What I love so much about working with family business is their genuine unfleeting passion, even amongst non-family members. There is just a different energy, something that runs far deeper than just making money. For this reason it’s both incredibly fulfilling and also challenging to even consider changing or building a family-run brand. Particularly if it’s a second or third generation brand.
The main and most important factor when working through the brand building process is to acknowledge the relationships between the people and the vision they are living into. Unlike non-family businesses the people you are working with are likely to be working in the business for their entire career, they are all-in so to speak and far more committed to the long term vision.
As a brand strategist, this makes my heart very happy as I know that a brand is not built on fleeting moments and clever campaigns but rather the consistent story you tell over time, that is built over years not days, weeks or even months. True brand building infiltrates every facet of the business from sales to finance to operations. It’s intertwined with the business strategy and lives out on the office floor not hidden in a drawer collecting dust.
When a group is united to a greater vision with strength and consistency, individual desires and short-term agendas become less important. This is crucial when making long-term decisions and is one of the factors that can be a huge advantage for family businesses over their non-family business counterparts who often have to answer to bosses, head office, or shareholders.
A key driver when building a family-run brand is that individual family members have to learn to work together, especially when it comes to the changing of the guard, and the older generation handing over the reins to their sons and daughters. Each individual family member has to understand that they alone are not the brand.
The brand is a separate living entity, and there are things that a brand would and wouldn’t do, that individuals might do differently.
This is where a clear brand strategy can help. It creates clarity and aligns individual personalities. And this is about more than just ‘business’, it’s about connection and relationships. Without this clarity, conflict between individuals in the business is likely to come up.
The brand building process has to take into account the nuances and complexities of family members working together. The steps are the same as they would be for any business but the approach, communication and expectation management is completely different. It is incredibly important to bring the right partner onboard, who understands this wholeheartedly and is willing to dive right in and do the work.
Nothing is more rewarding than articulating the stories of a family owned business through their strategy and identity, the DNA.
Seeing the success that brings to the business over time is worth more than its weight in gold.
I have had the privilege of working with many family run brands over the years in Australia and in Finland. If you would like to know more about how we work contact me.
–Megan Järvinen, Brand Strategist, Ahooy Creative
Header photo credits: Photo by Chris Ross Harris on Unsplash