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The Masquerade Ball of Social Identities

The dance is going on and everyone is wearing their masks. People dressed like brands, brands dressed like people.

The Masquerade Ball of Social Identities

Today, you can draw anyone’s personality sketch based on the frequency, attitude or look of their so-called “selfies.” They are also a great resource to understand our current times. Obsession with personal image projection has reached its golden age now that we have become social characters with unlimited online visibility. We have unconsciously developed cool-experience detectors that notify us when a situation lets us project the image we want to show to others.

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Exactly like brands used to do with marketing.

But in this social dance, brands are also trying to mature their usual marketing approach to establish more meaningful connections with their users. They are putting effort into getting closer to them by interacting in an informal, friendly tone or by placing personal stories in the center of their campaigns.

Exactly like people used to do.

But brands should be weary. In this masquerade ball originally organized only for people, brands must be aware that nothing is what it seems. In a world of commoditized goods, where the act of buying a specific brand is basically a personality reaffirmation, people want to connect with brands that let them project the personal image they want to show to the world.

Brands may not be interacting with people but rather with idealized self-projections. The projections have passions, social activism or ironic behaviors. As noted in The New York Times, irony and cynicism are probably the best-selling masks of our time, especially among the Western world’s hipster community. As it is against a brand’s nature to be genuinely cynical (we all know brands have a defined, business-oriented purpose), one of the biggest marketing challenges today is to build meaningful connections with that army of disbelievers.

Authenticity and passion. Start from there. People may take off their masks if you remove yours first.

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Enric Llopart is the head of Edelman Digital for Edelman in Latin America. A 10+ year digital and communications professional, he previously was the digital director at Edelman in Spain. Follow Enric on Twitter: @enricllopart

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