The Problem with Charismatic Brand Leaders
Though we live in a world of the celebrity CEO, marketing people are playing with fire when they allow brands under their stewardship to become defined by an individual. An unrelenting focus on a charismatic leader or CEO can threaten the long-term health of a brand. Evidence of this can be seen in the concern now surrounding Apple and the questions regarding the viability of the Canadian New Democratic Party without Jack Layton.
Whether due to the passage of time, unforeseen crises or the whim of shareholders, leaders eventually fade away, to be replaced by others. To withstand these inevitable changes, brands need to be built on enduring values that are bigger than the leader’s personality. Values that and can be passed from generation to generation e.g. Coca-Cola, BMW, Tim Horton’s.
It’s my belief that both the NDP and Apple will both continue to prosper, because both brands have solid foundations to build on. Apple is about thinking differently and challenging the status quo through technological innovation. The NDP’s foundation is its social democratic philosophy, which is rooted in the rank and file of the party.
Both organizations will need to navigate through some stormy waters in the next 12-24 months as a result of allowing the brands to become too focused on Jack and Steve. But, they would both be well advised to maintain a more balanced approach moving forward.
Do you think that Sir Richard Branson is paying attention?