Those of us in branding admire often strive to learn from the world’s great brands. These are the brands that always seem to know who they are, what they do, and how to do it. But when you think about it, so many of them are founder-led and/or first generation. It’s hard to think of Virgin without Richard Branson, Google without Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Southwest without Herb Kelleher, Craigslist without Craig Newmark, and Ben and Jerry’s without, well, Ben and Jerry.
The world witnessed Apple without its founder once before: The company lost its way, went “corporate,” and nearly went bankrupt. Only the residue of the great brand saved it for long enough that Jobs could return and change our world (four times, in fact). This has happen to other brands as well.