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Brian, I think your analysis is spot-on. Having experienced this myself from 2008-2014 while an executive at Ford, I can personally attest to the push-and-pull going on between institution and individual. On the one hand, there was no eclipsing (nor was there an attempt to eclipse) a brand like Ford, with its storied heritage and family connection.

On the other hand, the people with whom I interacted online (customers, dealers, investors, the public) appreciated having a face and a voice to connect with. It was an early example of "humanizing" the brand, and it was very successful.

As you say, this will be a pendulum constantly swinging, and there will be harsh critics and fervent advocates. Those who understand how to harness the power of a personal brand and connect it in a realistic and feasible way to an institutional brand will be the beneficiaries - as will those who interact with them.

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