Reinventing Your Brand to Relevance

NY Times

My Dad was a huge newspaper reader. If we had a blue recycling box back in my childhood, we would have needed at least two just for all the newspapers we used to get each week. The weekends we had 5-7 to read, depending on when the local and free editions arrived! Naturally it became a bit a family trait and tradition. I still struggle with the electronic versions or todays offerings, nothing quite seems the same.

My favourite time was to sit down on a Sunday and devour page by page The Sunday Times. It was a treasure trove of cutting edge journalism and latest news and weighed about 10 lbs! When I moved to Canada I initially sought it out, but by the time it reached here it was days old and cost half a car payment! I gave up.

Then this year I have had the pleasure of finally discovering a replacement. The New York Times – on a Sunday. It is similar in weightiness – both journalistically and physically!

One of the journalists who came to my attention, albeit sadly briefly, was David Carr. He passed away earlier this month. He wrote on media, an ever changing landscape, even boldly critical of his own publisher, while on the other hand celebrating the fact that the NYTimes generates more revenue from the consumer than advertisers through its paywall.  He was a traditional journalist having to re-invent himself in a new reality of technology driving the news. It appears he embraced and celebrated that without losing his core.


“Any time digital media get a little money—this is true of Huffington Post, true of Vox Media, this is true of BuzzFeed—what they do is they go out and hire journalists.”—David Carr



On his passing, he rose significantly in my estimation, as not just a professional but a class act, or as my friend Dave Howlett would say a Real Human Being. There were a number of moving tributes to his professional abilities, but I liked even more were the insights in to who he was. Honest, hard hitting, respectful of the service industry but also did not suffer fools.  Most of all though was as a professional mentor and ‘friend’ to other journalists, a lesson many other professionals would be wise to follow.  Two very good examples of this were the profiles written by James Bradshaw of The Globe & Mail in December 2014 –   and the other, on his passing, by Molly Hayes a local reporter at the Hamilton Spectator  – they are both well worth a read.

For me these pieces really highlight parts of the foundation of a strong personal brand, such as values, purpose and passions.  As a writer you would expect his bio’s to be well constructed, but again I loved the personal injection in to his brand. This is what he wrote for his visiting professor bio for Boston University.

“Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech.”

Do you think you are living your brand? How do you display it?

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