Yesterday I sent my kids to their first day of school. And of course, I posted the obligatory photo on Facebook. Later in the day I looked at the photo again and noticed all the labels on my kids. Out of the ten items they were wearing, eight had a label showing. Four were Adidas and the rest were Nike, Under Armour, Lucky Brand and Fila.
The first day of school photo utterly exemplified the brandification of our kids, and by extension, of ourselves.
Except for athletic wear, labels aren’t quite as blatant for adults as they are for children. Or maybe it just comes in different forms, such as the cars we drive and the technology we own. Maybe I am over-thinking the whole thing and it is not any different than when we were kids wearing a Benetton rugby.
My kids are not too label-conscious, though I admit that I make certain not to buy them items (whether brands or characters) they may have outgrown. They are generally sports-loving kids, so I tend to lean towards those brands for them. With little exception, my kids trust me to fill their closets with items they like to wear. Of course, it should be mentioned they are boys, and there is less of a desire from them to want to shop for their own clothing.
Let me be clear that I’m not saying this brandification bothers me all that much. After all, I bought the items and I like them, (which apparently says something about me as well). As someone who had a career in advertising brands, it just made me curious. Are we really the labels we wear and the products we buy? And if so, what do your labels say about you? Is it what you want them to say about you, who you really are or who you want to be?
You’re thinking about it right now, aren’t you? Do your purchases classify you in one way or another? Do they make a statement of some sort? Do they represent you accurately? Are they contradictory, and if so, is that purposeful?
We have heard a lot in recent years about personal branding, often hearing words such as, “you are your brand.” Since we have to buy items to wear and cars to drive, some piece of our personal brand is also tied to other brands. With social media and photos being published to the world from infancy, personal branding may be starting younger now. After all, this post was spurred on by a photo of elementary school aged kids. Our kids are out there at a substantially younger age now than ever before.
In that moment of looking at the photo of my kids and other children at the bus stop, it hit me that as parents, we play a role in our children’s future personal brands that extends beyond nature or nurture. So in some way may be playing a bigger role than previous generations of parents in launching our child’s personal brand.
Will I do anything differently as a result of this little epiphany? Frankly, I don’t know. As a parent, I think my greatest strength is being in-tune to my kids (because I am certainly no June Cleaver), and that may play well into this particular concept. I have no intention of turning my kids into some sort of brand, but more that I want to be sure that they can look back later and take pride in how they were represented and how they represented themselves on both the inside and the outside.
What do your photos say about you and your family?