My 28 year old son recently tried to get a mobile phone on a plan, and couldn’t, he did not have a credit rating. A bit unusual perhaps, but this is a young bloke who has been a self-funded student for a long time, always paid his bills, always met all his commitments, financial and otherwise, a far better bet than most that his mobile bill would be paid. Now graduated, he wanted to start being “normal” as he put it.
“Personal brand” is a term increasingly bandied around as we build an identity underpinned by on-line behavior. Headhunters are increasingly using it as they seek to find the best fit for roles they are filling, so are looking to social media as a behavioral metaphor for actual behavior in a workplace.
But it is going much further, much quicker than anyone anticipated.
The reputation you build in one place will be increasingly transferrable to another. Why shouldn’t your hard earned EBay and Amazon rating be considered when you want to rent a car or flat, borrow some money, or even take on a simple phone plan?
Collaborative consumption is a term coined by Rachael Botsman to describe the evolution of behavior made possible by the removal of the transactional friction we are used to by the collaborative capacity of the internet. We can now rent someone’s home on airbnb, raise venture capital on Kickstarter, share a car on GoGet, get the chores done by taskrabbit, and find thousands of other potential partners in peer to peer transactions that were impossible just a few years ago. In these circumstances, your reputation, your brand, is as good as money, just different, it has a value that others will consider in an exchange, and decide if they will proceed.
In this emerging digital economy trust is everything, trust between strangers a necessity for these types of collaborative consumption transactions. It follows then that we need a mechanism to replace the face to face interaction that through human history has built trust because you can see the whites of the other parties eyes, and make a very personal judgement about them.
Your reputation, the sum of all your behavior, will increasingly become manageable and transferable across platforms, and act as currency.