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I am your brand

I am a New Yorker. I am a tech marketer.  I fly Virgin.  I buy organic.  I blog.  I care about human rights and healthcare.  I wear Theory.  I practice yoga. 

I am more these things than perhaps the Irish, Catholic girl from a suburb of New Jersey I once identified with.  I am, in some way, the sum total of all of these things.  

I typically walk into the office in the morning with a Starbucks Venti.  On some level, Starbucks has become part of my personal brand.  I wouldn’t be caught dead with a Dunkin Donuts.  Not my brand. 

What brands define you and align with who you are?  Or maybe more to the point, what brands align with who you aspire to be? 

Today’s consumer identifies with brands on a personal, human level.  We’ve moved from an era of “I like brand X” to one of “I am brand X.”  Consumers align their egos and their personal belief system with the brands they choose to represent them.  

We see consumer brands making the shift to cater to consumer motivations.  Honda appeals to the fuel efficient millennial.  Apple caters to a fanatical following who fashion themselves among the tech elite.   Virgin attracts customers who care about a lower carbon footprint.  Toms is the brand of choice for the caring consumer. 

The reason a consumer attaches to a brand is often deeply personal.  The choice goes to the core belief system of that individual to form a connection.

So, as a brand marketer, you ask, who are my customers as people?  The answer isn’t a VP of IT in the banking sector.  The better answer is, a New York wanna-be CIO who identifies with extreme sports.  Is my customer just a grad student at Columbia, or also a young, urban millennial who hates waste?  Is my customer just a retired government worker, or an aging boomer who is nostalgic for youth?  

To understand our customers as human, we need to think about what they care about, what they want, and what they feel. My customer cares deeply about saving the company money.  My customer wants to help save the environment and make healthy choices.  My customer wants to feel the same joie de vivre they used to feel. These are more powerful brand motivators than role, demographic, or industry.  

The sum total of your customers—their attitudes, their impression of the brand—become the human face of your brand.  

As a new consumer, I don’t choose a brand.  I am your brand.




10 Responses

  1. Hi Tami,

    Thanks for sharing.

    This is very insightful. It reminds me of the importance of empathy and deep human understanding — being really in tune with others beyond mere categorization and labelling.

  2. Jarmila Yu says:

    Persona marketing! Wish more would wise up to it so we do H2H and treat one another as people not merely buyers.

  3. Glen Gilmore says:

    Great post, Tami!

    “I am brand X” is an extremely important principle for brands to grasp.  It demands enormous accountabiity from brands as more and more consumers express their personal brands by the commercial brands they embrace.  The end result will be greater corporate responsibility and deeper brand loyalty for those companies that accept the challenge.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

  4. Silvia says:

    Very true, Tami – we, the consumers, are the brand. Or more precise: we shape how a brand is being perceived by others. And yet: The fact that we are the sum of many details is nothing new. Is it? So, strictly speaking: We, as consumers, haven't really changed. Have we? It's just that today our voices are being heard not only in our neighbourhood, but also on the other side of the world. Some years ago companies thought they were in control of a brand. Just because they weren't able to hear those murmuring voices. Today, they have a chance to listen. And still. So many just don't. What a great opportunity for companies / brands to stand out.

  5. Tami! Thanks to Kelly Hooey I just re-found you.  Great post. Love the blog.  good to re-connect! I'm at the Brand Activation Association.  Still in branding. Not in fashion. 🙂 

  6. […] This article originally appeared on Digital Age of Marketing. […]

  7. Nancy Warman says:

    Hi Tami,

    WOW !!  This highlights the importance of a company being authentic and truly honoring and living its brand values. 

  8. Hi Tami,

    I am fascinated by this article. You put what a brand is into words so eloquently, brands are now essentially an extension of our personal identities. I think that is why it is so important for brands to stay true to their "why" for doing what they do-this is what resonates with us on a human level as you said. Simon Sinek had a great Ted talk and book regarding also. Great read, thank you so much for posting!


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