Someone I know just sent me a really interesting email.

Hi Dave,

I’m doing a “what’s my brand” workshop at NABS, and they’ve asked me to get an external opinion of where I am and what I need to work on.

Please answer the following questions honestly:

1) What are my key strengths and skills?

2) If asked for an opinion on me what would people say?

3) What would you say?

4) Do I have a point of difference/unique selling point?

5) If I was a popular brand what would I be and why?

6) What do you think I could build more on to help define who I am?


I thought that was great, I’d never heard of anything like that before.

Have you ever noticed how people who work in advertising don’t use their advertising skills on themselves?

Copywriters, art directors, account men, planners, marketing experts?

People who spend all day, every day, advising clients on advertising.

People who are experts in building brands.

But they don’t use advertising thinking to build their own brand.

Why is this?

I think it’s what John Webster used to call ‘mimophants’.

The mimosa is the most delicate plant there is, its leaves curl up at the slightest touch.

The elephant is the biggest, clumsiest creature there is.

Put them together you get the ‘mimophant’.

An elephant with other people’s feelings and a mimosa with its own.

Which is why we are all much better at advising other people what to do than we are at taking our own advice.

We can be rational about other people because we are not emotionally involved.

But we are emotionally involved in ourselves and it stops us being able to think and act rationally.

We can be objective about other people, but we remain subjective about ourselves.

It’s easy to act when we’re objective, because we’re logical.

But it’s tough to act when we’re subjective because we’re emotional.

So the best thing is learn to become disentangled with ourselves, to be able to step outside ourselves.

To look at ourselves from the outside.

To treat ourselves like a product.

Rory Sutherland said a very perceptive thing.

“Creative people have a fear of the obvious, yet they must sell their work to people who have a love of the obvious”.

This is because, in a work situation, the creatives are rational and the client is emotional.

The brand they are talking about is the client’s entire job, it’s 100% of their work and income.

But to the creatives it’s one of many brands or products they work on.

It doesn’t consume them the way it consumes the client.

But when it comes to advertising themselves it’s a different story.

Then it is something that consumes them 100%.

Then they are subjective, emotionally involved.

Which is why most advertising people don’t use advertising thinking on themselves.

They curl up with embarrassment at the thought of it.

But if you’re an expert in building brands, it’s a simple question.


Can you walk the talk?