COM0011 – Blog 5 – Tattoos as Personal Branding

If you look anywhere on social media, or better yet, have gone outdoors in the area you live within the last twenty years, you may have noticed the increasing popularity of tattoo culture.

It may seem like people are in a huge hurry to permanently alter their appearance in the name of art, but I’m starting to wonder if in this age of personal branding, it might be the ultimate display of branding strategy.

Once reserved for ex-cons who had some jailhouse tats while they were in the big house, now they are visible on the various body parts of so many people, regardless of socio-economic class or age. Traditionally, tattoos held deep cultural meaning and were often a rite of passage or a symbol of rank. These days, they can mean a lot of things, but are commonly accessible in most areas in tattoo shops that specialize in the design and safe application of body modifications.

Part of the allure, aside from the stunningly intricate artwork and color palette emblazoned on your body, is that fact that they were long-held as counter-culture and unseemly. Like most trends, the oppression of a group has created an interest in one of the attributes common to that group, and the expression of the art form has spilled into popular culture.

From afar, tattoos can easily tell you a few things about someone without ever having to communicate with them directly. These things could include their penchant for a certain style of music, cultural affiliations, affection for their loved ones, and so on. This is not unlike personal branding in that it establishes the image a person projects out to the world to differentiate themselves from their competitors and to form alliances based on common interests.

The biggest difference between body art and digital branding as I see it, is that your body art goes everywhere with you and speaks for itself, while your digital branding lives on the internet and requires a measure of engagement to be accessed and appreciated. Perhaps the two elements together can marry the perfect branding: one that’s live and in person, and one that represents all your online and professional activities. A strong personal esthetic has done wonders for well-known personal brands like Lauren Conrad or David Gandy, for example. Social media is filled with people who gained notoriety from their remarkable body art, inciting the idea that anyone can set themselves apart form the crowd with a beautiful tattoo.

2 thoughts on “COM0011 – Blog 5 – Tattoos as Personal Branding

  1. You make a very good point and this is definitely not something I ever considered. I have 7 tattoos myself and always considered them to be a part of who I am a display of that; I don’t feel my online “brand” is dissimilar. But I never thought to connect the two as you have discussed here in your post. It’s a pretty brilliant way of looking at it. If you consider that so much of our own online persona and branding is invested in image, it makes sense that our physical images would match the sort of online image we make for ourselves.

    You mentioned Lauren Conrad as a [great] example of the point you have made. She has kept her brand consistent with her actual image and the two come together as one singular brand. I think obviously some people may be different online than they are in person, but with tattoos you can almost instantly get to know people. I do think however that society has come a long way (even in just recent decades) with accepting body art not only as body art, but as personal, visual expression. We express so much of our daily lives and selves online, so why not through such mediums as body art?

  2. Your blog is very thought provoking and I personally feel it is good idea to mix the art with the brand image. Body art is getting very popular among individuals who have achieved distinction and honor in some field and now society is welcoming the body art.

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