By Rob Longert
Identity is malleable, semi-permanent and dictated by
our experiences and how they shape us. We’re constantly
defining our identities by simply being out in the world,
experiencing things and living life. Sometimes by choice,
other times by chance.
In the 2015 APA Handbook of Personality and Social
Psychology (by way of The Atlantic), Dan McAdams,
a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology
at Northwestern University noted that “Life stories do
not simply reflect personality. They are personality, or
more accurately, they are important parts of personalty, along with other parts, like dispositional traits, goals,
Life’s moments continue to evolve and further our personal stories. We all have a story or narrative we’ve created about ourselves — here’s a glimpse into mine:
I grew up in Brooklyn, so I identify as a Brooklynite. I
ran four marathons and a handful of half marathons, so
in my eyes, that makes me a runner. My parents worked
extremely hard, day-in and day-out, so I followed in their
footsteps and that’s a key part of my story too. I own a
Peloton bike, so apparently, that means I am a cyclist.
Our identities though, go beyond our narratives. Beyond
our personalities. They make us authentically relatable
to others and encourage connection to communities of
people with whom we share commonalities.
In a split second two-and-a-half years ago, I had an
identity-changing moment in my personal narrative. I
went from “just a dude” to “a dad.” My wife Alissa and I
went into the delivery room with a certain identity and
in mere moments, we were changed by the birth of our
son, Maxwell. Our narratives and identities would never
be the same now, as new parents.
We are part of a community of parents (and specifically
for us, parents who experienced having a baby prematurely) and instantaneously identified with our parent
peers. Who we are, our priorities and our identities will
be forever changed as “mama” and “dada.”
The community aspect of identity is fascinating. It ties
directly into what we do as professional communicators.
We know first-hand, that communities make it possible
to embrace identities and brands can facilitate that sense
of community by bringing like-minded people together.
More and more, we’re seeing how technology helps
facilitate the formation of those communities, as well.
Take an active Facebook group (Facebook is a client
of Day One Agency) like Dragon Dads, a group of dads
who have LGBT children. The commonalities in their
identities and simply wanting to show love and support
to their children bring them together to share their
experiences on Facebook and offline, as well.
As you read through our Identity Issue as a marketer,
think about all of the potential identities that are in your
brand’s or client’s audience and look for the commonalities within them that can help drive community. It
will always go back to the importance of relationships,
knowing your audience, being accepting and aware
of different identities and acting transparently.
And much like a human, a brand’s multifaceted story
makes up its identity.
As you read through our Identity Issue as a person,
remember that your personal narrative, the choices you
make, the communities you’re part of is open-ended. It’s
not set in stone and it can change at the drop of a hat,
both by choice and by chance. But despite the day-to-day
(and sometimes tumultuous) news cycle, we’re living in a
time that values openness when it comes to identity, and
there’s always somewhere to turn to find acceptance.