It is expected from a CEO / director / founder of a company to give an identity to the organization, be its voice, represent/showcase its vision, plans- in short give a personal touch by addressing the public. No one understands a business entity better than the one who set it up and hence he/she is an ideal brand ambassador.
There are certain companies which have multiple partners, each handling a specific domain. How should they decide upon their spokesperson, is a valid question to ask? Before I answer that, I would like to ask you whether you think it’s a good idea to have multiple speakers representing one brand/company. After all, the company is their baby and they all have equal expertise and knowledge to represent it. Sometimes it is a requirement, for example in case of a hospital where you will have one expert for each department. Otherwise it is always recommended to have a hierarchy but not more than two for the position unless it is a story on the team. Why a limit on the number? Like a wise man once said, “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. More can lead to confusion and conflict. If there are only one or two people talking on behalf of the company, the media will start associating with them first as a spokesperson and then, an industry expert.
Many entrepreneurs believe that letting just one person represent the company may prove to be detrimental to the organization since some may assume it to be personal profiling more than the branding for the company. My advice to this group, get over the insecurity, a company is made of and by the people and without them it has no identity’. An organization itself does not have a voice and thus it is essential to have name(s) attached to the brand to which people, clients, potential businesses can relate to.
TATA has done it successfully and so has The East India Hotel Company which runs the Oberoi Hotels. The story goes that the Oberoi family did not want to adopt a name that sounded international for their 5 star hotels. They wanted the world to know the brand for who made it and hence it was named ‘Oberoi’. While it is essentially a family owned business with some stake holders in Mukesh Ambani, Analjit Singh, etc, the name is much larger than the men who are behind it. It’s a legacy. The same goes with TATA, a brand that is associated with trust.
Let’s look at a more relevant example. While choosing to go to a hospital, you would always prefer to pick one where you know the doctors that have been recommended by a family member or a friend. Again its people oriented and not the brand name oriented. But the bottom line is while a spokesperson plays a vital role in establishing it he ideally never over powers it!
Coming back to startups or growing businesses, the entrepreneur is the star of the show. It’s his brand/product and no one better than him can explain it. Whenever media does a story they need a source to attribute the information to, in order to make the story more credible and valuable. It is thus advised that the entrepreneurs do not get media shy and be more open about letting the media talk about the person associated with it in order write about the brand. It’s time to be more accessible to the media, for the sake of your brand.
Of course it has to be done responsibly, how? That and more in the next post.