Mike Breazeale (Faculty)

Mike Brezeale, pictured with high-tech equipment from the Market Innovation Lab and Observatory.

Mike Breazeale’s career has been differentiated not only by his uncanny ability to set himself apart, but also by his passion for teaching others how to create their own personal “brand.”

The Jackson native attended Millsaps College for his undergraduate degree in accounting, but when he went into retail, purchasing a movie rental business called Video Library, he found that his real love was in the branding side of business. Breazeale said a brand – whether for a retail product or service, or even for a person – tells a story that comes with a promise and set of expectations.

At Video Library, a small but successful venture, Breazeale needed to compete for business.

“I decided to build my brand around a concept I called ‘extreme customer service,’” Breazeale said.

With a knack for communicating well with customers, Breazeale also enjoyed success for several years operating one of Mississippi’s last single-screen movie theaters, which he used largely as an art house. He also went into real estate, training agents and starting his own brokerage firm.

His love for branding played into his success across the board. But as the movie business began to change, Breazeale also sensed his own need to move on to the next chapter. He enrolled in MSU’s College of Business as a doctoral student in marketing.

Utilizing his business background and delving deeper into an academic understanding of what makes businesses tick, Breazeale enjoyed a great rapport with MSU faculty.

“They treated me as a colleague-in-training, and they made sure I was well-equipped for the future,” Breazeale remembered.

He finished his Ph.D. in 2010 and joined the faculty at Indiana University Southeast, later going on to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. While there, he applied his expertise in an unexpected way when he did a study of how terrorist organizations use branding to advance their cause and recruit new members.

“I never thought I would be working on this kind of research, but it is interesting,” he said. While most branding and marketing aims to entice consumers, Breazeale said he and his colleagues also have researched how to dismantle a brand or undermine an organization’s appeal.

Breazeale was delighted to get the opportunity to return to MSU as an assistant professor of marketing in 2014, and he feels his atypical path into academia benefits students because he can relate many personal experiences from his time in business.

He continues to devote his time to the Institute for Brands and Brand Relationships, an organization he helped establish, and he has garnered a hefty social media following on Twitter as @mktgmike.

He teaches MSU courses in personal selling, consumer behavior and strategic brand management.

“Selling was a part of my career. Consumer behavior is at the heart of everything I do, but branding is my true passion,” Breazeale said.