There was a recent article in the New York Times, discussing how individuals present themselves in virtual worlds and the social internet. The author referred to the work of psychologist and sociologist, Erving Goffman who used the analogy of theatrical performance for the way we present ourselves to others in the world.
We all have multiple identities in this life – parent, child, workmate, lover, friend, enemy, teacher, pupil etc. In the virtual world of social internet we present ourselves in various ways and manage out identities by subtle means. We choose or usernames or screen names to convey meaning; the interests we choose to list, the books and the music – out of all the things we could list, we are very selective to create subtle impressions, even though we often do this partly subconsciously.
Brands to do this: there are the explicit and overt things they do – the copy, the selection of images, the clients they choose to list. If we follow the brand as person model, it is like a person choosing to list Wittgenstein and Dickens in their book list rather than Jeffrey Archer and Harry Potter, where a brand might select multinationals with spotless records rather than dodgy arms dealers or polluting manufacturers.