Whether you are a business-to-consumer company or a business-to-business company, it can be advantageous to have a person who to others represents the actual face of your company. There are many reasons for this. The ability to relate your company to a person can make the business seem more human and more accessible. People feel more obligated to remember a person’s name than a company’s name. Assuming the face of your company is likable, reaching out and networking on behalf of your company can become increasingly easier as time goes on.
Of course, like all things in the world of business and marketing, the concept of having a “face of your company” sounds much easier on paper than it is to actually implement. Here are some of the things that need to be considered as your company determines whether your brand can be represented by a single person.
Will the face of your company evolve naturally or will you groom someone?
Sometimes someone naturally situates him or herself as the face of your company. In many cases this will be the founder of your company. This approach worked well for Wendy’s back when founder Dave Thomas was the face and spokesman in all of their ads. Orville Reddenbacher used to talk about his own popcorn in commercials. Steve Jobs was certainly the face (and the soul) of Apple. In the cases of some of our clients, the founder of the company is who people expect to see in corporate videos or at trade shows.
Sometimes it is not as intuitive, however. Perhaps the founder of your company is great at business but not necessarily great at being social. Maybe the founder of the company has been gone for quite some time and someone else needs to grab the torch. In this case, your company must decide if you are going to try to push someone out there as the face of the company. This can be tricky. Not only does everyone in your company need to feel comfortable with being represented by this person, but people beyond your company walls also need to accept this person as someone with whom they can network.
What happens if the face of the company parts ways with the company?
As with all things, it is essential to plan for all possible scenarios when discussing the prospect of assigning a face of your company. Consider the case of Men’s Warehouse. For years and years, George Zimmer, with his deep husky voice, assured television viewers that suits from the Men’s Warehouse were of the highest quality. “You’re going to like the way you look,” he promised. In fact, he “guaranteed it.” He was the face of the company in every sense of the word.
Then, suddenly, he was fired by his own board.
What occurred afterwards was a pretty ugly PR mess for the company. George Zimmer (not surprisingly) did a lot of finger pointing. A lot of dirty laundry was aired that should probably have remained within the company’s walls.
What happens if the face of the company encounters problems that tarnish his or her image?
This is another difficulty that companies must unfortunately weigh carefully. The face of your company, whether the founder, an employee, or a celebrity endorser, represents your brand. What happens if that person creates serious problems like those Tiger Woods experienced a few years ago? It is not just the person representing the company who can be damaged in these scenarios, whether something happens to them or whether they create the problem on their own. The company itself can be damaged. The damage can increase exponentially depending on how the company does (or does not) deal with the situation. Is the response quick and measured or slow and evasive? Shortly after Oscar Pistorius was arrested for allegedly killing his girlfriend, I found a website that belonged to a company with whom Pistorius had been working. The company’s splash page had little guns in the background. The intent of course had been to symbolize the speed of the Olympian, but in the aftermath of the allegations against Pistorius, it was in extremely poor taste.
Do you actually need a face of the company?
This of course is the ultimate question. Consider Zappos. Even though Tony Hsieh, the founder, has made a name for himself, the quality work of his employees as a whole speaks just as loudly. If your marketing consists primarily of social media tactics, it might be better to have a corporate voice instead of a personal voice. As always, as a company you must settle these questions internally and determine what will be best for your brand.
Does your company have a person who has become the “face” of your brand? How did you weigh the pros and cons?
We’d love to hear from you.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maysbusinessschool/6172572557/ via Creative Commons