Your story is your brand


By Mike Gugat

On the second Friday of December, we welcomed our son into the world.  Everyone said it would be a life-altering event. When I heard them say that, it didn’t really resonate with me until I heard him cry for the first time as the nurses swept him away to NICU and my wife was sedated to stop her bleeding. It's not that I hadn't thought of being a father, it's just that you cannot describe the gravity of the emotions you feel, emotions that were compounded by the medical risk faced by the woman I couldn't live without. My wife lost a significant amount of blood during her C-section, which then made it difficult for our son to regulate his breathing.

As my wife recovered faster than the doctors expected, our son took an extra day in special care to adjust to his new surroundings. Like his Mother, he was he was unbelievably resilient and defied the doctors’ expectations.  By Saturday evening, we were informed he’d be joining us in our hospital room Sunday afternoon if all his tests came back okay. That gave us less than 24 hours to name him.  We had quite a few names picked out but wanted to meet this little person before we settled on one.

After visiting him nearly every hour on the hour in special care and getting reports from the nurses, we felt like we knew him well enough to give him a name.  We landed on a first name meaning gracious and kind, which we agreed was our reminder as parents the gravity of our responsibility.  We wanted his middle name to be a north star, so we named him after a historical figure who sought to unite his people rather than divide them. (Spoiler, he’s not named George or Walker.) This middle name we chose is also meant to encourage creativity.  Within seconds of settling on his full name, we got a knock on the door and Baby Boy Lemon-Gugat (Hospital’s name for him) was wheeled into our room.  He was, at that moment, officially ours.

By now you must be asking yourself, “Is he suggesting we brand our children?” No, but I’m sharing where I find my inspiration for the branding work I do. Often as individuals, as well as organizations, our stories can remind us of our purpose and excite those around us to do things not thought possible. If you’re not excited by your story, there’s no reason you can’t reinvent it or tell it differently.

Recently, I was approached by a successful retailer and a foot and ankle doctor for a Major League Baseball team. They were wanting to realize an idea for an infant/toddler footwear product.  They were inspired by their newly born grandchildren. It was serendipitous given our son was about to be born. Having ideated for several hours with these gentlemen, we realized there was no other product on the market like the one they were proposing. A product promoting the positive development of babies’ feet.  The product solves a multitude of problems for both babies and parents by giving babies the best possible footing.

The Gü-GAT Collective helped design the concepts, build a business plan, and do the initial branding for this footwear start-up. These grandfathers generously invited this new father to be a co-founder and equal partner in the exciting new venture. We’re currently seeking a manufacturing partner and plan to go to market by year’s end.

Apparently, there’s no time like the present (fatherhood, consulting, etc.) to tackle a secret goal. I’m now hosting a podcast. The Sport & Style podcast was born out of regular zoom video conferences with my great friends from the sporting goods industry, Neil Schwartz and John Peters. Neil is head of consumer insights at Sports One Source and John is head of business development at the Sports Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).  Neil’s the “boomer” whose seen it all.  John is the “don’t label me millennial” with a fresh perspective.  And I’m the Gen X’er sitting on the fence of “old” and “new.” We will regularly break down industry news stories that catch our eye, analyze sales data for trends, and interview a guest influencing the sport & style trade. Our pilot podcast will be up on iTunes and Stitcher in May. 

Anyway, thanks for letting me tell you some more of my story.  If I can help you tell yours, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at