Thursday, February 23, 2006

The brand down under.

There was an Australian sleeping on my son’s couch for a while there.

It seems this guy has been in the process of circumnavigating the globe, relying for shelter exclusively on people he’s met on MySpace.com. That’s how he bumped into junior. Some shared interest linked them up, they communicated asynchronously for a bit, looked over each other’s respective profiles, and decided that a) they had enough in common and b) the way they described themselves seemed authentic enough to make one complete stranger curling up in a sleeping bag in another complete stranger’s living room seem sensible.

Crazy university kids, you’re probably thinking.

Or, if you’re all clever and current, you might be thinking this is just another example of the connectedness that being young is all about these days.

But if you’re me, you’re thinking, “Hey, that sounds a lot like branding.”

MySpace.com, the phenomenal web community that gets more visitors every day than almighty Google, is perhaps the ultimate proof that brands have gained full citizenship in the dominion of popular culture. Because it proves that everyone wants one of their very own. And that everyone is feeling pretty good about their instincts for sizing brands up. If people are willing to choose their friends this way, choosing mere products to buy is going to be a piece of cake for them.

After all, even if you totally screw up picking a new espresso maker, it probably won’t steal your iPod and leave town with your girlfriend.

Junior’s guest moved on to the next MySpacer after a few days. Apparently, while he was here, though, he was quite tidy and ate only his own food. When the brand is you, I guess you have to be who you promised you’d be, and that last impressions are as important as first ones. A lesson a few brands I know could stand to learn.

But they’re not going to learn it from me. I can’t afford this do-it-yourself branding thing to catch on. University’s not cheap, and junior’s talking post-grad.

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