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HR Magazine, January 2004 - Keeping the Image Alive

By Pamela Babcock  1/1/2004
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HR Magazine, January 2004

Vol 49, No. 1

Charles Schwab is still actively involved in the investment firm he founded, Charles Schwab & Co., yet the business is already planning how it will carry on using his image when he’s gone.

The firm “is slowly and very deliberately staging Chuck’s separation from the company,” says author John Kador, who studied the organization for his book Charles Schwab: How One Company Beat Wall Street and Reinvented the Brokerage Industry (John Wiley & Sons, 2002).

Charles Schwab’s personal employment contract contains specific language that allows the company to use his image and likeness “so the company gets full use of all those branding items,” Kador says.

“Every company needs to be able to legally protect the rights to that image,” says Kador, “which can sometimes create a conflict if the founder leaves the company and wants control of his own name.”

Some founders don’t want their personalities to become the public images of their companies -- but even in these situations, compromises can be struck. For example, Kador says the founders of Johnson & Johnson resisted attempts to use their personal images but did allow their signatures to be used, leading to the Johnson & Johnson signature logo, “one of the oldest and most trusted corporate logos in the world,” according to Kador.

“Could J&J have done even better had they developed one of the Johnson clan into a Dr. Spock-like icon of baby care products?” he asks. “We’ll never know.”

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