While many firms are faceless from the outside – without a recognizable individual that leads the company – others go out of their way to place the founder, CEO, or another member of senior management front and center in how the company is externally portrayed. For some firms, the individual is a key part of the organization’s identity.
This article explores the advantages and disadvantages of personifying your firm by making an individual the face of the organization.
Benefits of making yourself the face of your firm
Benefit 1: Allows you to ride on your pre-existing reputation
Possibly the primary reason to consider making yourself a visible brand ambassador for your company is that it allows the firm to ride off your own pre-existing reputation. If you have already established a strong reputation outside of your current venture, you may be able to leverage that within your new company.
Benefit 2: Allows you to bring your personality into the organization
Putting yourself as the face of the organization may also you to bring your personality into the organization – allowing the firm to ride on a persona that you create. While some people are able to draw on their existing reputation in an industry, others are able to craft the firm with a ‘personality’ mirroring that of their own.
T-Mobile (USA) with John Legere as the CEO is a good example of this – John Legere‘s unconventional style and personality helping to reinforce T-Mobile as the ‘Uncarrier’, disrupting the cell phone industry by doing things differently to other providers.
Benefit 3: Gives it a more personal touch
A final advantage of having a visible brand ambassador is that it can give your firm a more personal touch. Most companies are faceless organizations, that we don’t have a personal connection. By making yourself very visible externally, you can increase how close customers feel to your firm – able to put a face to the organization that they are working with.
A benefit of this is customers may have greater loyalty to your company, even if there are cheaper alternatives or a dimension of service doesn’t live up to expectations. Being a visible contact in the firm may deepen the relationship with customers, encouraging them to continue their loyalty, and to speak about concerns rather than immediately switch suppliers.
Limitations of making yourself the face of your firm
Will the firm outlive your presence?
Making yourself a very visible brand of your company should not be a long-term decision. It is hard to remove yourself from the role at a later point in time. While it may seem a long time off, it can use useful to at least consider whether this is something that you want to be directly associated with in the long term. Whether for example, the firm becomes so associated with your brand identity that if you were to want to leave the company, its operations would be significantly impacted.
Do you want to be the brand ambassador?
Whether you want to be the face of your firm is also a personal choice. Some individuals love the publicity of being the face of their company. However, becoming famous is not everyone’s goal, and making yourself so central to the face of the company comes with its own psychological tole. You can’t disassociate yourself so easily from actions taken by the firm and criticism of the company may feel more personal.
Will customers have an expectation of working with you directly?
Another consideration before making yourself the face of your organization is whether it sets expectations that customers will be directly interacting with you. Clearly this is not always an expectation: someone buying a Tesla does not expect it to be personally sold by Elon Musk, however, if you are a relatively small firm, customers may have the expectation that they will be interacting directly with you. There is thus the potential of thus creating a discrepancy between customer expectations and reality.
Will the firm look small as a result?
The final thing that you should consider about making yourself the face of your organization is whether it will make your company look small as a result (and whether that may discourage sales).
While there are large firms where the founder is very visible as the face of the company, there is also a danger of it appearing as a very small one-person firm. Particularly if you are dealing with large B2B sales, you may not want to convey that you are a small solo entrepreneur, potentially ill-equipped for handling large commercial sales.