To keep moving in the right direction, a brand needs to be bigger than one person. This means you, CEOs.
A visionary leader sounds like something to envy. Something that would be an asset to any company.
And it’s easy to look at Tesla or Amazon and think they’re so successful because they had Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and their competitors didn’t. As a story all about people, not economics and strategy, it makes a kind of instinctive sense.
But a company’s vision shouldn’t live in one person. As part of the company brand, the vision belongs to everyone.
The power of brand to engage and empower employees is too often overlooked. But the brand tells everyone what they’re here for and where they’re going. And when everyone knows that, everyone can help things keep moving in the right direction.
Of course there are some upsides to having a charismatic figurehead attached to your company. They can put a human face on a corporation, making it easier for press and the public to engage. And as long as their star keeps rising, they’ll pull the company skyward in their wake.
But when the founder or CEO becomes synonymous with the company, when the person becomes the brand, they also become a single point of failure.
Musk is the most recognisable element of the Tesla, SpaceX and Boring Company brands, so his erratic behaviour reflects on them all. And how must it feel for the staff? When the company’s reason for being is to execute one man’s vision, what does it mean for the company when that man’s focus starts to drift?
That’s why brand can’t be dictated purely from the top. All areas of the company need to be involved in creating, maintaining and growing the brand. When everyone understands where the company is going, a detour by a single individual can’t derail the whole journey.
A company, and its brand, is bigger than one person. The brand describes the company – and the company is all its people.