Dave Murray

Personal Branding in Ann Arbor

Personal Branding in Ann Arbor

I love Ann Arbor

I mean sure, it has its problems – For instance, Ann Arbor was voted the most educated city in the United States in 2015. Wait, how’s that a problem? Well, ya see, what that study really said is that people in A2 stayed in school for a really long time. And, when your job is to build brands around entrepreneurs, when many of the most successful ones in history didn’t graduate from college or even high school, that doesn’t impress one all that much.

Then there’s Plymouth Road, where there are blinking yellow lights that are supposed to mean “stop.” And while we all know yellow lights – even the blinking kind – are supposed to mean “caution” or “slow down,” in reality, we all know they really mean, “Hurry so we don’t have to stop!” Hooray for staying in school a really long time, A2 denizens!

And finally, there’s the reputation Ann Arbor has outside her fair limits – a reputation of snobbery. I have to say, I’ve lived here for over nine years, and have yet to come across that. Of course, I’m classically unobservant, so a lot of people have said I probably just don’t notice when people are being snobs. I certainly make room for that scenario – but the fact remains, I haven’t noticed untold snobification.

“Wait, I thought this guy said he loves Ann Arbor?”

Before I go on, I’d be remiss not to mention this blog post was suggested by our social media queen, Stefanie Mitchell – Twitter: @stefcherelle – who sent me an email that read, “Write something like this about Ann Arbor.” “This” is a Forbes article entitled “9 Personal Branding Reasons to Love New York.”


And so I was gonna write something similar, talking about A2’s young professionals and tech scenes. I was gonna write about networking and my firm belief that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere – thus borrowing from the aforementioned article and proving NYC’s just a proving ground for Ann Arbor. Heh heh.

But I’m not gonna do that. Instead, I’m gonna tell you why I love Ann Arbor – with a personal branding twist, of course. Because it’s actually very personal to me.

Mayniax Branding - Red Glasses and The Cube - a match made in A2!

Growing up in Jackson, Michigan

Yours truly, along with my sister, parents, Hortence and Sniffy – our two cats – moved to Jackson when I was nine. And I was mad! You see, mom and dad had done a lot of research on area schools, and decided to enroll me in Catholic school. I, of course, had no idea what that meant, but I do know that – to this day – I hate navy blue pants. I was mad because I had no idea what Catholic school was, I just knew I’d always gone to regular schools in California and Nevada, prior to moving to Jackson.

I attended Catholic schools in Jackson from the middle of fourth grade through senior year. And I gotta tell ya, while it was never explicitly stated, there was an underlying message: love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

Now before I go on, I wanna say that I got along with everyone. I was – and obviously still am – insanely short, but that wasn’t enough to raise the ire of my classmates. I was, after all, a straight white kid.

In fifth grade, I had to stop a fight because a heavy kid was about to get beat up – in front of a throng of parents.

In high school, more kids sold drugs than we had kids who weren’t white.

Also in high school, a girl committed suicide because she was mercilessly teased for the “sin” of being gay.

Love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

I was lucky to get out of there still being the man my parents taught me to be, but I still fight those with that “love thy neighbor unless they’re different” mentality.

Who Wants a Throwdown?

I argue with people whose asinine beliefs say simply being gay is a sin. How exactly? They’re just out there doing their thing like everyone else. Besides, I’m pretty sure whichever deity’s actually in charge is shaking his head saying, “How the crap could you think I meant that’s a sin!?!” And then he goes to get drunk on whiskey before realizing he created a place where even he can’t get drunk. D’oh!

Love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

And I’m absolutely speechless whenever I encounter racists. Seriously, they make me so mad I can’t even speak. Not to mention I’m in awe of the sheer stupidity required to be a racist. To be a racist, you have to hate just to hate. And have the I.Q. of a dead earthworm, of course. I saw too much of it growing up, and encounter it nearly every time I’m in a rural area. And I simply don’t get it. I never have. And I never will.

Love thy neighbor unless they’re different.

My friend, Chris – Twitter: @radiohostchris – who will be helping us launch a podcast in the next couple months, used to work in Farmington. He told me whenever he’d go for a walk and say hi to a little old lady, she’d just look away and hurry passed him. “But whenever I’m walking around Ann Arbor, if I ask a little old lady how she’s doing, she’ll say, ‘I’m fine, young man. How are you?’”

Mayniax Branding - Chris Lee Potcaster Extraordinaire and Lover of Our Logo

I’m not one who likes the words “tolerance” and “acceptance” – I think they denote having to put up with something. But Ann Arbor, in spite of the problems I mentioned at the beginning of this post, doesn’t seem like it’s accepting or tolerating anything. Instead, it seems to be welcoming, even embracing, everyone.

And Ann Arbor’s not just about embracing people for things they can’t – nor should they want to – control. Nope, Ann Arbor’s gonna welcome the weirdest, craziest people they can find. Hell, Ann Arbor welcomed me! And no one bats an eye when I walk around downtown with a red t-shirt and red Chucks. Because Ann Arbor doesn’t care. Ann Arbor’s cool with ya just being you. And that’s the greatest thing ever for a personal brand – told ya I’d get there.

Mayniax Branding - The Michigan and State Theatres

Your personal brand is simply who you are. And when you’re in an environment that won’t judge you for being that, you actually get to BE who you are. I never felt like I could truly be me in Jackson. There was too much I didn’t like about my experiences there. Too much “love thy neighbor unless they’re different.” Ann Arbor’s not perfect, and I’m not ignorant enough to think racism, homophobia – not to mention a whole lot of other judgment – doesn’t exist here, but I don’t know anyone who would use those words to describe it.

So why do I love Ann Arbor? Easy: I get to be me. And there’s nothing cooler for a person, or a personal brand.

So sayeth King Dave of Ann Arbor!

Dave Murray Mayniax Branding King Dave of Ann Arbor 2

Stay gutsy!

If you’re looking for branding help in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area, feel free to get a hold of us at And don’t forget to visit our About page, just to see if you’d wanna work with us, anyway.

Oh, and you should probably fill your coffee cup. It’s getting low.

Dave Murray

Dave’s Talking Branding on March 8th!

Dave’s Talking Branding on March 8th!

My name’s Dave Murray, and I’m an incorrigible smartass. But I take branding very seriously.

Dave Murray Mayniax Branding Incorrigible Smartass

As The Big Guy at Mayniax Branding, I believe the world’s broken, and entrepreneurs are the only ones who can fix it. But, if no one cares about their brands, those entrepreneurs will never have that chance. That’s why I do what I do. And that’s why Mayniax Branding does what it does.

Also as The Big Guy at Mayniax Branding, I’m constantly having to teach gutsy entrepreneurs the immense importance of telling the world why they got into the entrepreneurship game in the first place. They fight it. They resist it. They tell me I’m full of things unsuitable for typing on the interwebz.

And then their businesses don’t grow.

Mayniax Branding believes your "why" leads to your passion, which leads to your mission, which leads to your culture.

For pre-gaming purposes, read Your Brand’s “Why” & Meppy Chriswanzukah! You’ll see why we think the, well, “why” is so important. Plus, you’ll get a happy little image of Vanessa and I being, well, Vanessa and I during the 2015 Chriswanzukah season.

Personal Branding

I’m also gonna talk a little bit about personal branding, how I got to be King Dave of Ann Arbor, and how to figure out your own personal brand. Hint: It’s a whole lot easier than you think. It’ll be slightly more in-depth than my last blog post: Let’s Talk Personal Branding, but reading that’s a good warm-up.

Dave Murray Mayniax Branding King Dave of Ann Arbor 2

What You’ll Learn

1. The three reasons your why is so important, and the two whys that don’t cut it.
2. The best way to structure your elevator pitch, using your personal brand.
3. Whatever my weird brain thinks of on March 8th

Details Galore!

What: Ann Arbor Connectors’ Club Lunch and Learn – Personal Branding and Communicating Your “Why”
When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 • 11:15 am – 1:00 pm
Where: Buffalo Wild Wings • 3150 Boardwalk Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
What you need: Lunch money! And pants. Or not. I don’t judge.

So plug March 8th into your phones, and get there early, as seating is extremely limited. And hey, while you’re there, enjoy some wings and beer. Unless you’re a vegetarian. Then you’ll probably just want the beer.

Stay gutsy, gang!

Dave Murray

Let’s Talk Personal Branding

Let’s Talk Personal Branding

It was suggested I write a post on personal branding by our social media expert, Stefanie Mitchell (@StefCherelle_), of S. Mitchell Marketing. And because I know enough to surround myself with people smarter than me, I said, “Yes ma’am.” So hey, here it is!

King Dave of Ann Arbor

dave murray mayniax branding king dave of ann arbor

For years, I’ve called myself King Dave of Ann Arbor. And, while it’s true I love Treetown, the origin of that self-proclaimed title isn’t exactly a heartfelt one. You see, to put it delicately, I like pushing buttons.

One day, I was sitting at Conor O’Neill’s with a woman I was interested in. She asked me a question about the area and, knowing the answer, I responded immediately. She looked at me almost bewildered and asked, “How do you know so much about Ann Arbor?” Knowing it would push her buttons, and not in a good way, I replied, “Because I’m the king of Ann Arbor.”

Clearly my flirting game needs help.

What started as a button-pushing joke has turned into a six-year personal branding experiment. And it’s been pretty successful. It’s been so successful in fact, that I gave a talk last year where someone asked if I wanted to be the mayor of Ann Arbor. About half the room answered for me, “Why would he want to be the mayor when he’s already the king?” It was enough to make an egomaniac proud.

Maybe Wiki and Forbes Know What’s Up

According to Wikipedia, “Personal Branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.”

Is it me, or does “self-packaging” sound like a gimmick? Are you a gimmick? Because in the end, your personal brand is, well, you.

Forbes did better with 7 Things You Can Do To Build An Awesome Personal Brand. The ideas are good, with my only real complaint being the heading of the seventh thing: Reinvent. The description under reinvent is great, but the title makes you think of just forgetting everything about yourself and starting over. And that’s kind of the opposite of a personal brand.

Still, I think The Forbes article’s too complicated.

I think a personal brand is all about being yourself. It’s all about authenticity.

Your Personal Brand Must be Authentically You

mayniax branding brand authenticity

“The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.” -Simon Mainwaring

Make no mistake – to be a great entrepreneur, and to build a great business, you must be authentic. You must be true to yourself. In fact, we demand authenticity out of our clients, because we know the businesses we build around them won’t be nearly as successful without it.

Let’s talk about me some more, since I’m such a fascinating individual. Stop rolling your eyes! *ahem*

I’m a smartass. I don’t hide it. It’s a fundamental part of who I am. I also give a damn. Specifically, I give a damn about helping you, the entrepreneurs of the world. I live and work primarily in Ann Arbor, and I know branding. I also make no bones about the fact my idiocy grows exponentially the further away from the topic of branding I get.

Now let’s talk about Mayniax Branding.

It’s a smartass. It doesn’t hide it. It’s a fundamental part of who Mayniax Branding is. It also gives a damn. Specifically, Mayniax Branding gives a damn about helping you, the entrepreneurs of the world. It’s based in Ann Arbor, and knows branding. And it knows brand strategy well enough to know its only focus should be on branding.

You see what I did there?

Figuring Out Your Personal Brand

A personal brand isn’t difficult. It really is, simply, who you actually are. The trick is, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, figuring out who you actually are, then finding something you love to do that aligns with that.

I told you I’m a smartass with a fundamental need to help entrepreneurs, and branding is the way I do that. That’s my personal brand in its simplest form. So, use that as an template, and come up with a basic description of who you are fundamentally, along with a list of things you’re passionate about. And when you get that done, you’ll have your personal brand.

Once you have your personal brand, all you have to do is keep it consistent, and simple, across the board. Easy, right? Seriously, almost everyone out there makes things far more complicated than they are. And that makes them bad, bad people.

So sayeth King Dave of Ann Arbor!

Dave Murray Mayniax Branding King Dave of Ann Arbor 2

Stay gutsy, gang!