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what i say i am
this brand is my brand
by mike julianelle
3.6.09
pop culture


I recently jumped into the Twitter fray and immediately began asking a friend what the hell I’m supposed to do. As far as I can tell it's mostly for bored Congressmen, foolish reporters and Rainn Wilson. I am none of those things. But my friend tells me that it is for me. Well, not me, exactly, but for "Mike Julianelle". My brand.

Am I a brand? Not exactly. Like just about everyone else that hasn't starred on a reality show, I am far too complicated to be distilled into a “collection of symbols, experiences and associations connected with a product, a service, a person or entity.” But thanks to Web 2.0, we are all brands. At least online.

We use Facebook to brand ourselves socially, cluing our friends and our acquaintances and our "friends" in to what’s going on in our lives. We use LinkedIn to brand ourselves professionally, via our work history and networking connections. And we use Twitter because we're bored and are determined to share that boredom with the rest of the world. It's like we're punishing the Internet for wasting our time by...wasting more of our time.

Yet for better or worse, when we are googled - and when Judgment Day comes, we shall all be googled - these are the versions of ourselves that are revealed. These are our brands.

Our brands don’t exist as real people. They can’t. I neither need to be nor would be effective in branding myself to people I actually know; human contact dissolves the illusion and complicates the shorthand a brand provides. To maintain such a thing in real life, I’d have to be forever measuring my words, monitoring my responses and reactions, making sure I never veered "off brand." In other words, I'd be a politician. No thanks.

Online, though, I can control what people see of me. Or, more accurately, what me people see. I can create a fictionalized, or at least idealized, version of myself on the internet, to be conjured on a computer screen and exist nowhere else. Voila: “Mike Julianelle.”

My online brand image began, somewhat inadvertently, with my output here at "the Invisible Times": Intrepid Media. Closer now to ten years ago than five, and long before social networking took over the world, I joined this site and started writing. I wrote as "Mike Julianelle," a persona later branded "Angry Young Man" by the powers that be, and one I’ve long since outgrown. I always thought of "Mike Julianelle" as a character, an artistic gambit protecting me from the consequences of controversial words; but reflecting on it now, it’s the only image some people have of me. It’s my brand, whether I like it or not. And this can be problematic.

My friends know me and thus see my columns as extensions of the guy I am when I'm being outrageous or funny or drunk. But the people that find me online only know the image I present: my brand. Say you don't know me and you google me. You'll inevitably land on one of these columns, and something in there might bother you - if not to the point of being offended then maybe to the point of not hiring me. In retrospect, I probably should've used a pseudonym! I'm partial to Nannerpuss (Guess what? I love pancakes!).

But I didn't and now I've got no choice but to take control and manage my brand, essentially becoming my own publicist, marketer and agent.

That's the risk you take when you join the online community. You have to be diligent about the image you wish to project or else deal with the consequences of letting the internet control it. The next thing you know, you're the Star Wars kid.

The person I mentioned at the start of this, the friend I asked about Twitter, is probably confused right now, because he knows I've never been one to embrace this idea of branding myself via Web 2.0. And he's right. I've never changed my Facebook status, I rarely update any of my profiles, I don't take nearly enough advantage of LinkedIn, and, until recently, I'd never Twittered. Or Tweeted. Or Twatted. Whatever.

But I am trying to change.

Now I need to make sure that everyone knows all my swearing and Jesus-bashing and baby-hating is just part of the "Mike Julianelle" brand. Most of the time.
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Now that I've started growing my presence online, you can follow me on Twitter (julesy999), friend me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, and read me on The Examiner (this one's about drinking!). Do it all, just stay away from me in real life.


ABOUT MIKE JULIANELLE

Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle

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COMMENTS

sandra thompson
3.13.09 @ 11:16a

"Now I need to make sure that everyone knows all my swearing and Jesus-bashing and baby-hating is just part of the "Mike Julianelle" brand. Most of the time."

I truly enjoy all that stuff about you. If I ever remember to tweet, I'll say so, too.




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