According to futurist Tracey Follows, "this might be the end ofthe corporate brand and the beginning of the new era of the personalbrand."
Follows discussed how the shifting nature of identity for bothconsumers and companies might entail huge changes in how the two interact today(9 June) at the Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward. According to Follows, the co-founder and CEO of Futuremade, digital technologies are allowing us to change our identities in novel and fascinating ways.
“We are no longer merely considering the concept of identity interms of our consciousness, our intellect, or our physicality, our body. “Athird dimension, which is ‘my technology,' has been added to those two dimensions,” she explained. According to Follows, our concept of self has shifted dramatically: “The self is much more immaterial, maybe much more fake, and definitely much more emotional.”
According to Follows, the tendency of being at ease with parallelworlds of physical bodies and virtual identities began with Gen Z customers andis now extending to more people as their biometric data is recorded. This is the data that businesses are clamoring for. The surveillance of online behavior and the resulting ad targeting based on that behavior is increasingly turning into biometric targeting.
“This is going to radically impact our experiences on the internetand through digital marketing,” Fellows said, adding that adverts will becomemore personalized. “To put it another way, our media has evolved from a technological to a biological state. That's a pretty personal thing to say.”
There was a significant increase in the number of consumers whovisited virtual worlds during the shutdown, often for gaming purposes or toexplore new virtual places. Participants can take on various identities using a variety of avatars before returning to their own reality. One appeal is to get away from the image demands of the actual world. According to Follows, by the age of 13, children had seen roughly 1,300 photographs of themselves shared online, mostly by their parents.
She observed, "Their parents have effectively given them anidentity before they have been able to build one for themselves." Accordingto Follows, avatars will become more prevalent in modern, fluid, and multifaceted identities. She observed that people are becoming accustomed to electronically trying on multiple versions of themselves and then bringing them back into the real world.
In fact, she envisions scenarios in which we can run into not onlypeople we know in avatar form, but also alternate versions of ourselves, suchas previous avatars. We might even create a wardrobe of avatars to accompany us to virtual meetings, allowing us to be in multiple locations at once.
Such developments raise the question of whether this indicates theemergence of a split or extended identity. According to Follows, technology isincreasingly seen as an extension, a mechanism for us to grow and exist in new places.
She mentioned virtual influencers with admirers and followers as anexample of crossover between the actual and virtual worlds, as well as howthere is currently a tendency in Japan for cross-dimensional ‘marriages' with digital assistants. According to Follows, there have been 37,000 such marriages.