Steering a Brand


The Brand Behind the Wheel

Imagine gripping the steering wheel on a winding road at blistering speeds only inches from certain danger. Every movement of the vehicle is a direct reflection of your neurons firing, signaling the arms and legs as they methodically twist, turn and press the controls that guide a once lifeless vehicle…

Maybe you don’t have to imagine this since it’s often a common experience on our daily commutes. This, however, is a story about my personal experience of learning the power of a brand behind the wheel.

Growing up and discovering my place in this world was challenging at times. What am I meant to do? How will I define success? How will I react in the face of adversity? How will others perceive me?

Ultimately it was my time spent behind the wheel on the racetrack that the answers to these questions became more and more clear, and with that, the understanding of what I now know as my personal brand.

Every time I’d grab my helmet, pull it down over my head and strap in behind the wheel, a transformation happened. At this point, you are now perceived in the form of a speeding heap of metal, plastic and rubber. Suddenly appearances, troubles, stresses, goals and fears are all shared among your friends and foes, stripping you down to the simplest form of one’s self… your brand. Questions like “how am I going to respond if I get pushed out of the way?” or “will I succeed?” suddenly begin to answer themselves as your ability to make critical decisions gets compressed into a matter of milliseconds.

The beauty of this is that the people behind the wheel of a speeding car are arguably the realest form of themselves. After all, their life and the life of others around them could depend on it.

Through my experience with racing, the idea of my personal brand and what it was became clear. Over time, this clarity allowed me to better communicate my brand to the world around me in all instances of life. This includes answering those important life questions.

Now as a branding professional, I’ve become a crew chief for brands. A crew chief’s responsibilities are to help strategize and position a team, maximizing their potential to ultimately achieve success. With that, every team and project is unique and requires a different approach or strategy that suits them and the race toward their individual goals.

As a brand strategist, I empower teams with important insights and knowledge. It’s my job to foresee potential challenges down the road and make sure everyone has the proper tools for growing a brand. That could mean giving direction, being hands on in the workshop, or maybe even getting behind the wheel of a brand and driving it to victory lane myself… whatever it takes to get the job done.

I hope you enjoyed this story! It’s certainly not always a race we’re trying to complete, but when you strip it down to its most basic form, the goal is always the same… to win.

If you were to place a helmet on and strap in behind the wheel, what kind of car would you drive? Will you be scared? Will you have fun? Will you win? The answers to these questions are what you can call your brand.

Transformation isn’t changing who you are, it’s becoming who you are.

Justin Ketchum
Co-founder & Brand Strategist at Modly


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