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Brands get personal
Many of the world’s biggest brands are helmed by charismatic and high-profile leaders. But why are regional examples so thin on the ground?
February 28, 2010 5:00 by Rania Habib
THE ONE EXAMPLE
Another regional example that fits Ghose’s personality requirements is Thomas Lundgren, CEO (“chief emotional officer,” according to Lundgren himself) of The One furniture chain. Lundgren has a big personality, and he pours it into the company and brand through wacky ideas such as his 2007 open advertising pitch, involving agencies recording a track for the “Thomas Lundgren Breakfast Show” in just 24 hours. He also drives The One’s significant CSR efforts.
His story – although not internationally known like the biggest brand personalities out there – is best known for a dream he had where an angel told him he was on a mission to save the world from Ikea. After working with the furniture giant for 10 years, he created his own, zany, brand of furniture.
“I do everything from my heart, and I think my business is about feelings and brains,” says Lundgren. “You can’t just base something on feelings. If you only base it on brains, though, it can become something that has no passion at all. But if you have passion it is very easy to get involved with your brand.” Lundgren says that becoming the personality behind his brand was not a conscious decision; upon retrospection, however, it was an obvious one. “Because of my passion,” he says. “Our company is driven by that.”
Sinha says that having a human element makes brands more appealing, because it makes them more believable. “The person who is the face of the brand should be an authentic pillar to the brand proposition, and someone who is there to enrich it,” he says. But he warns that the old adage “To be known is to be loved” does not apply from a branding point of view. Even if a brand has a larger-than-life personality behind it, if the product is not great, the branding strategy won’t lead very far. Lundgren couldn’t agree more. “We have core values that we use in everything we do – love, live, dare, believe – just like you have rules within your family, otherwise it’s a schizophrenic operation,” he says.