The Potential Perils of Tying Your Brand to a Real Person

There are numerous examples of company names tied directly to an individual. That person is often the founder but could also be a key personality. Even our current president achieved a great amount of fame by attaching his name to everything from hotels and golf courses to steaks and an online university. Naming a company after an individual can add some personality to the brand and make potential customers feel a more personal connection to that brand. We know who the frontperson is; we know what they look like; and we know a bit about their personality and character.

But that isn’t always a good thing.

If that prominent personality carrying the name of the brand becomes controversial or disliked, the fortunes of the company can take a major hit. We saw that with President Trump himself, shortly after he took office. Even his daughter Ivanka recently announced she would be closing the fashion brand named after her following boycotts and negative publicity surrounding her and her family.

Two additional recent examples highlight this point. On July 11, John “Papa John” Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board of his namesake pizza company after it was revealed he had used the N-word during a May conference call. The revelation and the subsequent media circus around Schnatter’s resignation and quarrel with the company he founded has led to decreased sales and a negative stock market outlook for Papa John’s.

The personality linked to a business doesn’t have to be an owner or founder either.

The much-hyped return of the popular 90s sitcom “Roseanne” was abruptly cancelled after series star Roseanne Barr issued a tweet calling former Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.” The episode was a shocking 180-degree turnabout in the fortunes of Barr and the popular show. ABC simply felt it couldn’t handle the massively negative association with Barr, although it did ultimately decide to move forward with a spinoff called “The Conners,” which will include everyone from the cast of the planned “Roseanne” revival except for Roseanne herself.

Equating a brand with a personality can be risky business. While there may be benefits in associating products, services or the company in general with a well-known, well-liked individual, if that person’s star suddenly falls, they can bring the entire organization down with them.

It’s just one of the many considerations that marketers must keep in mind when choosing a name—and creating a brand—for their organizations.


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Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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