Today, Marketing Week made a very valid point, when global brand director of Firefly Millward Brown, one Rob Hernandez, spoke about the fact that large corporate entities need a “human face”. He argues that, based on statistics, large companies could benefit from a Gates, a Zuckerberg, a Jobs or even a Miyamoto.
They don’t have to be CEOs, by any means – we all know Gates has taken more of a back-seat role in recent years to focus on swimming around in his pool filled with $100 bills and gold-plated time machines (I kid, obviously, the man’s a huge philanthropist and deserves anyone‘s respect). But people who were never in charge – Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto – that are responsible for huge aspects of their corporate image tend to make the company feel more… human.
But of course, when the tables turn, it means that the press and the public will single out one name and once they’re out for blood, things can get shockingly personal. I, like many, have thrown many an insult at Bill Gates over things he doesn’t even design – Vista, the Xbox 360… the list goes on and on. Why? Because he’s the “face” of Microsoft. Similarly, I praise Miyamoto for every new Mario game, but he’s not the only one involved.
At the same time, we know that if a faceless Apple employee came onto the stage to present a new iTunes feature (streaming, guys, not the damn Beatles), we’d clap. But when Steve Jobs comes onto the stage, we cheer, we applaud loudly, we stand up to applaud even louder, and then as we leave we check our wallets desperately (cause let’s be realistic, guys, it’s not a cheap addiction, this Apple stuff). He fronts his business and he’s done so whether he’s been well or battling a serious disease, whether it’s a small release or a big deal, like the iPhone 4 or the iPad.
In the case of your business, can you honestly say you’ve one man or woman who people will look at and think “X-corp”? If not, why not consider one? I blog for MoreDigital constantly, and as while talking to my editor today it became pretty apparent that lately I’ve become the face of the company, the one name that constantly appears around the web in conjunction with our team of experts and writers. It’s something of an odd feeling, because you know that if people think of MoreDigital, there’s a chance they read the blog and think of myself, or Fay, or Leah as those who really speak out when it comes to our company.
I suppose it’s like being Lemmy in Motorhead, really. They’ve been going for decades, and if you love Motorhead, you really love them, even though you know deep down that all their songs sound relatively similar (admit it). But if they ever released a duff record, Lemmy would get it, and Lemmy would be the one criticised by his fans. Not Phil, not Mickey, but Lemmy. Because to most people, Motorhead is a band with a faceless guitarist and drummer in it, and that bassist bloke, you know the one, with the big growths on his face, the beard and the hat.
We’ve reached a point in commercialism where if you’re not the company with a human representative people can name, that people can reference in conversation, you’re just another faceless company with an equally faceless board of directors. We live in a more visual world than we did fifty years ago – people have websites, portfolios, Facebook accounts, and we can’t discount the fact that eventually, your CEO will become known to the public if you’re batting with the teams at the top of the league. So take your face and stick it on your homepage, folks! You never know, people might chant your name at E3 soon!