Would the Kodak brand have had a different destiny if George Eastman had shared his vision and created a brand culture among his employees before taking his life?
Will the Apple brand survive because Steve Jobs started to pass the torch more than eight years before passing away?
Why has the Coca-Cola brand kept its value and appeal long after entrepreneur Asa Candler was gone?
Why do some brands survive their founding visionaries while others just loose their mojo?
When I think of entrepreneurs I think of bold individuals intent on shaping the world, rather than just living in it. They set out to do what hasn’t been done before and along the way, their passion ignites enthusiasm in others and they grow. As long as they remain the primary caregiver of the brand, it’s in safe hands no matter how large or prosperous the business might become. But what happens when the entrepreneur is out of the picture? Can the vision live on?
Some would argue it depends on the willingness of the new brand stewards to embrace the entrepreneur’s philosophy. I would say it depends on the entrepreneur’s willingness to let go…to understand that the brand they created is bigger than them and that the real legacy is in articulating the creed so others can carry it on. In other words, there is value in entrepreneurs accepting that their brand is no longer solely theirs. To survive the entrepreneur, a brand must transcend the individual’s expertise, instinct, or taste and solidify into a shared creed. Look at the United States Constitution — created by our founding fathers over 200 years ago, yet alive and well today. Now that’s brand longevity.
If there’s ever going to be a chance for a brand’s long life, it has to start with the entrepreneurs codifying their vision for others. By defining the brand, its core personality and reason for being, as well as setting clear guidelines for others to follow, entrepreneurs can ensure their ideals a robust future independent of them.
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