Brands can come in two forms: with or without a face.
A face brand has a human being spearhead the charisma of the organization or group. Think Elon at Tesla and SpaceX, Richard Branson at the Virgin Group, or Do Kwon at Terra.
A faceless brand intentionally chooses not to use a person's face. Here, an amorphous persona drives the organization or group through mystery and curiosity.
Some examples of faceless brands:
- Prophet Muhammad. For most Muslims it's an absolute prohibition - Muhammad, or any of the other prophets of Islam, should not be pictured in any way. Pictures - as well as statues - are thought to encourage the worship of idols
- Satoshi Nakamoto. The anonymous name used by the creator(s) of Bitcoin. Although the name Satoshi Nakamoto is often synonymous with Bitcoin, the actual person that the name represents has never been verified.
Why are faceless brands effective? The reason is that faceless brands design a curiosity gap. People have an innate desire to piece the puzzle together. Mystery, by nature is attractive. In a way, the choice to go faceless is really leveraging something I call "curiosity-as-a-strategy". People keep asking: who is this person? The pursuit to close the curiosity gap drives the brand.
Reveal your Face
One idea is to begin faceless, then reveal your true face at a future date. I believe Marshmellow, the DJ, did this well. Marshmello’s identity was kept top secret for a while there, but he was revealed to be DJ Christopher Comstock (who also goes by Dotcom) back in 2017. The UNMASKING happened on May 19, 2016, which made for a good PR splash. You can see here how they leveraged curiosity to build the Marshmellow brand initially.
Sometimes, it's smarter to go faceless.