Mike's random thoughts and ramblings

A Branding MAD Lib

As a new year begins, I always spend a bunch of time pondering my past, my future, and where I'm going. A big part of that is branding and positioning - who am I, and what problem do I want the people in my life to have when they think of only of me.

This year, I have a different situation - in all of my endeavours (MAD Security, The Hacker Aacademy, Information Security Leaders), I have partners. I can't just think of where I want to go all by myself - I'm reliant on other minds to co-develop and agree to the direction we're taking.

So, I came up with a rather simple way of thinking about positioning, direction and vision: a simple MAD lib:

(I / {name of entity}) am/is/are the best (name of primary activity) in the (geographic region / location / entity) . (I / {name of entity}) am/is/are also quite good at (name of secondary activity) .

You'll know that you have a real brand statement when you can have an independent third-party read the statement that you have prepared and agree that it is (or could be) true.

The key to the exercise is to resist the temptation to have more than one primary activities (or to make the activity overly broad) - a brand statement is about your unique differentiator. You may truly be good at multiple things, but you can only really be known as the best at one thing. And the more precise and specific you are about your brand statement, the more likely it is to reflect some amount of truth.

(As a note: the second "is also quite good at" is optional, but left there because lots of people have secondary skills that they are known for as well)

An example... a not-so-good brand-madlib:

Michael Vick is the best quarterback in the NFL . Michael Vick is also quite good at being contrite for his past wrongs. .

It's not so good because there's some amount of argument whether Michael Vick is the best quarterback in the NFL. At the very least, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady might have something to say about it. Now, this one, I don't think anybody could disagree with:

Michael Vick is the best dual-threat running/passing quarterback in the NFL . Michael Vick is also quite good at raising pit-bull puppies. . (Yes, that was a low blow...)

In fact, that one's so good that if you removed Michael Vick's name, most people would still know who the statement referred to.

So... what's the brand MAD lib for your company? How about your own personal MAD lib?

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Michael Murray

Michael Murray