Marketing Your Business: The Importance of Face
Heads of multinational corporations must be more than shrewd businesspeople. To raise their company's profile, they must let the public know their personality.
Lewis Hackney, founder of Etch’d, explains the importance of business leaders showing a human side.
In today’s hyper-competitive markets, connecting with your stakeholders in an original and authentic way has never been so vital to gaining credibility and winning trust. Established players – especially in industries such as finance and investment, which can be considered by those outside of them as somewhat grey and corporate – need a human voice that emotionally resonates.
Yet many businesses continue to operate with very little of a human face, issuing bland and emotionless statements from a generic spokesperson, or failing to transmit any warmth through their brand identity.
The human brain does not want to interact with a corporate machine; the human brain wants to interact with other humans. This is especially relevant to investment businesses, which – with the number of scams and bad investments on the rise – need to go that extra mile to secure credibility and trust. Turning your organisation from a faceless business to a faced business allows you to do just that.
In generations gone by, despite the lack of internet and social media, it was arguably easier to establish and maintain a face for your business. Many more businesses 50 or 100 years ago were family businesses, passing from generation to generation, which afforded them a considerable degree of trust. With so many established family-branded businesses having died out, this isn’t the case anymore.
Today, businesses in the US (of all shape and size) have become much better at ‘forging a face’ than us in the UK. CEOs and founders in the States take it upon themselves, as a responsibility, to create their own visible brand. This offers both a human dimension to their business, but also enables them to serve as role model and inspiration to young people – something that is hugely important in an age of C-list celebrities, get-rich-quick gurus and TikTok ‘influencers’.
The human brain does not want to interact with a corporate machine; the human brain wants to interact with other humans.
In recent times Elon Musk has become one such example, with his unique vision, quirkiness and colour building his portfolio of companies a unique audience. American property and business entrepreneur Grant Cardone is another example; Cardone isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but through his own personality and face he managed to raise the most money ever through a social media campaign.
What is the secret to their ‘face’ success? Authenticity. Both Musk and Cardone are themselves, irrespective of the audience. Of course, when on stage for example, I would recommend any business owner to try and be as polished as possible. But visibility coupled with authenticity – authentic visibility – are excellent principles upon which to establish your business’ face.
Building a face to a business needn’t be overly complicated. The first thing to start with is the core story – who you are, what you do, how you do it, but perhaps most importantly why you do it. What is your mission and purpose? What is your inspiration? What have been your struggles or the brand’s along the way?
It may seem silly now for a large multinational organisation to be talking about its struggles in its early days, but doing so adds a huge amount of authenticity and relatability.
Conveying this journey through the eyes and voice of the CEO (a human) rather than through the voice of the business (non-human) makes you personally relatable and adds trust, and therefore by extension makes your business more relatable and trustworthy.
Doing so can be as simple has making sure your website has photos and bios of your key staff, which helps foster a warm family image and is another way of increasing visibility and transparency. You would be surprised how many large organisations don’t do even this. As a CEO, having yourself and team members contribute to business podcasts, blogs, business advice pieces and social media also all helps build a human aspect to the business.
Even in the case of public businesses, whose heads have to fit into a narrative that has already been pre-set before them, and whose identity and message has to resonate with the shareholders: being yourself, being visible, and being authentic – even if a little unconventional or rough around the edges – will resonate better than any anonymous corporate spokesperson ever could.