Brand Leadership: Navigating the Changing Landscape of Silicon Valley

Brand Leadership: Navigating the Changing Landscape of Silicon Valley

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer
[photo credit: jdlasica via photo pin cc]

Last month, two Silicon Valley stalwarts saw leadership changes, reinforcing the reality that in times of change, those at the top must inspire excitement for the brands they lead.  Marissa Mayer, a longtime public figure at Google and responsible for some of the company’s most recognizable products, took on a new role as CEO at rival Yahoo!, while Paul Maritz, the CEO of VMware, who led a small virtualization startup to become a $5B leader in data center transformation and IT-as-a-Service, will move on to take a broader role at parent company EMC. In both cases, people are watching closely to see how effectively these new leaders can establish a clear brand vision for their companies.

Mayer has her work cut out for her. As the fifth CEO in the last five years at Yahoo!’s helm, she must define a vision and set a clear path for the company to follow – a feat that her predecessors failed to accomplish. Yahoo! has not evolved with technological changes in advertising and the rising influence of social media, and continues to struggle to define itself. Until Mayer can steer the Yahoo! brand in a clear direction, the company will not attract and retain the talent, advertisers, and investors it needs to return to its former powerhouse status. Not surprisingly, this week several top Yahoo! executives left the company.

In contrast, Maritz is leaving VMware well-positioned to expand its role as an industry leader (full disclosure: VMware is a client of ours). The brand vision and direction he instilled at VMware over the last four years set a foundation the company should be able to build from in the coming years.

Change is a constant in the dynamic business environment of Silicon Valley.  As top leaders swap companies and titles, however, they must be able to build, sustain and enhance the brands they lead. The success of any company depends heavily on leadership’s ability to instill confidence in what lies ahead, by clearly articulating their brand vision, generating enthusiasm internally and externally, and navigating the company forward in single direction.

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