Curating the Creative Genius in Luxury Firms
Charles Aaron Lawry and Sabrina Helm recommended the following strategies for ‘curating’ the creative genius of an iconic leader.
The following is an abstract of the 'Curating the creative genius in luxury firms' chapter of The Management of Luxury.
The success of a luxury brand often depends upon the creative genius of an iconic leader such as a founder, star designer or creative director. Unfortunately, an iconic leader typically maintains a ‘heroic mission’ and avoids the topic of succession management with the hope of controlling the brand forever. In the past, this egocentrism and unpreparedness has probably undermined the faith of luxury brand stakeholders, particularly consumers, employees and investors, thereby jeopardizing the brand image and corporate identity. So, how does an iconic leader maintain his or her heavily protected ‘genius’ while preparing stakeholders for his or her inevitable departure? We suggest that luxury executives should ‘curate’ the creative genius of an iconic leader as part of their succession management. Curating entails the dual processes of documentation and presentation; therefore, we recommend strategies for developing corporate libraries and museums that will foster curating, and encourage luxury firms to use these resources to build upon their creative genius as a competitive advantage.
- If your founder has an expressed ‘heroic mission’ and hinders succession planning, the firm is at risk of being destroyed. Using a curatorial approach, dilution of the brand can be prevented and the heroic leader be convinced that the creative genius remains intact.
- Help your brand to create ‘a mind of its own’. Curatorial approaches let stakeholders identify the creative genius within the iconic leader, but also as a consciousness within the firm that provides a continuous competitive advantage. This will increase the faith amongst customers and board members during the post-succession era.
- Institutionalize knowledge transfer. The tacit knowledge and creativity of the founder are your main sources of competitive advantage. Curatorial approaches aid in capturing, conserving and transmitting knowledge vital for effective succession management.
- Document and present the creative genius. Create a corporate library to give an eventual successor a ‘taste’ of the creative genius and provide a background for the evolution of the firm’s brand identity, as well as its history and core competencies. Build a corporate museum to give permanence to the creative genius as well as educate the firm’s stakeholders and strengthen the corporate identity. Also consider a museum exhibit as it encourages employees and customers to rekindle their attachment to the brand.