By Marva Goldsmith

I attended the Association of Image Consultants International Conference in Orlando, FL just a stone’s thrown away from the home of Mickey Mouse.  I taught a workshop called Brand Magic for Image Consultants based on my workbook of the same title, obviously inspired by the magic of Disney World.  I started thinking about the kind of personal brand lessons we can learn from the phenomenally successful Mickey Mouse brand.

The Mickey Mouse Brand has Withstood the Test of Time

Have you ever heard of the Garfield & Scratchy Show or Felix the Cat?  Both cartoons were created in the 1920’s and enjoyed a brief resurgence—but neither could withstand the test of time that the Mickey Mouse brand has for more than 80 years.  When Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928, he looked and acted much differently from the lovable character that we now recognize.

Mickey did not wear gloves.  His body was shaped like a pear and he had spindly arms and legs.  At times, people complained that Mickey wasn’t very personable, so Disney changed the character.  When Mickey turned 50 in 1978, Mickey became the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Branding Yourself in the Marketplace – A Big Lesson We Can Learn from the Mickey Mouse Brand 

The Mickey Mouse Brand is an excellent example of how to utilize diverse vehicles to brand yourself in the marketplace. Mickey was first marketed as an animated cartoon.  Consistency is key: After appearing in 15 commercially successful, animated short films that ran in theaters before the main attraction, the Mickey Mouse brand became easily recognized by the public.

Walt Disney licensed Mickey along with other characters for use in a comic strip in 1930.  In 1955, children and adults were able to visit with the larger than life iconic mouse at his new home in Disney World.  The Mickey Mouse brand became synonymous with Disney.

Your Personal Brand is More than a Logo or Image

The Mickey Mouse Club was also born in 1955 and Mouseketeers entertained youngsters on small black and white televisions who chanted, “M-I-C (See you next week) K-E-Y (Why? Because we love you!) M-O-U-S-E.”  Bring back any memories?  Now, wearing mouse ears, youngsters everywhere sang songs of allegiance to Mickey, who had somehow  become the most famous mouse in history.

So, how did the Mickey earn and retain the affection of so many for so long?  In his book, Walt Disney, An American Original, author Bob Thomas said, “Walt was the devoted guardian of Mickey’s integrity.  Even though Mickey was a character, Walt Disney was clear about the authenticity of the mouse’s brand. Many times in story conferences he said, ‘Mickey wouldn’t do that.’  He had an unerring sense of when the gag men were going too far, or when they were reaching for laughs that would have been at variance with the naturalness of Mickey’s character.

That is why the Mickey Mouse brand not only captured, but retained the world’s affection as no other cartoon character before him, and remained an enormously likeable figure.   

Ask the following Questions about Branding Yourself in the Marketplace
  • What is your Personal brand?
  • How many vehicles will you use to brand yourself in the market place?
  • What attributes can you build upon to keep your personal brand authentic, memorable and marketable to your target market?



Marva walks the talk when it comes to personal branding and professional image.  An electrical engineer, she has successfully merged right-brain logic with left-brain creativity.  Marva has coached, trained and consulted with entrepreneurs and in corporations, federal, state and local government agencies, universities and non-profit organizations.

Collaborates with clients to:

  • Provide tangible deliverables, actionable recommendations and demonstrable results
  • Create and implement career and professional development strategies
  • Evaluate effectiveness
  • Respond to emerging opportunities

Proven Background. Provides Real World Point of View.

  • Positions held during 20 year career with DTE Energy (Fortune 500 utility company) includes: systems engineer, federal lobbyist, call center director and people strategy manager.
  • Image and brand management professional with diverse client engagements that include: Fortune 500 companies, CEOs, politicians, business men and women and incarcerated youth
  • Author of ‘Re-branding Yourself After Age 50’, ‘Branding You, Incorporated’ and ‘Marketing Yourself for the Future’


  • Michigan State University, Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering
  • Harvard University, Master in Public Administration, Concentration in Leadership
  • Image Management, Dominique Isbecque International, the London Image Institute and the Image Resource Group 
  • Brand Management, William Arruda’s Reach Branding, Peter Montoya Personal Brand University
  • Georgetown University, Leadership Coaching Program

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