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Harking back to its entrepreneurial heritage
From its earliest beginnings, Kodak was a brand as much as a company, Overman says, created by one of the most iconic, innovative men of the late Victorian generation, George Eastman. And he’s finding enormous inspiration in Eastman’s story and brand legacy.
“Eastman is the father of contemporary brand - he invented the word Kodak because he liked the letter K, he was visually precise, graphically brilliant and in many ways, and a self-taught scientist,” Overman says. “It’s an incredible story. So in the case of Kodak, I had to go back to the beginning. So much had gone wrong in recent years, I wanted to back right up to Eastman’s original intentions.”
Overman sought out the young Eastman, visiting the archives of the founder’s museum in New York to dig out pictures of him as a young man. What emerged was a bearded, voguish entrepreneur, who would look at home today amid the hipsters of Surry Hills, Hackney or Dalston in London, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and Silicon Valley.
“One of the first things I did was reintroduce our company to ‘young George’, because it’s young George that created the value instilled in the Kodak brand,” Overman says. He added Kodak is in the process of pitching a film about Eastman’s life.
“He’s the archetype that reminds us that we’re not trying to introduce some hipster element to the brand, this is who founded us and we’ve been neglecting what he was all about. It’s time to reclaim it.”
Up next: How Overman changed the corporate culture, plus ways Kodak plays to bring back its innovation edge