The original title for this post was Badger On A Beefsteak, which is a fun marriage of alliteration and vivid imagery that’s crept into my working world lexicon over the course of the past 20 years or so. Since it’s established that I’m neither a butcher nor a game warden, the natural next question is, “Why is an advertising and branding guy throwing that kind of a term around in a creative shop?”

The answer has to do with talking about attacking a project or problem with everything we’ve got and building a sense of urgency in your advertising and branding around getting things done. When it’s time to go all in and focus on nothing else but the task at hand, that is when I say it’s time to get after it “like a badger on a beefsteak” since the idea of one of the fiercest animals on land tearing into a fresh hunk of meat makes the objective pretty clear: until we’ve ripped the problem to shreds and feel the satisfaction of coming up with the perfect answer, nothing else matters.

The funny thing is that workplace idioms like that can cross a point where they become empty phrases that lose their efficacy if you use them for every single project or to-do list item. A given man or woman only has so much intensity to throw at a given project. All of which to say, be picky with the how and when of invoking the image of furry carnivores decimating a cut of beef.

Thinking about the personal genesis of that expression, it came about through some back-and-forth with a buddy from way back who, for decades now, has been known simply as MTV Jeff.

As one might imagine, that moniker came about because Jeff was briefly seen on MTV back in the early days of the station, as the drummer in the video for “Heart of Steel” by the long-forgotten band Will And The Kill.

It’s a nickname that stuck like SuperGlue right from the start, simply because it took an easy and fun truth and distilled it into a quick catchphrase (which I’ll admit was helped by the humor of Jeff’s time on MTV was almost blink-and-you-missed-it quick). That, when you get right down to it, is a cornerstone of advertising and branding. You take an accessible, relatable truth about a person or brand, and you present it in a quick and humorous way.

Brands can, with some success, manufacture a nickname or shorthand that sticks through repetition and smart placement. When those things happen organically – like “MTV Jeff” did among our marketplace of friends – you’ve got something that’s going to become an almost permanent part of the brand identity.

The lesson here is that finding those truths about a business is essential for so many components of good advertising and branding. Try to slap a cool, catchy phrase onto a brand without some kind of deeper connection and you wind up looking like George Costanza, yelling unsuccessfully to anyone who would listen that they should call him “T-Bone.”

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