From a branding perspective, family business are different by nature of presence, influence and control of family members and their inherent legacy. The brand should provide all the assurances that brands do, without stepping too far from the legacy. While family businesses look similar from a distance and on paper than any other business, they are more entrepreneurial and emotionally-driven on the inside.
For most family businesses, it took years of hard work, passion and creativity to endure the early years. Once established, the community around them became engaged, family and non-family members alike. They worked according to the core values, personality, passions and even the idiosyncrasies of the founder and his/her immediate family.
Like so many companies, over time the brand begins to become blurred, vague and ambiguous. Years of internal changes, especially among non-family executives, and changing market conditions forced this status. Additionally, while family business do a good job in articulating their vision and mission, few articulate their brand in a similar fashion.
While the brand occupies a special, visceral place among a few, most employees do not share the same emotion and clarity with the brand.
The key to navigating your way forward is to take your cues from what’s got you to where you are today. What is the core characteristic that customers come to trust you for? Without being aware of it, somewhere along the way the brand satisfied an undeniable, unwavering human truth. Although it was not written down or formally articulated, it drove success from the early days on.
You need to rediscover that truth and evolve your brand story without losing sight of what customers always treasured most about you.
Once rediscovered, it is critical to document and articulate the brand for yourself and employees. The clarity and focus of a brand can inspire creativity throughout all departments of an organization, well beyond marketing and advertising. A blank canvas by itself does not inspire.
The branding process on the surface is not real different than that for non-family businesses. We go deep and then wide with your stakeholders, customers and prospects. The difference is that knowing your roots and understanding your heritage become essential to the discovery process. They will provide a powerful story and compelling proof to your brand as well as a “backstory” as you move through the future.
As a family businesses, you are a step ahead of companies that lack a genuine, authentic heritage when engaging the branding process. Being different is built-in by nature of the personality of the founders and the family.
The exercise enhances the brand by illuminating and clarifying what has always been there.