‘What’s in a name?’ How celebrities and CEOs can shape your brand

What’s in a name? Well, a lot, if you are referring to the name of a person behind a brand or organisation.

A strong personality can certainly influence, whether that be a leader within an organisation, or a celebrity behind a brand.

I recently pondered this question while flicking through the March 2013 issue of Harpers Bazaar. I’ve often thought of the editors and key staff of these high-end magazines as part of the magazine’s brand, at least holistically speaking.

However, Harpers Bazaar has had a sort of ‘makeover’ – at least of staff. The Harpers Bazaar March 2013 issue was overseen by relatively recently appointed editor, Kellie Hush. Hush is known for her strong editorial skills and fashion sense. The March 2013 issue was also influenced by global fashion director, Carine Roitfeld (formerly of rival magazine Vogue), whose fans admire her for her strong personality, edgy fashion style and creative flair. The combination of Hush and Roitfeld was obvious – particularly in the substantial creativity poured into this month’s Harpers Bazaar. The edition was released in 15 different covers designed by fashion icons. Contributors included uber-famous fashion figures such as Christian Louboutin and Giorgio Armani. Certainly, some of the Roitfeld je ne sais quoi was channelled into the Harpers Bazaar March 2013 edition, which included Roitfeld’s fashion feature debut.

So there you have it – the combination of a strong local editor, renowned global fashion director, and the creative input of iconic fashion figures made for a strong issue for this ‘fashion bible’, which enhanced the Harpers Bazaar brand (at least for me).

Cate Blanchett’s role as co-artistic director and CEO of Sydney Theatre Company is a solid example of celebrity and leadership mingling to influence a local organisation. Blanchett, whose excellent performance skills have won her global accolades, has certainly contributed to STC as artistic co-director with her husband, Andrew Upton. Blanchett and Upton apparently had very strong business skills, and were involved in STC’s projects such as the ‘Greening of the Wharf’. Further, Blanchett’s passion for the arts and theatre, and her ‘Hollywood magic’, has also thrust STC in the limelight during her tenure. Apparently, the Blanchett-Upton era has resulted in larger audiences and prominent sponsors for STC, positively affecting the organisation’s bottom line.

Similarly, strong key people within an organisation will affect that company, from its policies, to its products, to its PR. Key personnel are therefore integral to a company’s direction, and even to external perceptions of that organisation.

Take for instance former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, who was synonymous with Apple. Described as a ‘visionary’ and ‘dreamer’ by some, his extraordinary input as CEO resulted in the unprecedented innovation that Apple and its products are renowned for. Apple’s lofty aspirations were also, to a large part, attributed to Jobs’ personal aspirations for the company.

Big personalities can help or hinder. There is often a strong interaction between a ‘brand’ or a ‘company’, and the people attached to it. People with strong personalities will very tangibly shape an organisation, by transferring their persona and ideas into it. Their influence will be real. Companies and brand managers should therefore think carefully before appointing their leaders and sponsors, with a view to selecting people whose personalities are consistent with their organisations’ vision and values.

All I’m saying is that there’s a lot in a name – and key personnel and celebrities can certainly play a vital part in the holistic value of a brand.