Being a Mascot Led to Building My Personal Brand

By: Timmy Eads

We live in a world that is surrounded by brands. According to an article published by Forbes in 2017, Americans see anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day (Simpson, 2017). Assuming that this number will continue to follow the trends of previous years, we can expect that we are only going to be exposed to more advertisements each year. 

With all of the advertisements that we encounter daily, perhaps none are as important as one brand that often gets overlooked: your personal brand. No, not the type of hot iron brand that ranchers use to mark their cattle. Instead, your personal brand defines who you are. This is the brand that a person must build themselves, and it is only becoming more important for individuals to establish upon entering their professional career – especially in public relations and advertising. 

I first noticed my need for a personal brand when I became the 66th Mountaineer Mascot at West Virginia University. In a sense, the Mountaineer is already branded. The Mountaineer mascot is unlike other mascots, because the Mountaineer’s true identity is exposed to the public constantly. Each individual that dons the buckskins gets to make the experience their own, because the mountaineer is more than a mascot — it’s a person. Being in the position of one of the most recognized individuals in the state, I knew right away that establishing my brand would be essential  to be successful in the role. 

The first piece of advice I received from a former Mountaineer was, “The buckskins only magnify the person you really are.” In other words, if you’re faking it and trying to be someone that you’re not, the people are going to know. The same thing is true about personal brands. In my opinion, being authentic is the most important part of building your brand because people will know if you are faking it. Authenticity in a person shows confidence in who they are, which is the type of person that employers want on their team. 

Another thing I did early on in my year as the Mountaineer was determining how I wanted to be remembered. I wanted as many people, in as many places, to get a piece of the Mountaineer that year. I spent many days traveling to remote areas in the state just so kids who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to see the Mountaineer could. I wanted to spread the Mountaineer spirit anywhere I could. This relates to personal branding, because a person must establish what they want to be known for. Words spread quickly, and if you have a distinct strength, then people are going to remember that (Northeastern, 2019). 

Social media is also becoming a growing necessity for building a strong personal brand.  70% of employers check a candidate’s social media before hiring and 43% check their current employees’ social media (Castrillon, 2019). As the Mountaineer, running accounts with thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram, what I did on social media mattered and reflected WVU. 

Being the Mountaineer without a doubt prepared me for my future in more ways than one, but building my personal brand is something that I will always credit the position for. Serving as the Mountaineer will always be a part of me, and now it’s forever a part of my brand. 

Work Cited

Castrillon, C. (2019, February 12). Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever. Forbes.

Northeastern University Graduate Programs. (2019, January 14). 10 Tips For Building A Personal Brand & Boost Your Career. Northeastern University.

Simpson, J. (2017, August 25). Finding Brand Success In The Digital World. Forbes.

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