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Making a Viral Impact with David Arsenault: A Case Study

brand architecture case study personal branding Apr 08, 2022

In February 2022, David Arsenault went viral on LinkedIn. The formula was a simple one: one single post comprised of 150 words, an image and a hashtag. David’s post racked up 2.5M+ views, 30,000 likes, and thousands of shares and comments. It trended for weeks as people from across the globe engaged with the piece.

His message was one of hope, of support, and of optimism.

The best part?

It brought millions of eyeballs to the non-profit he founded without “selling” anything or even mentioning the name of his organization.

Here’s the story.

Driven By Purpose

Though it seemed like it happened overnight, David’s virality was (much like his career as a professional athlete) the result of calculated strategy, consistent effort, and unwavering belief.

David Arsenault was many things when he first began working with Brand of a Leader: energetic, deeply genuine, and full of stories.

What he was not was social media savvy (he’ll be the first to admit it). Though that has since changed, he ultimately shared the one thing that all our clients have in common: he was driven by purpose and committed to acting as a force for good in the world. 

David was already doing amazing work through his non-profit Champions for Life Foundation, but he wanted to expand this impact beyond the scope of the Foundation by connecting with people as a thought leader. Like most social entrepreneurs, he wanted to give a “face” to his organization, to drive awareness and to inspire others at scale to join his mission alongside him.

David worked with Brand of a Leader on his Personal Brand Architecture, designing a clear messaging, a unique value proposition, a concept, a voice/tone and content pillars (things he would talk about) – all of which were unique and authentic to him.

Over the next several months, our team co-created content with David, slowly building his visibility and expanding his reach across his chosen platform (LinkedIn).

David Arsenault - Founder, Champions for Life Foundation

Sharing Content that Matters

Our approach to personal branding prioritizes a two-pronged approach to content. From our view, all content coming from a personal brand should speak to:

What you uniquely value as a professional

Who you are as a person

In David’s case, his content pillars were designed to speak solely about the following topics:

Social entrepreneurship: what it means to him, his efforts scaling one of Canada’s pre-eminent non-profits, and the “real” experience living and working as a social entrepreneur

Movement: behind-the-scenes insights into David’s life, his life as an athlete, his community work, his abundant energy, his thoughts on physical/mental wellness, and things he stands for

David’s viral post fit into the second content pillar: Canadian athletics, the sports world, and why he believes that effort matters more than perfection.

The post did not mention his organization, his social entrepreneurship, or any “work” that he does; it focused instead on something he stood for.

The Post that Went Viral

In February 2022, David published a short post about Canadian Olympic figure skater Roman Sadovsky, who had just competed at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 22-year-old Sadovsky was receiving some harsh responses from the media and the general public after falling several times during his routine. 

Engagement skyrocketed within the first 48 hours. Since the time of this publication, it has garnered 2.5+ million views and 30,000 likes (and still climbing). Sport Calgary saw the post and reached out to David asking if he would send the athlete a letter to raise his spirits.

The post didn’t mention David’s non-profit. It didn’t mention his previous work as a high-profile trainer or international athlete.

What you would know is that he’s compassionate, deeply optimistic, supportive, and that he has a more nuanced approach to sports than a simple win-lose mentality. You would both understand and feel it without it ever being said.

David moved millions to read, share, comment and take action. By highlighting his values and what he stands for rather than promoting himself on behalf of his organization’s brand, audiences across David’s network, and across Canada as a whole, relished in the opportunity to connect with the values of a person over those of a private organization. Indeed, we simply resonate best with a message when it comes from a person rather than a faceless corporate entity.

By speaking up about what he believes in and the values that matter to him, David was able to drive incredible awareness to himself, to what he believes in, to his organization – and in the process, he inspired millions of people along the way.

David’s viral post makes for an amazing reminder of the power of content that has nothing to do with what you do but has everything to do with who you are.


David Arsenault is a former trainer and professional athlete, and the Founder of the Champions for Life Foundation, which helps children across Canada develop their physical literacy.


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