Leslie died.

If you live in Austin, you know Leslie. He’s been a fixture here since I moved to Austin in 1994.

Leslie is, well, WAS, our local crazy crossdressing streetguy. He was an Austin Icon. Everyone in Austin knew who Leslie was. Everyone had a Leslie story. He was perhaps the single most well known person in the whole city. If you do a search for ‘Leslie Cochran Austin” on Google, you get over 10,000,000 results. He ran for Mayor and didn’t come in last.. Several times.

He had an iPhone app. He had fridge magnets.

He had fans.

I was a personal fan. I used Leslie as a prime example of brand development any time I’ve been asked to talk about brand development. I’ve taught about Leslie in universities, to entrepreneur groups and technology symposiums.

He was a hero.

Sure, he was nuts. I doubt anyone would argue with that. But he knew how to stand out and make a different noise. Cities all over the world are full of people living on the fringes. Dumpster divers and street people trying to live off the crumbs we leave behind. Most of them drudge on in obscurity. But Leslie figured out that he could rise above that and improve his meager lot in life. He created a brand that was so unique he made himself a star. And it kept him alive for a very long time.

He died today and he’s all over the news, Facebook, Blogs etc. Hell, I’m writing about him.

If he wasn’t a master at building a great brand, nobody would have noticed.

So a toast to you Leslie, wherever you are right now. I hope you bring come color to whatever lies beyond 6th and Congress.