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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
Having a personality behind a brand can have various pitfalls, says Ghose, the biggest of which is the old cliché that everyone is human. “When the individual disappoints through his or her behavior, the brand suffers,” he explains. “Also, our press culture is designed to elevate a person to celebrity status, then find their flaws and expose them. As a result, personalities are generally less trusted, as the consumer has become subliminally aware that it may only be a matter of time before they find fault with the individual. Good marketers understand this principle and are increasingly reluctant to develop a brand around an individual personality.”
That worry may be a way off for Lebanese brands; Lahoud says they still have a way to go, as the concept of branding is still immature compared to in the West. In the meantime, leaders behind brands should consider his warning: “CEOs get busy managing the organization, whereas they should be managing the brand.”
Companies looking to avoid becoming a large faceless giant know that the personality behind the brand plays an integral role, says Sinha. And in spite of his cautious attitude to associating a brand too closely with one person, Ghose also says that if consumers are attracted to a person and trust their behavior, their choices, and their values, then they will trust the brand that person represents.
“We treat brands in very much the same way as we relate to people as individuals,” explains Ghose. “That’s why brands with celebrity personalities behind them work so well, but only for as long as the celebrity is relevant in the mind of the target consumers.”
So what’s the trick to staying relevant?
“Authenticity is so important,” says Lundgren. “It’s just like you would deal with your kids: you can’t tell them not to smoke but smoke in front of them. The trick is to be yourself. Walk the talk.”
- Additional reporting by Ibrahim Nehme