LinkedIn Tries to Evangelize European Users With “You Are a Brand” Strategy

LinkedIn urges its European users to Be a Brand. In cyberspace, however, no one can hear a Gallic shrug.


Be a Brand, exhorts LinkedIn in a new campaign to its European users. The marketing exercise kicks off today with a spanky website survey that invites individuals to work out just what kind of brand they are, in an attempt to increase their employment prospects.


The BrandYou campaign is backed by some largeish names on its board,
including John Woodward from Publicis Worldwide, INSEAD marketing bod
David Midgely, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Andrzej Moyseowicz, and author
Katie Ledger. But just how much will it work on LinkedIn’s 18 million Euro members? This is, after all, the continent where a Gallic shrug conveys indifference in other countries besides France.

The coffee-break questionnaire will lump you into one of four different types of brands:

  • Global Guru–that’s the Googles, Apples, Coca-Colas, Nikes and Starbucks of this world
  • Rebel with a Cause–Audi, Nutella, Red Bull and Harley Davidson
  • Alternative Thinker–Uniqlo, Innocent, Diesel, Tesla and Muji
  • Multibrand–that’s Unilever, Dupont, LVMH, Starwood and Virgin

And then give you advice on how to market yourself and improve your prospects. It’s not the first time this idea–or name–has been mooted, but it’s probably the first time anyone has ever thought that having a survey where a respondent is told that, workwise they are most similar to either Ikea, Nutella, or Bayer is, frankly, a bit odd. Actually, perhaps this is innovation in its purest form: so far off the scale that it’s just plain weird, and we’re too stupid and sheeplike to see it.

It’s hard not to see this as anything else but an attempt to bolster the site’s membership levels in Europe, which number less than one fifth of its total of 80 million users. As a recruitment campaign, it may well work. The ubiquitous nature of social networking these days means that LinkedIn, which was conceived and launched before Facebook was even a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye, is more successful now than anyone might have envisaged. It is, however, an unavoidable truth that LinkedIn’s success is down to one thing: how Facebook changed the Internet.

But, at the bottom of this BrandYou exercise lies a niggling doubt. Just how into the idea of user branding is LinkedIn? I mean, where’s the section that lets its members design their own profile? There are not enough leopardskin-and-fuschia, or animated smiley profiles on the site for me to really think that they’re taking this idea and running with it. I mean, haven’t they heard of MySpace?

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S