Monday, April 4, 2011

Branding ourselves...without third degree burns.

Riddle me this: What is something a lot of us have recently learned to use in our favor, yet has been on the corporate landscape for generations?

What have businesses spent billions of dollars to develop and nurture, yet we spend virtually nothing?

What permeates every aspect of our lives to the point of distraction, yet we utilize our own incarnations to cast us in the most favorable light possible?

Here's a hint. This is mine:
His name is Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch—

and my brand.

Here's another shot of him:

And another:

He played for the Los Angeles Rams during the 1950s, an era when football was obviously played with lots of jumping and scissor kicking. In this image, he looks a lot like my brother after he'd wrestled away my family-size box of Cheese Nips.

Crazylegs appears to be getting some serious air and sporting some serious hair. I understand now why he didn't want to be photographed with a helmet in a couple of these. His hairdo was a helmet.

Why did I pick this particular man to represent my blog's brand?  I have absolutely no idea. It might be a combination of my childhood love for the Rams and the ironically dorky pose he's making, but who knows? When I laid eyes on that first shot, my Google image search was over.

So let me return to my original point. With the advent of Facebook and other social media, we've all been given an opportunity to brand ourselves. We can post pictures, quotes, videos; anything that portrays us the way we want to be seen by people who, quite frankly, don't really know us.

When I first joined the Facebooks, I employed a straightforward branding approach, yet still with a bit of a slant. Here's my inaugural image:

It's a pretty decent shot of me—a little grainy, yet I'm smiling and it was taken during a thinner time. It says "Hi, I'm the skinny summertime Tim. This is how I want you to think of me. The fat winter Tim will be writing a blog and representing himself with a silly-looking, 1950s football player.

See what I mean?

Just as The Final Four, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, The Superbowl and Playtex Light Days Heavy Working Maximum Absorbing Aerodynamically Pretty Tampon/Pads protect their branding with a rabid do we.

Social media has made possible what we're unable to accomplish in face-to-face interactions. We can present an edited, Photoshopped, highly calculated, best-foot-forward face, and only then can the world scrutinize us. It's comforting, yet, just as reality television is everything but reality, so are these forums.

So, to help tear down this fa├žade, I'm going to start presenting the real me—in installments. You must read every post in order to accumulate the necessary elements to assemble my complete naked body. Every wart, every mole and every stretch mark caused by bench pressing far too much weight for someone my size will be bared for all to see. I'm sacrificing a lot here—no retouching, no cropping and most importantly, no branding.

Tomorrow, my left shin.

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