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Self-Branding as an Element of Job Satisfaction Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2022

Introduction

Self-branding, commonly referred to as personal branding, is a crucial conceptualization in management science, marketing, sociology, psychology, and organizational behaviors. It emerged as a strategy to achieve career and financial success in project-based work structures and other employment systems (Speering, 2018). Personal branding triggers job satisfaction by increasing an individual’s perceived employability and social capital. However, despite its benefits, self-branding can have negative repercussions on an individual’s well-being. This paper supports the notion that self-branding is an opportunity for young people to enhance effective leadership, job satisfaction, and professional outcomes; it provides the rationale and examples that reinforce this argument.

Position 1: Self-Branding as an Element of Job Satisfaction and Effectual Leadership

The notion of personal branding can affect one’s work in a variety of ways. Self-branding is a crucial predictor of job satisfaction and effective leadership. A study conducted by Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova (2019) revealed self-branding’s efficacy in enhancing job satisfaction and performance. Job gratification is the degree or extent to which an individual finds meaning or significance in their work. The mechanism through which self-branding promotes this concept is by inspiring self-realization (Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova, 2019). This conceptualization refers to an individual’s consciousness or awareness of pertinent values and beliefs through reflection. This stance is supported by a survey by Trofimov et al. (2017), which showed that self-realization promotes job fulfillment and commitment. Developing a brand involves the following process: identifying key competency areas, examining individual standards and values, and defining one’s style.

The successful completion of this above procedure plays an instrumental role in improving one’s understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, preferences, and what professionally appeals to the individual. According to Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova (2019), the self-realization concept helps young professionals to pursue career goals that they find meaningful, which consequently enhances job contentment. This notion reflects the Aristotelian view that meaningful work is obtained where there is a possibility of pursuing goods and values that are inherent to a person’s life (Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova, 2019). Therefore, self-branding is an opportunity for young professionals to discover their self-identity, values, beliefs, and career goals.

The connection between perceived employability and personal branding also exists. Perceived employability relates to distinguishing and taking advantage of existing career opportunities. According to Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova (2019), this conceptualization mediates the relationship between increased job satisfaction and personal branding. Research further indicates that career fulfillment is an outcome of a strong perception of professional identity and career adaptability. Furthermore, it can be argued that individuals involved in personal branding have significant social capital levels (Lidman & Romell, 2019). These individuals typically convey their value proposition by informing others of their successes. Social capital triggers job satisfaction by fostering access to resources, information, and sponsorships.

In regards to other personal qualities, it can be said that personal branding is a large component of becoming a qualified leader. The benefit of self-branding among young professionals is based on the argument that it promotes critical leadership skills. A study conducted by Caldwell and Hayes (2016) demonstrated that self-awareness (self-realization) is a vital leadership proficiency. The researchers identified this conceptualization as a moral obligation of every leader. Self-awareness or realization helps leaders unlock their potential, which can be self-empowering, not just to managers but also to organizational members (Caldwell and Hayes, 2016). Leaders who adopt this concept typically recognize and understand their biases, weakness, and strengths that they can use to influence people in the organization.

Example of How Self-Branding Promotes Job Satisfaction

Self-branding can not only be used for work benefits, but also for improving one’s satisfaction with their job. One hundred and ninety-five employee supervisors were surveyed to determine the effect of self-promotional activities on their job satisfaction levels. The researchers, in collaboration with their respective organizations, established a one-year salary adjustment as an incentive approach for improved task performance. Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova (2018) observed that workers who engaged in self-promotional activities exhibited greater job satisfaction than those who did not adopt such behaviors. Team members who participated in self-promotion activities were also focused more on their impressions and self-presentation behaviors. By focusing on the above concepts, the workers assumed control over their jobs.

Opposing Argument

The mechanism through which self-branding promotes job satisfaction and effective leadership also encourages distorted self-image. Poor self-image triggered by self-branding is two-fold: it causes self-grandiosity and low self-esteem (Khamis, Ang, and Welling, 2016). This claim is based on the self-consciousness and psychodrama processes that arise from an individual’s self-awareness during social interactions. According to Martela and Pessi (2018), an individual’s sense of contribution to society can strengthen their self-image and self-worth. Cognitive constructs and emotional and mental development during social interactions influence ones’ perception of self. Two mechanisms underlie the formation of an individual self-image in social interactions: unification and individuation (Martela and Pessi, 2018). Consolidation refers to the psychological need to belong to a given social group. When individuals feel disconnected from the above-mentioned setting, a sense of alienation emerges. On the other hand, individuation relates to the psychological need to have a unique identity in a specific faction. It refers to an individual’s self-image and value ascribed to their gender, age, and attitudes towards their responsibility and contribution to society.

Therefore, depending on their experiences and feedback associated with their brands, individuals will form a self-image. People with a positive self-brand may feel good about their social and professional status due to the benefits related to their self-image. Unfortunately, the same may not apply to individuals with a negative or weak brand image. Individuals who lack glorified elements such as physical attractiveness, ideal weight, romantic relationships, and ‘good living’ can develop a negative attitude towards self. Young people tend to attach significance to their work and experiences, and distorted meanings can result in severe psychological or mental health issues such as depression and suicide (Martela and Pessi, 2018). Therefore, this population segment who places significance on belonging to a group may feel alienated when they fail to complement their peers’ expectations on social media. Failure to fit into these social standards may initiate low self-esteem or personal image.

Within the same context, self-branding critics have also asserted that this concept promotes narcissism. For instance, a study conducted by Khamis, Ang, and Welling (2016) indicated that self-branding encourages young people to focus on artificial and shallow external images rather than actual intrinsic achievements. Individuals under this population segment typically think that perfect looks, good living, and consumption warrant emulation and adoration (Khamis, Ang, and Welling, 2016). For this reason, many youths attempt to build a positive brand image by sharing artful photos that promote the ‘good living’ message as a gateway to popularity. Some attach meaning to virtual relationships – feedback from fans while others flaunt superficial things such as wealth to create or maintain a narrative that enhances their brand image. These behaviors are characteristic of false grandiosity and narcissism. Narcissism is a pervasive self-presentation of grandiosity and an exaggerated perception of self-importance.

Self-conceited individuals create and pursue narratives that promote their public glory or self-magnified perception. Self-branding requires a constant narrative that fosters a particular image. The ancient dramaturgical (impression-management) perspective of personal branding involved managing one’s self-presentation during social interactions to maintain an impression and influence others (Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova, 2018). Diaries preceded websites and blogs, scrapbooks preceded Facebook, and photo albums preceded Instagram. Traditionally, people used diaries, scrapbooks, and photo albums to share information that would influence their peers and friends (Khamis, Ang, and Welling, 2016). In the modern world, individuals try to establish personal brands through social media to influence their career and business prospects. However, in the wake of social media, digital platforms, and business environments have become saturated with self-branding content. For this reason, the economy of attention-seeking became heightened and imperative for success in the branding market (Khamis, Ang, and Welling, 2016). This economy provided fertile grounds that promote and celebrate narcissistic behavior by encouraging high grandiosity.

An example of narcissistic behavior encouraged by self-branding ideology was illustrated by a 23-year old Australian food blogger called Belle Gibson. She became famous for claiming that she had cured her terminal brain cancer by changing her diet and lifestyle. Later, it was revealed that the blogger was lying about having terminal cancer (Martela and Pessi, 2018). However, by the time she was exposed, Gibson had managed to create an influential brand name called The Whole Pantry that had managed to secure a book and phone app deal.

Position 2: Improves Professional and Financial Outcomes

Central to self-branding is the notion that an individual with a positive brand image can gain significant financial benefits. A study conducted by Abrate and Viglia (2017) discovered that personal brands had more influence on consumers than product earmarks. Individuals with a strong reputation were able to exploit their reputational position to maximize product or service revenues. The survey attributed the revenue-related success to the trust assigned to the person by consumers (Abrate and Viglia, 2017). Individuals, especially those working in digital markets, can use their influence or connection with a target audience to seek preferential treatment against their competitors. According to Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova (2018), organizations are currently incentivizing individuals operating in shared economies to apply reputation mechanisms to increase the likelihood of making transactions. Shared economies are market systems where individuals have a single platform to sell or market their product services. In this regard, it can be surmised that a positive brand image can help young professionals to generate revenues and drive sales in shared market systems.

Self-branding is also a social capital that can help one navigate through unemployment uncertainty. Social capitals are resources such as networks, the connection that can influence a group of people. In self-branding, a positive reputation or personal image is social capital (Gandini, 2015). The increase in portfolio careers, coupled with the unemployment uncertainty, a characteristic of the current labor market, has led to an increased need for personal branding (Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova, 2018). Mediated by social media, self-branding has become a social tool that can curate a professional image and social relationships. An individual’s physical appearance is a crucial brand-image element that can influence an individual’s career prospects and visibility. Various studies have shown that Instagram photos, youtube videos, and portfolios LinkedIn profile pictures improved ones’ career prospects. Personal branding in the modern world requires requisite skills to effectively position oneself in a specific field, industry, or organization.

An Example of How Self-Branding Improves Professional and Financial Outcomes

YouTubers often rely on the support of their target audience or fans to promote products. If a Youtuber has a positive relationship or influence on their target audience (social capital), they are likely to materialize this support into a monetary benefit. For example, Olayinka Williams Olatunji, a popular YouTuber, has managed to build a personal brand image by filming himself and rapping. He has over 20.8 million subscribers and a net worth of approximately £16million (Elsom, 2019). Williams has managed to build his wealth by sharing videos of his hobbies with followers. Therefore, a person can make investments in social relationships with the hope of acquiring a valuable reputation. According to Gorbatov, Khapova, and Lysova (2018), Effective brand positioning requires effective gesturing or expression of one’s person’s cultural and social capital. Investing in social relationships involves nurturing characteristics or attributes that appeal to a particular group.

Counter Argument

The critics of self-branding financial benefits posit that this concept promotes a neoliberal economy. According to Khamis, Ang, and Welling (2016), self-branding promotes neoliberalism by commodifying individuals. According to Khamis, Ang, and Welling (2016), this neoliberal belief system has permeated therapy, social work, marketing, and education system that promote self-branding as a life-changing skill that can enhance one’s success in social markets. The problem with neoliberalism is that it prioritizes economic incentives over cultural norms and private entrepreneurship over collective action and responsibility (Rodrik, 2017). It promotes the idea that people are factories that can be monetized and, therefore, are responsible for their success and failure in the market. In this accord, it can be argued that, because self-branding promotes the pursuit of profit over social values, it has contributed to the degeneration of morality.

The Relevance of Self-Branding in The Modern World

Self-branding is relevant in modern-day society because it significantly influences cultural norms. According to Khamis, Ang, and Welling (2016), self-branding is promoted as a life-changing skill that can enhance ones’ success in various disciplines, including therapy, social work, marketing, and the education system. From a cultural perspective, this concept encourages the “inst-fame” culture, a breeding ground for self-centered habits and low self-image behaviors. Considering that social work promotes this culture, I can raise awareness of the negative repercussions associated with the concept and encourage the implementation of strategies that promote mental health to improve individuals’ overall health. Some of these approaches include mindfulness setting realistic goals, learning new skills that aim to improve self-esteem and confidence, and engaging in physical activity.

Conclusion

The benefit of self-branding among young professionals is twofold: it enhances professional outcomes and financial outcomes. For instance, this concept increases career visibility and fosters leadership skills, job satisfaction, and an individual’s economic standing. Personal branding also increases career satisfaction levels through perceived employability. It has been linked to significant social capital levels, which trigger job fulfillment by fostering access to resources, information, and sponsorships. Self-branding can also contribute to negative mental health issues such as narcissism and low self-esteem. However, these negative consequences do not lie in the conceptualization but in the economic and social processes that accommodate and reward these negative behaviors. Self-branding practices emphasize neoliberalism that encourages financial incentives and profits over social values. To help balance the benefits and harms of self-branding, I can educate the public on the risks of self-promotional activities on their mental health as well as the strategies to promote their psychological well-being.

Reference List

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Gorbatov, S., Khapova, S.N. and Lysova, E.I. (2019) ‘Get noticed to get ahead: the impact of personal branding on career success’, Frontiers in Psychology, 10, pp. 1–13. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02662

Khamis, S., Ang, L. and Welling, R. (2016) ‘Self-branding, ‘micro-celebrity’ and the rise of social media influencers’, Celebrity Studies, 8(2), pp. 191–208. doi: 10.1080/19392397.2016.12182922

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