Fresh out of business school in 2009, I had heard out of this new advertising agency which was in the news for its founders. Both the founding members of the agency were among the most influential people in Indian advertising. I decided to write to the founders asking them for an entry-level role. After scraping the web for information, I finally found a website which had a small introductory note followed by an e-mail address.
A week later one of the founders replied to the mail. The reply was among the best-drafted response, I have received ever for an application. The founders stated they were grateful for the fact that I had considered applying for a role with the agency; however, unfortunately, they were not hiring.
A few years later the agency went on to become the largest independent advertising agencies in India. They still had the same old website which featured a small introductory note and email address. Japnese advertising behemoth Dentsu acquired the agency in 2012. The acquisition was among the largest deals in the Indian advertising space. The agency was ‘Taproot.’
Building a Brand with Founders Influence
It feels odd when you notice that an agency which is entrusted with the task of building your brand doesn’t have any presence of its own. Then again Taproot had its founders who had made a name for themselves. The agency was delivering creative services for marquee brands like Airtel, Pepsi, Times of India etc.
This kind of makes you think what influence really is. As a young SEO expert, you would have probably looked at their old website and said they are never going to improve their domain authority or traffic unless they redesign the site from scratch.
Founders are inseparable from the brands they create. The history is full of high profile examples like Dave Thomas for Wendy’s, James Dyson for Dyson, and Steve Jobs for Apple. However, it’s important to create a brand that exists outside the founder’s identity. Consider this, right now everybody who is buying Tesla is buying into Elon Musk.
Founders can speak with absolute authority and create tremendous brand trust and reliability. But an unforced error from the founder can also cripple the brands they create. Last year Elon’s remarks on taking the company private, nearly wiped out half of Tesla’s market value.
Combing Brand and Founders Influence
To combine brand and founders influence, you have to take the following actions:
- Downplay exposure to founders personal brand to allow more room for the company’s brand to grow.
- Align policies, causes, parties or charities that the founders support with the company’s brand.
- Focus on making your founder as the brand’s brand.