If you were starting a business today, whose brand would you want to leverage? The august American poet with a junkyard voice? The eclipse of the sun beauty with enough sex appeal to melt a star? Or who the hell is Conrad Hilton?
Let’s think about this in business terms. In metaphorical and pragmatic terms. If you were selling just about anything but stuck-in-the-sixties Volvos, you would want Paris over Bob. So you call her agent, pay her a zillion dollars and presto, you are a genius. “We got Paris! We got Paris!”
A feat comparable only to the Manhattan project (in the eyes of the mega budget Clio drooling crowd that calls themselves marketers). And Ms. Hilton may help sell your stuff for a while, but forgive me but I am driving to a bigger issue here. For most of us, the goal is to build enduring businesses as opposed to here today, gone tomorrow cooleramas. Dylan has been a major brand, a mini industry, for four decades. And one that has accomplished something of true and timeless significance.
In four decades, Paris Hilton will be as cool and as magnificent as the Pet Rock, The Chia Pet. Odds are she will not even be remembered. Except perhaps for a vague connection to the titan who built a great and enduring business and bankrolled Paris’ ascension up the trajectory of zero-substance global heroes.
Which brings us to Conrad. Long after “Like A Rolling Stone” is elevator music and Paris is just a city again, millions will be gambling in Hilton’s casinos, sleeping in his hotels and drinking in his bars. Conrad’s that is.
As responsible and visionary businesspeople, we must ask ourselves:
- How do we build a company with legs?
- How do we balance fashion with substance?
- How do we declare constructive war on our businesses so that they never get complacent?