According to Trendwatching.com, we’re in the middle of a renaissance. And it’s all about me.
The other night, I was with a group of friends at fundraiser where a very flamboyant Jean Harlow look alike was making here way around the room with the air of a celebrity. We didn’t recognize her, but of course were all curious. We overheard someone say her name and within minutes, thanks to our smartphones, we had her bio, website and career credits at our fingertips.
And that got me thinking. These days, everyone’s a quasi-celebrity. And perfect strangers have access to previously intimate details about our lives.
Look around you. People are on Facebook and Twitter. They’re broadcasting their whereabouts on Foursquare and Gowalla. They’ve got their LinkedIn profile link in their email signature. Everything’s interconnected and all roads lead to “me”. It really feels like each of us has become a spokesperson for our own brand.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, the only people whose lives merited hourly updates were celebrities. Lots of people cared what Princess Di ate for lunch. How many care what you or I ate? Yet millions of people worldwide have voluntarily turned their lives into a Truman show. And it’s changing the way we do business with them (and each other).
The big shift.
One of the biggest changes is, of course, the meteoric rise of dotcoms like Facebook and Groupon and Twitter. And let’s not forget, the makers of Angry Birds. In a world with rapidly diminishing resources, it’s interesting to see consumer attention shifting so decisively to “products” that require very little by way of raw materials (other than genius and hard work).
Perhaps it’s a naive thought, but isn’t it possible that global networking and the rise of greater accountability between consumers and producers will eventually lead to less waste and more value? Also a quicker snowballing of innovative thought as many minds work together in different environments?
More opportunity for new businesses
One opportunity is pretty obvious: having access to the minutiae of peoples’ lives makes it increasingly easy to target them. You can use online tools to target consumers when and where they’re most likely to make a purchase. Geolocation platforms like Gowalla and Foursquare are built around this premise. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Turns out, a whole new marketplace opens up when everyone’s the CEO of their own personal brand. As trendwatching.com puts it, “With personal profiles (which are the nucleus of one's personal brand) representing an ever-greater emotional and financial value, expect a burgeoning market for services that protect, store, and, in case of emergencies/death, arrange handing over of one's digital estate to trusted others.”
So, you’ll see companies like Postling, which helps small businesses manage their social media marketing. Or Socioclean popping up to help people “understand and protect” their online social reputation. Good thing, in an age where everyone from your employer to your clients has access to your life online.
Paris Hilton, are you listening?
As designers and communications experts we’re already experiencing demand to help people manage their personal brands. The need for a global “look” for peoples’ profiles across the various platforms they use is also creating huge opportunities. In this time where affordable and powerful online media access is rampant, the you(s) and me(s) of the world can easily delve into global brand creation in a way that only big companies used to.
As it turns out, when it’s all about “me”, there’s plenty for everyone!