Blogs as Marketing and Identity Management Tools

In an article entitled Towards A Weblogging Empire, Wired magazine reports on the new ambitions of former Silicon Alley editor Jason Calacanis -- to create a business based on blogging (Weblogsinc).

What I like about the Wired piece is that it challenges Calancanis's assumptions. "Longtime bloggers," Wired points out, are "dubious about whether blogs can be cash cows."

I'm with the longtimers. Blogs aren't about making money; they probably never will be. Blogs are about marketing; creating a narrative; and thus about designing and maintaining an identity, a brand.

I don't believe we live in a world where individuals have become brands. Rather, I believe that individuals have always branded themselves within their own communities (schoolteacher, athlete, scribe, and so on).

These days, moreover, we participate in virtual communities -- in mass communities, mediated by television and other "broadcast" media, and in thin communities, maintained by the "narrowcast" medium of the internet.

Those communities are themed and powered by the common interests of their participants; communities are no longer necessarily based on cultural or geographical associations.

Our world is one of overlapping communities, of mass and minority communities. Blogging is a narrative form that works particularly well for medium- to small-sized communities.



Sheila Patterson / October 1, 2003 8:32 PM / #

I love this blog!

a ranting jb / October 3, 2003 12:59 PM / #

I would disagree that people have always "branded" themselves. Defining oneself in terms of your job or place within society would reflect a functional approach to how individual were placed within their communities. These titles were predicated on the notion that a teacher could indeed teach or an athlete could compete and attain varying levels of success, etc, etc. Hence their identity was defined by their actions. Using your identity as a brand does not reflect the actual nature of who you are. I belief that self is a fluid notion and can only be defined in individuals contexts. To create a successful and constant brand based on oneself implies that the "self" is constant, implying little change in your day-to-day life (or more importantly year-to-year life). If one were to alter the brand to suit the individual, it would lack the consistency to survive in any marketplace or arena, whether it is for commercial gain or not?

michael heraghty / October 3, 2003 7:42 PM / #

John -- I don't think your statement that, in the past, a person's "identity was defined by their actions" is at all incompatible with the idea of a person having a "brand". Actions go towards creating a brand –- and communication is, after all, a form of action (hence the term “speech-act”, for example).

Yet I suspect you have a different sense of the meaning of "brand" than I do. For me, brand, identity, and reputation are all words than mean very similar things in relation to personhood.

I am comfortable using the words "brand" and "identity" interchangeably in this context. Thus, in the past, people's *brands* were defined by their actions – as well as by their declarations and other communications.

And I entirely agree that "self" is a fluid notion -- but I disagree that "brand" is a fixed one! In the corporate world, companies are constantly reinventing their brands -- or "rebranding" themselves.

As individuals, we rebrand ourselves continually. Our identities are narratives, and our brands are narratives too.

Which is why a blog is a great way to create a brand, precisely because it is a narrative form, and conveys a sense of change over time...

I think we're differing on semantics here...

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