David Lee Roth. Sebastian Bach. Steve Jobs. All three men caused ripples among fan communities when they stepped down. What does the leader singer dynamic teach us about employment branding? We’ll explain.
Hair Bands and Steve Jobs
The hair bands of the 70s, 80s and 90s experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. When they were at the peak of their fame, bands like Skid Row, Van Halen, AC/DC, and Def Leppard had it all – sold-out concerts, and tons of groupies.
These bands had one more thing in common – lineup shakeups that shook up some of their fans the wrong way. For example, when David Lee Roth was replaced by Sammy Hagar as the lead singer of Van Halen, it upset many fans. They felt the band’s sound changed too dramatically, and preferred Roth. While other fans did enjoy Hagar, it left many wondering where the band was going – the fact that the Van Halens were there to stay did not seem to matter.
Steve Jobs just announced his resignation as CEO and already speculation is starting about Apple’s future. Stocks were pushed down the day after the announcement was made, and the Internet is abuzz with rumors about what’s happening. A blow like this can damage your employment branding – employees may be less enthusiastic about working for a brand whose future seems uncertain, even if it’s a great brand like Apple.
Social Network CEOs
Other companies are experiencing similar situations. Lately, Twitter has been a revolving door as various founders leave the company, and some return. The changes seem to leave some people questioning where Twitter is going.
Other brands have leaders who are sticking around for the time being, but are very tightly wound into the overall brand fabric.
For example, can you imagine what might happen if Mark Zuckerberg left Facebook? Zuckerberg the laid-back boy genius has long been a staple of the company’s brand. As the founder and CEO, he is extremely visible and sets the tone for the brand. If he left, this could have a negative impact on the company’s employment brand, but this can be alleviated by promoting other company leaders and culture.
Zappos does this well. An initial investor and CEO, Tony Hsieh, is very much a public face for the brand. But Zappos has moved beyond Hsieh and created a unique corporate culture that would flourish with or without him. This is ideal.
3 Employment Branding Tips
When crafting your employment brand, it’s tempting to show off the dynamic nature and innovative genius of your CEO or other executives. It’s fine to share this with candidates, but make sure it’s not your entire focus.
Here are some handy tips we’ve gleaned from hours of listening to power ballads. (It does take a little patience.)
- Let your overall sound define you – not one voice. It’s almost impossible not to make a lead singer the focal point of your band – but some companies make the mistake of making their leader the focal point of their employment brand. Lead singers add to the sound of the band, but they don’t have to BE it. Your CEO can add nuances to your company’s culture, but if they leave, a new CEO can add to the melody in new and positive ways.
- Even when the lineup changes, let everyone stay with the band. Be positive and supportive when CEOs leave a company. If they leave for new opportunities, wish them well and carry on. If something negative happens, be sure and focus on how this will not have an adverse effect on the company and its culture.
- Present a unified front. If there is change of any kind, it’s important to explain the change and reassure employees and candidates what is staying the same. For example, if there are executive-level changes, reassure the candidates that there are great replacement options, and that the culture remains the same.
If this hair band advice strikes a chord with you, be on the lookout for our next post when we discuss the art of gathering groupies. Oh.yes.we.will.
Photo credit: Metal Sucks