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Me, my selfie and I: how selfie culture is fuelling our identity crisis

In just a matter of weeks, the shape of Britain could be looking very different. Come the 18 September, our residents of Scotland will either vote to stick with trusty Britannia or opt to go it alone into a brave, new independent world.

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Either way, identity – whether national, personal or a deeper sense of where, and to whom, we belong – will be in sharp focus for some months to come.

As Moss Bros marketer Jemima Bird says, a "No" vote could be the shot in the arm "Brand Britain" needs. After a glorious summer, aka 2012, we’ve had something of a long winter. But Bird believes that a vote to stay would remind us "how Great we really are".

On the flip side, Viki Cooke of Britain Thinks believes that the very concept of Brand Britain is on the wane, largely due to a view of a London-centric elite running the country.

Our sense of who we are is, arguably, more fractured than ever. For that reason our September issue of Marketing is themed around identity.

Never has an individual’s identity been so hard to pin down by marketers. We have a flood of data, but struggle to identify a single view of a customer.

Social media offers an insight into your consumers’ personal lives like never before. However, along comes the smartphone selfie phenomenon and our news feeds are awash with different editions of everyone we know.

Selfies, or rather advances in technology, just bring the identity issue into sharp #nofilter focus

In our cover feature, we take a closer look at how the selfie culture is fuelling our identity crisis. Even the most self-assured among us have always presented different versions of ourselves to suit situations. However, the photo craze seems to have taken identity "sharding" to a whole new level.

Of course, the question for marketers is, do you really know your consumer? The image of ourselves is now publicly confused, and often at odds with what’s truly going on inside our brains.

Perhaps, as Helen Edwards says, you don’t actually need to aim at the bullseye for your ideal consumer. Instead, off-target marketing could be the sweet spot to hit, aiming a little off-centre to take in our multiple possible selves.

Here’s another suggestion, from contributor Will Harris, that turns received wisdom on his head: a deliberately multi-personality brand to shake things up – a brand with multiple identities, logo designs and sets of values.

Harris believes that scenario, brave and risky as it may seem, is coming.

We are constantly grappling with our sense of identity; it is always evolving and subject to myriad influences, from national votes to far more introspective measures. Selfies, or rather advances in technology, just bring the issue into sharp #nofilter focus.

This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk

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