Tom Peters’ article “The Brand Called You,” first published by Fast Company in 1997, offers insights that are remarkably applicable to the realm of virtual influencers in today’s digital landscape. Peters’ focus on personal branding and the importance of individual distinctiveness in the professional world parallels the emerging trend of virtual influencers in the digital marketing sphere.
Peters begins by highlighting the ubiquitous nature of branding in everyday life, using examples of popular brands and how they influence consumer identity. This notion is directly relevant to virtual influencers, who, though not human, are meticulously crafted to represent specific brand identities and values. These digital entities, much like the brands Peters references, are designed to resonate with target audiences, creating a unique identity that stands out in the crowded digital space.
The article delves into the shift in the working world towards individual branding, emphasizing the need for professionals to view themselves as brands – CEOs of “Me Inc.” This concept of self-branding can be extended to virtual influencers, who are essentially digital embodiments of specific branding strategies. They represent a blend of traits, values, and aesthetics that align with their target audience, much like a professional would tailor their personal brand to stand out in their industry.
Peters discusses the rise of free agents in an economy increasingly characterized by individuality and personal branding. This mirrors the rise of virtual influencers, who can be seen as the ultimate free agents in the digital marketing world. They are not confined by human limitations and can be endlessly customized to suit the evolving needs of the brands they represent.
In the realm of professional services, Peters points out the emphasis on soft assets, primarily talented and motivated people. Virtual influencers, while not real people, are crafted to emulate this human appeal, offering brands the ability to harness the persuasive power of human-like interaction without the unpredictability of human behavior.
Marketing the personal brand, as Peters suggests, involves increasing visibility and nurturing a network of contacts. Virtual influencers operate on a similar principle, leveraging social media platforms to enhance their visibility and engage with a network of followers. Their success, like that of any personal brand, hinges on their ability to create a distinctive, trustworthy presence that attracts and retains audience attention.
Peters also touches on the power of influence, a critical component for both personal brands and virtual influencers. For virtual influencers, the power lies in their ability to influence consumer behavior and preferences through carefully curated content and interactions.
The article concludes by emphasizing the importance of continually reinventing one’s brand to stay relevant and successful. This is especially pertinent for virtual influencers, as the digital landscape is constantly evolving. To maintain their relevance, these digital entities must adapt to changing trends, audience preferences, and technological advancements.
In summary, Tom Peters’ insights on personal branding and the evolving nature of professional success provide a useful framework for understanding the rise and functioning of virtual influencers in today’s digital marketing world. Just as individuals are encouraged to cultivate unique personal brands, virtual influencers are crafted to represent distinctive, appealing brand identities that resonate with their target audiences in the digital realm.
- Peters, T. (1997). The brand called you. Fast company, 10(10), 83-90.