December 19, 2022 3 min read

Emotion Drives Branding 

My career began as a TV producer until I was called into my boss’s office one day and told, “I have good news and bad news.” The good news was I was being promoted. The bad news was our only sponsor pulled out, so I had to re-brand the entire show. This was the beginning of a 20+ year passion for brand and marketing. One thing I love about marketing is the reasoning behind the decisions we make. In my opinion, emotion drives branding and marketing, and I love how our feelings have so much influence over the decision we make and what we do.

Curiosity and Critical Thinking

Above everything else, the values I believe are essential for young marketers to develop include a healthy curiosity, critical thinking and the ability to ask why and how. Marketing isn't a profession where there are right and wrong answers - just best practices. What works today could completely flop tomorrow. That's why it's so important that young marketers entering the profession can read between the lines and make assumptions based on limited and sometimes incomplete information. The ability to tell a story based on what you know or think could be the difference between someone who excels in the field and someone who needs more time to reach that goal.

Challenges I Faced

One of the challenges I faced stemmed from being a television show producer without the title and experience, proving I could handle a marketing role. To overcome this challenge, I researched the hiring manager for each position and designed compelling packages for each one. When I applied for a job at Mattel, a well-known American multinational toy manufacturing company, I created a Hot Wheels car with packaging, which worked!

Knowledge and Beliefs

Consumer attention spans continually get shorter, while the desire to connect with brands continues to grow. This is a bit of a contradiction because people don’t have much patience to hear from brands but still want to communicate with them. Ultimately, brands have an opportunity to go beyond traditional sales tactics and develop a community that shows the brand shares the consumers’ values. In my opinion, as an owner of an agency, we need to go further and win clients by offering not only what we know, but what we believe. Those with like-minded values will appreciate what they’re hearing and will want to work together.

Proud and Delighted

At this point, I’m very proud of the employees who have come through Brand Heroes’ doors over the years. Oddly enough, we have an exciting trend of former employees sticking around as consultants and freelancers. While I’m always sorry to see great people move on, I love seeing the careers they’ve built when they do. Brand Heroes began as a university project, and our alum has joined some of the largest brands in the world. I’m incredibly proud and delighted to have played some small part in developing incredible people.

Building Relationships and Business

I love what I do, and I love building brands. I started an agency during the 2008 recession, and it continued to grow during the pandemic. I truly believe that economic downturns are phenomenal times to start and grow businesses. The big reason is that all bets are off during a recession and legacy relationships go out the window. So, the playing field gets levelled, and there’s a beautiful opportunity to build relationships and business.

Create Your Opportunity

In my opinion, find the opportunity you want, even if you need to create it. Marketing jobs are so high in demand that, as a leader, I respect students researching my company and telling me what they think I need. I love the hunger and have personally hired many people who have taken the time to put their thoughts down on paper. This advice ties back to the essential traits of curiosity and critical thinking. To me, curiosity means hunger. When I see curiosity as an employer, I feel confident that these employees will always be able to hit the ground running and succeed in the tasks I give them. Marketing students must be hungry, curious, and willing to seek opportunities instead of waiting for them. Figure out where you want to work and what you want to do. If you do, you’ll create the opportunities you want and impress your bosses in the process.

Mike Leon



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