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CEO Influencers: From Faceless to Unforgettable

In 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged Elon Musk committed fraud by tweeting about a potential buyout. This led to Telsa and Musk settling an agreement: Tesla would have Musk’s social media statements reviewed by Tesla lawyers. Now, the SEC is arguing that Tesla and Musk are not following the agreed settlement. From Musk to Jeff Bezos, there are many notable CEO influencers in mainstream media. Liz Goodgold, a branding expert, joined Bold Business to discuss how the personas of prominent CEOs can turn them into brands that often intertwine with the company.

From faceless to unforgettable

Musk is known for his work with Tesla and SpaceX. However, he has transcended to the point where he’s his own brand and a true CEO influencer. Mixed reactions met his recent appearance on SNL, and now people are accusing him of driving the crypto market

Many crypto investors were excited by Musk’s support in the beginning. But as of lately, Musk has gone back and forth on his support for specific cryptocurrencies. First, he tweeted Bitcoin would be accepted for Tesla purchases.

Then, a couple of weeks later, he informed Twitter that Tesla would no longer take Bitcoin due to the “increasing use of fossil fuel energy.” Around this time, crypto shares plummeted

Since that tweet, Musk has tweeted about speaking with Bitcoin miners about better alternatives. However, the back and forth left a lot of investors unhappy. 

Goodgold sees Musk as a brand because of the impact he has on people and society. “If you are a brand, people love you or hate you. Or you’re not a brand,” she said. “Great brands are consistent, compelling, differentiated and unforgettable.”

Bigger than the brand

There is a point where CEOs become bigger than the brand. With the rise of the internet and social media, people can find information quicker than ever before. Goodgold thinks social media has blurred the lines between personal and professional life. Personal information is readily available, and people aren’t able to separate the person from the company. Goodgold sees this as a good and bad thing. It’s good because the brand is unforgettable. But it could also be a bad thing when it’s time to replace a CEO. 

If you are a brand, people love you or hate you.

In the year 2000, Bill Gates stepped down from his role as CEO at Microsoft, but he has always been associated with the company. Even now, his marital issues are being discussed in the same sentence as company matters. And the same can be said for Bezos, who is stepping down as Amazon’s CEO in July. However, he will always be the face of Amazon despite his replacement.

What do you think? Do you associate companies with their CEOs (former or current)? Should business people morph into CEO influencers?

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