Wednesday, September 21, 2011
As readers of Ad Aged well know, I think most of the advertising and marketing that IBM does is second to none. Yes, it doesn't win awards. It isn't cool, au courant and flashy. It's simple, smart, approachable and propagates big ideas. (If our industry judged work based on anything other than what's notorious and cool, IBM, IMHO would sweep many an award show.) They don't do creativity for creativity's sake. They do honest work that moves people--and their stock price.
In any event I've just come across the video pasted above and the last 10 seconds or so really struck me.
In them Sam Palmisano talks about how leaving a company a better place than you found it is what matters, is how a leader should be judged. However, too often, way too often, leaders spend their time cultivating their personal brands as opposed to moving their companies forward.
This is the curse of our age. A triumph of patina over foundation.
Everyone from the president, to the presidential contenders, to junior art directors are out cultivating their personal brands. Consider it a slash and burn strategy applied to everything. Doing doesn't matter, achievement is secondary or tertiary or quadriary. Boasting about things rules.
BTW, the current Republican candidates' infatuation with corndogs seems an apt illustration. Eating a corndog at a state fair, some strategist somewhere has posited, is proof that you're "one of the people." So every Republican and his cousin has been shown in some fellatio-esque shot scarfing such a monstrosity. An image as apropos for a Mitt Romney as Michelle Bachman at a Mensa meeting.
Years ago I went to a Miami Ad School portfolio review. One thing I noticed is that everyone had a resume with their picture on it, usually striking some sort or nonchalant or asinine pose. All these students had been trained, honed and perfected into personal brands.
But what's missing in personal brands and is missed by the people who cultivate them is that brands in and of themselves, brands devoid of accomplishment and spine, are meaningless.
Apple would be nothing if they didn't actually make something.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 11:30 AM