In the last decade or so corporate branding has evolved to become a more significant part of a communications strategy. After generations of a brand's qualities being attributed to it by consumers or fans over the course of time and through the evolution of a product's or company's reputation, the efforts to control or project that brand has lost a degree of authenticity due to the efforts to control and take ownership of a brand and its traits rather than to acknowledge that a brand is a public entity separate from the organization that owns the trademark and creates and builds the product(s) associated with it.
One consequence of the more methodical approach to branding is that organizations have tended to distance their core operations and mission from the brands that they promote and earn their revenue from. In the case of Proctor and Gamble, the brands they have compete with one another, each projecting their images to targeted audiences to win favour and expand profit margins. The branding seems to be an even more cynical guise of corporate intentions at Unilever, where the branding for Dove products - with their positive body image approaches targeted at female consumers - stands in stark contradiction to the branding used to pitch Axe products to men. Corporations are intent to say whatever their appeals to their targeted audiences, but at the same time keep enough distance from their brands that the general public can participate in the dialogue on brand perception or definition when choosing not to buy.
With personal branding it seems that the complexity and range of interests or traits a person can have ought to be simplified and encapsulated to a digestible entity, with perhaps the opportunity to dole out those personal subtleties over time, in a manner that narrows what we are and as with corporate branding, distances a projected image from our character. Such an approach to presenting an online presence of one sort or another is not without its advantages, but there are too many occasions where our online presence overlooks so much of our essence our character that it never does us justice. It is ironic that when so much narcissism is attributed to people who are active in social media that profiles - whether via Twitter, Facebook, a blog (or five) or message board - are so much aimed at pleasing others and adapting to the communities one gravitates toward. The question that I would like to answer is if there is a correlation between the increase in personal branding and the quest to assert a degree of authenticity as well. The complexities that one creates by with this new online-self-consciousness only emphasizes the artificiality of the process. It is more ideal to strip down the core of an online presence as much as possible and get to the reality of character. The more you try to mold or edit out of your virtual presence, the more likely you are to limit the core audience that would follow regardless of the range of expression,
In many ways online presence needs to get closer to that face-to-face persona, which again is based on company, comfort or circumstance. Bear in mind that an online presence can become rigid in the name of neatness rather than the complex messiness that we are more capable of presenting "live," whether we intend to or not. At the end of the day, we must find someway to let our character and individuality find expression no matter what the niche of the net we drift into.