The benefits of an edgy brand

"Holy cow, the opportunity to mess with one of the most recognizable icons on Planet Earth," says Junction Point Creative Director Warren Spector, who's working on the Epic Mickey game.

Epic Mickey could be my new hero.  At the very least, he’s proof that redefining my brand in an edgier way is a good idea.

Here’s the back story.  Disney protects Mickey Mouse like a mother bear protects her cubs…if Mama Bear also had a battalion of lawyers at her beck and call.  But Disney is rethinking this approach…worried that Mickey has evolved from beloved character to corporate symbol, it’s taking the risky step of re-imagining him for the future.

They’ll start the tweaking next year with a video game, Epic Mickey, in which squeaky clean  Mickey shows traits like cunning and irritability — along with being heroic — as he travels a forbidding wasteland.  This is the first step in a bigger project to rethink Mickey’s personality — including the way he appears on the Disney Channel and how our kids interact with him on the Internet — and raise his appeal with edgier tweens and teens.

I’m not equating my brand with Mickey’s but there are some parallels.  I’ve struggled to define my brand as I look for work in an environment where hiring managers seek reasons to eliminate you rather than reasons to hire you.

In my previous job, I was known for my passion and intensity.  I was seen as someone who could get difficult tasks done.  I was once cautioned to keep the “body count” low, although in my defense that had more to do with my willingness to address bureaucracy head-on and my refusal to accept the status quo than it was a view that I had an “anything goes” mentality.

I was once described by MBNA’s chief marketing officer as a “bulldog” to a large group.  She meant it as a compliment.  I was the guy top management asked to fix the issues that came up in those annual “what keeps you awake at night” exercises.

But as I started my job search, I avoided that description.  I went vanilla, because I was worried that “bulldog” traits would cost me interviews and job opportunities.

But as time went on, I realized — thanks to the advice of friends and mentors — that I’d be wasting my time interviewing with companies that would feel my approach wouldn’t fit their culture.  In short, I needed to embrace my “inner bulldog.”

So I named my consulting company Bulldog Management Solutions.  I have built a brand focused on Bulldog Simplicity.  My LinkedIn profile doesn’t dance around the subject.

I’ve probably lost some interviews and consulting jobs.  But it makes it easier to talk about my strengths…and my weaknesses.  The approach hasn’t resulted in a full-time job yet, but I’m convinced that when it does, I’ll be happier and able to demonstrate the passion that has driven my success over the years.

What about you?  Have you taken an “edgier” approach to your personal brand?  If so, what have you done?

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The benefits of an edgy brand

  1. I was sitting in traffic today and watched a teenage skateboarder nail a kick-flip while rolling through an intersection. I said to my wife, “that takes balls. He just risked failing in front of two dozen cars and all of his friends”.

    It takes a certain amount of swagger to risk taking a spill on a public street. And most of the time he won’t land it. But he was willing to take a chance and for that reason he made an impact, however briefly, on everyone who saw him do it. They won’t recall the guy with the laptop satchel or the woman in the gray suit with blue sneakers. They’ll remember the skater kid (obviously the edgier “brand”) who stole the show until the light turned green.

    There’s a reason why many of fashion’s biggest trends start with urban kids taking chances with their own personal brands. While I might be sick of baggy jeans, off-kilter baseball hats, and Rocawear, it’s a billion dollar industry that is highly influential. And, before the trend can be seen in every mall across the country it starts with someone risking a skateboarding trick in a crowded intersection.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s