The Playboy brand is one of the most recognized brands in the world, and since it debuted over half a century ago, one man has championed and protected that brand — Hugh Hefner. In fact, Hefner believed so whole-heartedly in the brand promise that Playboy offered to consumers that he intentionally became the physical embodiment of the Playboy brand. He reinvented his own image multiple times in order to live the Playboy brand promise, and consumers believed him.
The fundamental lesson to learn from Playboy and Hugh Hefner is that every brand should have a dedicated, passionate brand champion and guardian behind it. That person should believe in the brand, advocate it, educate others about it, and protect it at all costs.
Does your brand have such a person behind it? If not, you’re missing an important piece of the branding puzzle.
Other brand champion role models exist, such as Steve Jobs of Apple and J.K. Rowling for her Harry Potter brand. However, the longevity of Hugh Hefner’s role as brand champion for the Playboy brand is unprecedented. It could be argued that without his relentless advocacy and protection, the Playboy brand would have faded years ago. Even today, while the Playboy company struggles to remain solvent, the Playboy brand remains one of the most recognized brands in the world. That means, the Playboy brand still has incredible value, but since brand value is intangible, I have to wonder if that’s enough.
I explore Hugh Hefner’s role as the ultimate brand champion in my book, Building Brand Value the Playboy Way, and I discuss J.K. Rowling’s role as brand champion and brand guardian in Harry Potter: The Story of a Global Business Phenomenon. Both stories are incredibly educational and inspirational, and if you don’t know how these two people affected the success of the brands they advocate, I highly recommend that you take the time to read their stories. They provide lessons that every brand manager and marketer can learn from and apply to their own brand strategies.
You can read more about brand champions in these articles on Corporate Eye:
- The Brand Champion Exit Strategy – Lessons from Apple and Steve Jobs
- The Brand Champion Exit Strategy Redux – Lessons from Apple and Steve Jobs
- The 6 Hats of a Chief Brand Officer
- Harry Potter: The Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Susan Gunelius is Published
Who do you think is the ultimate brand champion?
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