a strong brand can do for our businesses and ourselves. Developing a brand can take a relatively unknown product and catapult it into the consumer psyche. Crafting a brand can also help products and businesses that have been failing or in trouble and turn them into something new and exciting. The right brand in place can say a lot about the product, business, or person, which is exactly what a brand is designed to do.

Branding

If you cannot tell, this week our discussion and readings focused on branding and online reputation. So, what exactly is “branding”? Branding is creating a unique name or image for a product through advertising. With an abundance of products available to consumers, crafting a brand can help them to stand out from the rest of the pack. For me, branding is one of the most important topics we have discussed in this course, because it brings all of the posts over the last few weeks together. Not only is networking an important aspect of branding, but also the way we use social media tools.

For me, one of the most entertaining recent advertising campaigns is McDonald’s new ad for their McGriddles sandwich. The basic concept of the commercial is “because this is how I take my coffee” … with a [insert a specific type of] McGriddles. The commercial advertises their sandwich and their coffee emphasizing these two products being paired together.  And like every McDonald’s commercial, it ends with their trademark “I’m Loving It” slogan. This is a campaign that has been sent out via traditional and social media and brings a little bit of humor to their brand. See commercial example here: http://youtu.be/BqCBFNPtuAQ. There are many types of branding, but for this post I will be focusing specifically on two types: internet branding and personal branding.

Internet Branding

The Internet has become a pivotal role in enhancing a brand’s relationships and reputation. Because of its speed, the Internet can push a product further than using traditional media. However, this does not mean that the techniques used in building a brand are any different from using traditional media, which authors Chiagouris and Wansley state in their article “Branding on the Internet.” They say that the steps used to bond a consumer with a product is basically the same, it is just the speed that makes them different. Having a positive online experience can be the defining characteristic that brings consumers back time and time again.

Social media and blogging, in particular are significant aspects in building up a brand online. As we have learned and are practicing in this course, creating a blog can be a way to introduce you to future employers. One point to remember about blogs is the credibility of the site. Since more and more individuals are reading blogs (particularly younger professionals) due to the fact they are being incorporated more and more into one’s work, it is another avenue through which your voice can be heard. Keeping your blog and online profiles filled with current, relevant and accurate information can advertise the credibility of your writing and boost another aspect of your brand.

Personal Branding

Businesses are not the only ones that need to be concerned with branding. Individuals also need to consider what their personal brand is saying about them to employers and colleagues. So, what exactly is a personal brand? It is your voice and your reputation that you intentionally create, manage, and communicate about. Other aspects of your personal brand include your skills, experience, expertise, and the products or services you represent (Rosen, 2013). It is what helps you to stand out from the crowd. Some people believe only celebrities need to be concerned with developing a brand, but we are all brands. We need to know the skills to effectively market ourselves to other people.

Personal branding starts with many of the topics we have discussed over the past few weeks. Are you active in social media? If so, what does your profile say about you? Do you have a blog? If so, what topics does your blog cover? Is it based towards professional posts or is it more personal? Thinking about these questions can help you determine what foot you are putting forward. There is going to be information out on the Internet about you, so what better time than now is it to take control of it and make it say what you want it to say showcasing your unique talents and experience. The most important thing to remember when building your personal brand is not only the important of communicating yourself, but making sure you are easily found, and that your materials and online presence communicate what is special about you (Rosen, 2013).

One things to remember that your personal brand is an evolving relationship (Schneider, 2012). This means that over time your brand may evolve as your interests and professional direction changes. You need to be able to evolve your brand as your evolve through your professional career. You also need to remember that it is also difficult to control how others perceive you.  The best approach to creating a brand is making sure that it is authentic and you are able to deliver on what you advertise. You need to advertise the skill sets you currently have and not pretend to be someone else.

Do you have a personal brand that accurately describes you? Take a look at your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profiles. When viewed are prospective employers able to distinguish who you are and what is your personal and professional mission or vision statement?  Nance Rosen (2013) posed some questions to consider when developing a brand. By answering the following questions, she says that you can learn more about the special qualities that will help you to create a powerful brand:

1. What one positive quality have you had since you were little, that pretty much everyone notices after spending time with you?
2. What one word would you use to describe the way you approach problems?
3. Why do people enjoy spending time with you?

Some self-reflection and analysis can help you uncover who you are and the best way to advertise your skills and experience. A quick Google search can also alert you to where you can be found online. As I close this post, I leave you with one simple question:

What does your brand say about you?

In case you do not know the above slogans to their brands, here is the answer key:

McDonald’s
Capital One
Nike
Burger King
M & M’s

Sources:

Chiagouris, L. & Wansley, B. (2000) Branding on the internet. Marketing Management, p. 34-38.

Rosen, N. (2013, January 22). Fundamentals of personal branding. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/fundamentals-of-personal-branding-2012-10.

Schneider, K.G. (2012, November 6). Personal branding for librarians: Distinguishing yourself from the professional herd. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/articleb/personal-branding-librarians.

Schawbel, D. (2009, February 5). Personal branding 101: How to discover and create your brand. Masable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/02/05/personal-branding-101/.

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The Great and Powerful Blog

This week our class focused on a different form of social media: blogs. More specifically, the topic for this week focused on blogging, citizen journalism, and digital democracy. What once started out as a way to chronicle one’s opinions and feelings has turned into a dynamic tool used in journalism. For some individuals, blogs are written as a way to provide a point of view that is not being broadcast by traditional media outlets. For others, it is a way to express one’s thoughts and feelings about their day-to-day lives chronicling their personal history. No matter how a blog is used one thing is for sure; blogs have made an impact not only for personal journaling [diaries], but as a way for individuals to take news journalism into their own hands.

Our assigned readings and TED Talk lectures focused on the perks and drawbacks of this type of social media [blogs]. In her TED Talk, Mena Trott opened up her discussion stating that blogs are scary. She is right. Blogs can be an unfriendly place. What we chronicle online can be read by anyone (depending upon settings) and the responses back may be something less than desirable. That being said, blogs do not have to be a scary place. They can be transformed into a place where we feel comfortable writing, as well as a way we can be open with each other and form connections. I found it quite interesting that in a few of the articles assigned for this week mentioned that one of the top reasons behind why some people blog was to build close relationships or connections with other people. For something that is a solo pursuit, I found that to be extremely fascinating.

Because blogging is a solo pursuit, I find that one downside to all of this virtual connection is that even though we are connecting with other individuals, in essence, we are alone behind a computer (or phone) screen. The best way to describe this is a term used by Sherry Turkle in her TED Talk “Connected, but Alone?” that we are becoming “alone together.” This means that even when we are together, we our turning our attention to our devices or online places external from our current location. By focusing on our connections online, we are distancing ourselves from real-time face to face conversations and meetings. Because this form of communication is online, we can also present a false sense of ourselves. Conversations can be delayed, edited, or deleted. Since we can choose what we share on the internet, we can project the type of person we want people to perceive we are. This is more so for individuals who chose to write blogs chronicling their lives.

As for those wanting to write about news, politics, or their profession, one of the most powerful aspects of a blog is how we, the consumer, can take journalism and reporting information into our own hands. Because of a blog’s nature, it is easy to create a website and instantly begin to write posts about anything ranging from personal stories to community events to current world affairs. The citizen journalist is becoming even more valuable than ever before. One of the greatest aspects about citizen journalism is being able to provide a unique perspective on events, which when compared by what is driven by mainstream media, can be a refreshing viewpoint (Revis, 2011). During the 2005 tsunami, “ordinary” individuals began posting pictures and videos of the tragic events before the mainstream media had picked up the news. These people were documenting the events and providing eyewitness accounts via pictures, videos, and testimonies. This is extremely important in that these individuals helped to preserve stories of this tragedy through their first-hand accounts.

Not only does this allow ordinary individuals the chance to express their opinions, but it also helps to provide more balanced reporting. The citizen reporter acts as another check and balance to what is being broadcast by the mainstream media (Revis, 2011). It opens up the creation of news content making it an even playing field between professional and citizen journalists promoting digital democracy. Blogs enable individuals to find an audience that is not blocked by traditional media to discern the truth from fiction (Silberberg, 2008). Since blogs can contain a variety of information from personal journals to professional or news specific websites, how do you know if the information that is being published is filled with credible or reliable information? Because we can hide behind the internet, you never know who is creating the content. There is a combination of things that can be done by both the author and the reader. For the author, they should post a list of their credentials, including education and previous work history. The author should also provide links to relevant sources that connect to scholarly information or mainstream news stories providing evidence for their reporting. That being said, the reader should look at the blog to evaluate whether or not the author has any experience in the topics they are covering in their blog. By the author listing the above information, it can help the reader to determine the quality of the information they find within the blog.

On a personal note, I love blogs. I have been actively reading and/or participating in blogs for at least ten years and have even done some research and presentations on their benefits to libraries and librarians. I discovered blogs while in college when LiveJournal and Xanga were the place to be and be read. As I grew older, my focus turned from reading personal blogs written by friends to blogs written by people in my profession (librarianship). I have found following blogs written by colleagues in my field to be extremely beneficial in my day-to-day work and even in some of my research. These blogs range from personal anecdotes about the profession to reporting professional development opportunities to thought-provoking essays that could actually have been published in a journal or trade magazine. The greatest benefit I have found in them is that they open up a conversation and promote collaboration between individuals who would never have met without the blog.

As I come to an end of this blog post, I realize more than ever the power of a blog. As I type this, I have the opportunity to contribute meaningful information and a unique perspective. We have a powerful tool at the tip of our fingers. If you blog, why? If you don’t, why not?

Additional Sources:

Revis, L. (2011, November 10). How citizen journalism is reshaping media and democracy. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/11/10/citizen-journalism-democracy/.

Silberberg, A. W., & Shapira, R. J. (2008, October 2). Bloggers lead media to report McCain/Palin’s campaign “Lies”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-w-silberberg-and-ralph-j-shapira/bloggers-lead-media-to-re_b_131155.html.