Is it bad for a brand to be too reliant on one persona?

At this stage, the Royal Wedding is a fairly distant memory for almost everyone (except, presumably, for the winning bidder of Princess Beatrice’s Philip Treacy hat) but with all the commotion over Kate Middleton’s wedding dress I began to think about brands that have a personality or ‘face’ that is too visible, eclipsing the name of the brand in question. Was Kate’s dress a Sarah Burton creation or from the design house of Alexander McQueen? I suppose ‘both’ is the answer but since the weddingBurtonhas become a household name outside fashion circles and uttered by every pseudo Fashionista and Royalist in Great Britain and beyond. Indeed, for those who don’t know their D&G from their H&M, Sarah Burton’s name may have eclipsed the late Alexander McQueen’s whether she likes it or not.

In my opinion, a brand with a very clear personality and prominent figurehead is a great thing. Sometimes that face is obviously extremely gifted and passionate about what they do; Mark Zuckerberg, as we all know, is highly intelligent and business savvy but perhaps lacks a human touch. It doesn’t matter and I doubt Zuckerberg cares if that’s how he is perceived. Then there’s Dov Charney, the CEO and founder of American Apparel. Dressing like a director of 70s porn and a name synonymous with controversy, Charney has basically constructed a decidedly seedy image for himself and as a result, his brand.

Twitter's Jack Dorsey

In Charney’s case, this is the image he is happy to propagate but what happens when the personality that is entwined with the brand steps outside acceptable confines? When John Galliano recently went on an anti-Semitic rant  in a Parisian bar, he was promptly reprimanded and then dismissed by Dior. If Galliano and Dior did not go hand in hand, or if Galliano was not a celebrity in his own right, would the fact he’s allegedly an anti-Semite in his private life have mattered as much? Jack Dorsey may be a familiar name among technophiles but the founder of Twitter has, arguably, much less of a presence than the likes of Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. Twitter is a relative newcomer (despite being in existence since late 2006) and perhaps could have benefitted from an origin myth like Facebook or Apple with a hero/saviour to go with it, but whether Twitter will prove to profit and have longevity without an extrovert at the helm remains to be seen.

– Catherine

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