May 12, 2015

The Possibility of Personality

Virgin has Sir Richard Branson. Facebook has Mark Zuckerberg. Salesforce.com has Marc Benioff.

Each person is not only a CEO, they are a symbol. They function as the “human face” at the helm of the brand, and their personality and public persona shapes their company’s brand and its perceived values. And it’s these people that customers identify with, get to know, like, and trust.

Who is the face of your business?

Humanizing your company can be an immense competitive advantage. It immediately differentiates your firm from everyone else, because it provides a person who embodies your brand.

A Person to Know

Companies are a collection of people, but we know individuals. The corporate brand is a partial stand in for the personal connection. It creates a shorthand for what a company is and what it represents, but there’s only so far the corporate brand can go.

You need a leader. Who is the person that will personify your brand? Who is your platform builder?

One of the best examples of this is Mitch Joel and his role at Twist Image, now Mirum. He is fabulous rainmaker and spokesperson for the brand. (Twist was acquired in May 2014 by WPP, and consolidated into a new digital marketing agency called Mirum.)

Mitch explains, “We made a decision in the very early days [of Twist Image] that a human face would best suit the company’s brand. And that happened to be my bald face. Out of all of us it was me because I was a content creator and I enjoyed it. It’s something I really like doing.”

Mitch has the DNA to be heard. Prior to joining Twist, he was a journalist and an entrepreneur. He’s written two bestselling books, Six Pixels of Separation and Ctrl Alt Delete. He’s a sought after professional speaker with big name clients like Google and Walmart. And Mitch blogs seven days a week, podcasts weekly, and writes for a number of newspapers and magazines.

But Mitch is more than a spokesperson who is an executive in a company. His position was strategically architected into Twist Image’s brand and business strategy.

Mitch says Twist Image manages three brands:

  • Twist Image: The digital marketing agency
  • Mitch Joel: The persona or the human manifestation for the brand
  • Six Pixels of Separation Content Platform: The blog, podcast, speaking, books, Facebook page, and all the other content touch points

The three brands work in harmony. Mitch was the face of the company, the content is the platform and vehicle for connecting with a large audience of influencers, and the business delivers client services.

Create Space for the Personality

A platform builder like Mitch Joel will grow their personal brand and their platform no matter what. It’s in their DNA. They are naturally drawn to the spotlight and will seek it out.

Similarly this is an opportunity for you and your company. If you find a platform builder in your midst — a talented communicator that embodies your brand and its mission — the question should not be how to manage them. The challenge is how to empower them, support them, and integrate them into your business.

The platform builder’s natural desire to connect with people and be heard creates an immense opportunity for your business. They can generate a significant amount of customer interaction and brand awareness over time. And they have the ability to humanize your brand, and reach out and connect with people at a deep, personal level.

The challenge is how to harness their talents and integrate them into your corporate brand. This will include a combination of strategy and evolution. If you spot the talents of a Platform Builder in your midst, you’d be a fool to ignore them. That Platform Builder just might be the golden goose who puts your company on the map.

A Personality Adds Depth

By no means do you need to add a face to your brand. Lots of companies operate successful brands without an identifiable person that is associated with the brand. But imagine the richness a personality could add to your brand.

Look what Steve Jobs did for Apple, or Sir Richard Branson does for Virgin. These individuals add a human quality that cannot be replicated through marketing or advertising.

Take the plunge. Break free of the confines of marketing, and add a human face to your brand.

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