What's In A Name - The Re-Branding of MSL

Could a blog by any other name be as impactful?

         If time on the internet could be likened to time in school, this would be our sophomore slump. In breaking out into our digital freshman term, Britt and I launched Memoirs of a Student Leader with much of the wide-eyed enthusiasm that kicked off our own collegiate careers. Since bringing you our first guest stories back in October, we’ve experienced a rapid shares of high and low moments. From reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones in the dash to collect guest authors as a part of our network, to the typical struggles associated with building a brand and assembling an audience, these past few months have been quite the learning experience. Now, we find ourselves at a crucial crossroads, as the time has come for MSL to adapt in order to survive.

A rose is a rose, is a rose…

          This journey began with a walk down memory lane. In assembling his notes on his past experiences as a member of the Marist College student government association and coordinating them into a book on how these impactful experiences helped to shape his social and professional identities, MSL Co-Founder Michael D. Johnson turned to a working title that he’d initially concocted during his term as an undergraduate: The Memoirs of a Student Leader. Carrying the underlying lesson that everyone has a story worth telling, particularly when breaking these narratives down into their deeper elements through reflection, it seemed a fitting title. After all, the project sought to turn modern conceptions on their head by demonstrating the impactful role these microcosms of governance can play in shaping more impactful societal roles. Borrowing a term typically associated with the life works of more established figures to identify the work made sense for this project; but the question lingered, could it be applied to a broader brand?

Walking on a common thread

            As Johnson shared his findings with an old collegiate ally, Brittany M. MacLeod, the two began to wonder whether or not there was a greater potential for helping others to share their own stories. Having previously worked together through the student government and college Toastmasters chapter, they were certainly no strangers to the process of developing a discussion on leadership and success, as well as life and all of its little quirks. The process, they decided, would be informal and rather familiar, build a stage and invite others to share their stories. These tales would then be met with wit and reflection to illustrate just how much we share in the way of confusion, difficulties, hopes, and desires while navigating this grand journey of life. This focus gave birth to their vision, “shaping the world through shared stories.

The best laid plans of mice and men

            From the offset, the project was met with energy and enthusiasm from within their own social circles, as friends and alumni quickly rallied around the new concept to share stories of their own. Some, like initial contributors Lizzy Newman and Elisa Jakymin, jumped right onboard as “Regular Contributors” committed to aiding the MSL project over the long-run. As we continued to share new, weekly stories into the dawn of the new year, however, MSL leaders quickly recognized significant hurdles rising in the distance. For starters, this young blog had yet to break beyond the bubble of its founder’s established social networks. With the well of potential writers dwindling, their current focus on relying primarily on guest contributions began to look all the more unsustainable. Fortunately, the project continued to be supported by the spirited contributions of dedicated writers, with new additions Jen Everdyke and Brian Shea joining the team as Regular Contributors. As MJ, Britt and Elisa set sail on their Fathom Impact adventure in March, it was apparent that some serious brainstorming was in order.

Leading the way, a new approach to MSL

            As we continue to grow, MSL will be launching a new format for content scheduling beginning in May of 2017. Starting next month, our weekly focus will be on our team of Regular Contributors, with guest postings arising more sparsely on a month-to-month basis. We believe that this will help to solidify our identity as a brand by giving our audience a more consistent channel into the insights and expertise of our team, while allowing us to make our guest spotlight more of an exclusive event. As always, the floor will remain open to readers and newcomers to submit their ideas to us for potential guest slots. In cutting back on the weekly postings, however, we hope to cull back some of the brand confusion and assemble a stronger picture of what MSL truly means.

Along those lines

            Memoirs of a Student Leader has become somewhat of a misnomer through the course of our steady evolution. Indeed, our guest stories have shown that you don’t have to be a “student” or even a “leader” in a traditional sense to make an impact. Heck, the word “Memoirs” has even struck an odd chord with some as an old-fashioned term not immediately identifiable with our targeted millennial audience (sorry, MJ). To that end, our transition will also be incorporating a bit of a re-branding as well. While we continue to hang our hats under the initials of “MSL”, we’ll be revisiting the various possible meanings of these letters as time goes on. From “making significant leaps” to “millennial’s shared lessons”, you’ve shown us that there are a number of routes we can take in sharing our platform with the world.

            As our team continues to explore these possibilities in bringing you the next iteration of our site, rest assured that all roads lead back to MSL. Our site will continue to thrive in heart and spirit in much the same way that it was initially conceived. While our visuals may receive some fine tuning and familiar voices take a more active role in the spotlight, the warmth and dedication underneath will not falter.

            Thank you for your continued support in sharing this journey with us. Here’s to the start of a new chapter.


  Submit your ideas for "MSL" meanings to us on Facebook, on Twitter (@MSLstories), or in the comments below!

Stay tuned for more exciting updates and insights each week, and join us in this re-branding of MSL by sharing your thoughts with us!

Submit your ideas for "MSL" meanings to us on Facebook, on Twitter (@MSLstories), or in the comments below!