Branding and the Self – A Social Extension

According to Goffman, E. (1959) when an individual is present in a social situation, the relevant parties acquire information applicable to the immediate interaction as well as characteristics such as social status, trustworthiness and conception of self. This interpersonal concept allows for individuals to understand what others expect of them, and act accordingly to produce a desired response.

Goffman, E. (1959) states that in social interactions the individual will aim to control the situation, regardless of their objective. This control is permitted by attempting to influence the ‘definition of the situation,’ either by expressing in a particular manner or through tailoring one’s appearance. This concept is the practice of self-packaging, constructing certain traits both physically and digitally to produce a perceived image for employers and consumers (Lair et al. 2005).  Self-branding has become prominent since the introduction of social media. Critics of social media argue that it’s a fragmented representation of the individual, failing to reflect true character. However if we accept Goffman’s theory of individual presentation in community settings, with social media as a social environment, the individual is demonstrating to their audience an aspect of their persona. If utilised properly, according to Lair et al. (2005), the success of self-packaging isn’t determined by skills or interests, but rather the ability to brand oneself.

While individuals have developed careers from social media, such as the rise of the Instagram model, Newport, C. (2016) argues that social platforms can be detrimental to career success. Basing his argument on two constructs; opportunity will come to those with skills, and importantly that social media reducing the ability to concentrate – something of growing value in an increasingly complex economy. Further implications of personal branding include the application of alcoholic drinks throughout photos, outlining an image of irresponsibility, and political references polarising potential candidates (Hood et al. 2015). Machaz, H. A. Shokoofh, K. argue that it is ‘inappropriate’ to believe that work and personal life are distinct, and thus all photos should represent the offline branding of the individual. This is critical with the movement towards privacy reduction, with many maintaining privacy to be nonexistent.

The concept of personal branding runs deeper than the presentation of the self in the physical and digital sphere. Self-Concept is the collection of values that a person has for the self.



The self-concept is constructed of self-schemas, and utilises self-assessments to determine dimensions of the individual (Gerrig, R. J. Zimbardo, P.G. 2002). This is illustrated by Stryker, S. Burke, P. (2000) that the self is a concept of various characters reflecting the contribution each has in a complex society. According to Benage, C. E. () student participants on social platforms perceive the medium as an extension of themselves, rather than a separate entity.


Selling oneself is a growing trend, however as noted the personal branding concept goes beyond how one wants to be presented online. Rather the brand is an extension of the characteristics that one holds, and should reflect the offline personality and vice versa – the self-packaging of attributes appropriately to develop synergy across the offline and online brand.



Hood, K. M. Robles, M. Hopkins, C. D. (2015). Personal branding and social media for students in today’s competitive job market. The Journal of Research in Business Education Quarterly, 56(2), 33-47, viewed 11.03.17

Gerrig, R.J. Zimbardo, P.G. (2002) Glossary of Psychological Terms, American Psychology Association, viewed 13.03.17

Goffman, E. (1959) Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life Readings, Pine Forge Press, viewed 10.03.17

Lair, D. J. Sullivan, K. Cheney, G. (2005) Marketization and the Recasting of the Professional Self, Sage Journals, viewed 10.03.17

Newport, C. (2016) Warning: Social media could harm your career (but not the way you think), Australian Financial Review, viewed 10.03.17 <;

Machaz, H.A. Shokoofh, K. (2016, Summer). Personal branding: An essential choice? Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 8(2), 65-70. Viewed 11.03.17











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