What I learnt about Branding and Purpose from Mike Tyson

I spent a week in Las Vegas with Mike Tyson on a game shoot and I learned a lot about branding and purpose.

The first thing to say is that he was gracious and funny in equal parts.  Anyone who has to wear a virtual reality suit (basically a wetsuit with ping pong balls on it) in 40 degree heat needs a sense of humour.  Secondly, he acts with purpose. He is clear that he has done a lot that he regrets and that he doesn’t recognise what he calls the “trained caged animal of his past”, but that he cares deeply about his family and his legacy.

One of my treasured memories is when I was looking through Tyson’s old fight footage as research and the man himself crept up behind me, which is scary enough when you’re not caught red-handed watching him. Mike’s brand was a trademark explosive start, making some of the matches even more memorable for me as a kid. Mike reflected that these fights happened so quickly that they’re almost a blur to him now- a modest comment downplaying his significant impact during those fights.

The most noticeable thing upon meeting Mike now is the tattoo, but that is not his brand. A look through his Instagram shows someone who is proud of what he has achieved but is focused on what he can do for others- and having fun at the same time.

It struck me how a “brand purpose” cannot be about what has been achieved- it has to be about how you act.  That is why any brand that focuses on purpose and all the great things that have been achieved, rather than focusing on living the  values you have set, is going to find themselves on the canvas.

Acting with purpose is a mindset, not a marketing tool.  It’s about the present not the past.