Regardless of planning, execution, quality, efficiency, infrastracture, management and communications, I’ve seen time and time again the importance of personality attached to brand. Brands are people; people are brands. This is true on both local and national levels, both professionally and personally.
Apple is in big trouble. Not because of revenues or projected revenues. Not because of supply chain issues, employee morale or product quality – all are stellar. Not because income continues to (gulp) soar. Steve Jobs, and Apple’s Board of Directors, have created a monster – Steve Jobs, an individual, being inexorably linked, messiah/guru-like, to the brand to the point they are now inseparable. One and the same. Steve struts on stage twice a year (MacWorld, Analyst Meeting), gaunt, sickly, clearly unwell, lying to the public which owns the company which bears his face; a company who’s stock is soaring towards $400. There’s a danger in this so evident that regardless of Apple’s innovations moving forward, if Jobs dies the company will, too. Slowly. Is it any coincidence that when Jobs returned to Apple, founded Pixar and started hanging out with George Lucas (Star Wars, Industrial Light & Magic), and John Lassiter (writer/director/innovator of Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, The Incredibles), that Apple’s product line got simpler, more childlike, more intuitive and looked like Imperial Stormtroopers? Think about it. Apple’s products aren’t developed through innovation, their futurethought/conceived by Jobs.
Take a local restaurant. The most successful local restaurants are always, ALWAYS, helmed by a face, a person, that special hostess, that hands on owner, the charming Maitre’D, who knows your name, or who you are through millisecond study, and takes you on a journey through their brand. Sirio Maccione of Le Cirque, Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, or Steven Perricone of Perricone’s. The list goes on an on. Revenues are impacted through relationships developed, income rises because customer traffic, efficiencies are created because customers need not browse menus and tables are turned faster.
The Face of Business is People. Never forget that. Otherwise, let’s all get into the commodities business, trading grain, coal, iron ore, pork bellies or cutting grass, competitively differentiated by pennies, discarded at whim.