Wednesday, May 16


It was the sweatshirt seen 'round the world, but in my book it was just a consistent expression of an obviously compelling brand experience.

I'm talking of course about Mark Zuckerberg's clothing choice for his IPO road trip - his signature hoodie.  While many thought it disrespectful and others saw it as an expression of the defiant Silicon Valley culture, in reality to me it is just a core part of the Mark Zuckerberg brand.

This man built an empire, wearing a hoodie every step of the way ... it wouldn't be his "brand" to suddenly show up in a three-piece suit looking all Wall Street.  THAT wouldn't make sense, when you really think about it.  And when you think about it, his brand is growing daily so something is going right.  Even GM's news of dropping Facebook ads didn't stop the IPO from growing 25% over night.

So sure, when in Rome ... but he is selling his brand hard this week, so why would he walk away from his "look" now, just to fit in with someone's else notions?  It would have come off as insincere.

Steve Jobs always wore a black mock turtleneck, as far as I can tell.  Not sure what Martha Stewart wore, but you can bet she was on brand.

The question is:  what would you wear for your IPO?  Me, a colorful Paul Smith shirt!  I'd consider nothing else.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect series
Professor, NYU


  1. As someone in the PR/marketing business, I understand that many times there is a true dichotomy between a personal brand and a corporate brand. Any good PR/marketing professional is capable of finding that rare spot where the two can cohabitate nicely. I would certainly never attempt to steer Mark Zuckerberg away from his principles, philosophies, or ideals, but when it comes to the hoodie and an IPO roadshow (where part of the purpose is for people to meet you and take interest), yes, I would have gently/politely encouraged him to leave it at home. You want people to notice you - not your hoodie.

  2. Good point - and I thought about that too - what's the message you want people to walk away with? My IPO or my clothing choice? But for me, it ended up being about not just his personal brand but the brand he established. IMHO. JIM

  3. So interesting that Mark Zuckerberg DID wear a suit and a tie to his own wedding this Saturday! Wonder what that says about him and his brand.

  4. Hmmmm ... guess his (now) wife has more influence on him than Wall Street. JIM