Family business tip #5 – “Adding Value to Your Family Brand.”

Recently, I purchased a pair of Simon Pearce martini glasses for my wife. Yes, they cost more, and with two kids in the house, we will handle them precariously knowing that each drink might cost us $60 if broken. Yet, the design is exquisite, the feel is unique, and the knowledge that this product was crafted in a Vermont by a family I know and admire, made that purchase a success. My wife’s reaction when she opened them validated my decision.

This is what brand is, and why family businesses hold such a distinct advantage when it comes to branding themselves. It is also an ongoing challenge to maintain that brand when the business approaches succession, much like Simon Pearce is going through now.

At this year’s 777 Panel at the Vermont Business and Industry Expo, Ross Evans, Marketing Director at Simon Pearce explained his epiphany in his new position. During a product presentation by a designer, a potential design flaw was mentioned. Simon, always patient and often stoic, finally broke silence and declared, “We will never sacrifice function for form.” With that simple statement, Simon had declared the brand voice, personality, consistency, product differentiation and promise. It was then that Ross had his marching orders as he prepared to carry the Simon Pearce brand into the next century.

Why is adding value to your brand important?

  • When it comes time to transition the business to new ownership, the brand must be able to survive into a future generation.
  • Family businesses often have a unique advantage when leveraging their family business brand and name.
  • Customers often associate family business with longevity, stability and great customer service.
  • Alignment: Organizational identity and family identity therefore can be more or less closely related.

What are important brand drivers?

  • Personality
  • Differentiation
  • Voice
  • Consistency
  • Promise

Why do some families resist leveraging their family brand?

  • Often, family businesses may be seen as small or behind the times.
  • People often associate family business with nepotism and in-fighting.
  • When someone from the family “steps out of line” it may affect the family brand and name.

Where to start?

  • Assessment:
    • What type of family business are you dealing with?
    • Is the strategic intent to keep the business within the family?
    • Is the family involved in day-to-day management?
  • Start with your customers – consider a “Customer Advisory Board.”
  • Tell your story
    • Simon Pearce
    • S.C. Johnson “A Family Company”
  • Leverage your marketing team or professionals.
  • Tools like Twitter and Facebook provide a readily accessible platform for businesses to create a voice and reach a wide audience.

Some relevant stats:

  • Survey of UK public showed that 62% already think that family firms often provide better customer service than other types of business.
  • People employed at family companies identify more strongly with their company, and display higher loyalty and work satisfaction than those employed at similar, non-family-owned companies (Beehr, et.al., 1997; Vallejo, 2008).
  • The founder’s role is often claimed to be most important in defining ‘who family businesses are’. (Kelly et. al., 2000; Denison et. al. 2004).
  • Family companies are perceived to be more innovative, dynamic, transparent and creative.
  • Family businesses are perceived more positively when compared to their counterparts (Nyenrode University/FD, 2008).
  • Promoting a family-based brand identity has proven to positively influence buying behavior.’

For a video link of this tip, please go to: http://www.wcax.com/story/14671382/family-businesses-perceived-as-more-innovative

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