The concept of brands is something which has always attracted me as they are arguably the most essential element of any business venture, yet when created and developed well brands have the potential to outlive not only the people and the company that created them, but even the entire industry they first operated within. A great brand is like an immortal symbol chugging along through space and time, being managed by a plethora of people and adapting to its surroundings while continuously representing a certain set of values and traits. Everyone involved with the launch of Coca-Cola in 1886 is dead today, yet Coca-Cola lives on as vividly as ever.
Having worked at a company which owns many consumer brands and seen the rather copious turnaround of brand managers during my years there has given me an appreciation of the continuity of brands. As it swiftly moves from one manager to the next, the brand picks up bits and pieces of their personalities along the way and unapologetically continues on without them when they move on to new assignments. Every brand manager feels that the brand is ‘theirs’ during their tenure, but who really serves whom in this relationship? The brand will remain when the manager is gone, so perhaps it is actually the brand that temporarily owns the manager, or at least their services.
While the creators of brands might feel that they are their children, just like a child the brand will eventually live its own life and no longer be controlled by its maker. Influences from other people and its environment might send it on a path which the original creator never could have foreseen or even imagined. But just as children do, the brands that from the beginning have been equipped with strong and positive values will mature in a direction which would make their makers proud and continue flourishing long after the original creator has let them loose.