It’s finally been revealed today that Chris Evans will take the host spot for Top Gear.
After much speculation, and hot on the heels of his great TFI return, the BBC Radio Two breakfast presenter will now head the much loved car show – with a new crew yet to be announced.
The arrival of a new head figure is always an interesting and exciting time for a brand, no matter how well established it may be.
It’s a time for seeing whether the identity and context will witness a significant overhaul, and whether the customer-base / audience will stick around with the fierce loyalty it previously had.
You can go right the way to a company the scale of Apple to see how a shift in helm impacts a business.
After all, the Apple name was hardly in its infancy when Steve Jobs resigned and subsequently died. However, share price saw a nervous time when it came to looking at who would take over the lead and drive the brand forward.
Personally, I like Chris Evans and I like the style with which he’s gone about taking over the role (and I know there will be plenty of you out there scoffing at that comment).
Here’s why I think the whole story has been a neatly played one in terms of the brand’s preservation:
Honesty and Openness:
Yes, this is the first point which will get you all saying “but he denied he wanted the role and said he wouldn’t take it”.
True. He did.
He also amended that comment to never say never.
But my over-riding point here is that honesty and openness has been a feature of the announcement and today, Chris has detailed the whole story of how and why he changed his mind and the nature of his communications with his outgoing predecessors.
Bear in mind the frank and full messaging to your audience if you’re bringing in a new helm. Let people understand why it’s happening, and why that person.
Involve the Core Audience:
Today, Chris jumped straight on to the opportunity to engage his social media and listening audience in ‘what we should do next’.
It doesn’t so much matter whether the Radio 2 listeners are subsequently responsible for changing the show’s context.
What matters is that he’s throwing the question out there and engaging with the audience.
He recognises that ‘they care’ about who hosts this much loved programme.
Bear that in mind at significant points of business restructure and management. Your audience appreciate the opportunity to feed back and get involved.
Custodianship is the Key:
Finally, this stuck in my mind and is something I say to a lot of business leaders or in-house marketers when they’re involved in progressing a brand.
Chris remarked today ‘I’m looking after Top Gear for you’.
My comment to business brand managers is often ‘you’re a custodian of that brand’, by which I mean the brand is not you and you are not the brand. Instead, you are the person entrusted with ensuring it lives up to expectation.
Be mindful of that important and delicate role as you evolve any brand and see yourself as more the custodian than the all-important centre of attention.
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