What do IKEA, Dr. August Oetker, Ford Motor Company and Wal-Mart have in common? Obviously, they are huge worldwide brands, but less obviously they are all successful family-owned businesses. (Yes, Ford is family-owned.) While virtually no one on earth doesn’t know these names, the multi-generational lineage of these companies has been integral to their success — in the popular zeitgeist, family-owned companies embody stability, longevity, and if nothing else, an ability to get along. Even though branding a family-owned business often starts with the history, at the same time, a family-run business must be versatile and adaptable to survive, so add “tough” to the list of attributes.
The warm and fuzzy factor of family offices
Branding for any business is more than a snappy logo, a marketing budget, excellent product or great customer service — for good or ill there’s always the backstory. Are the principals brilliant teenagers who may or may not flame out tomorrow, or stable grownups who have worked hard to create something real for future generations? While not all family-owned businesses are de facto moral or reliable, a family-owned business nevertheless engenders a strong sense of trust in consumers. Which brings us to the warm and fuzzy factor: family-owned businesses seem more stable, more customer-friendly, more approachable and more trustworthy. Interestingly, even the appearance of a family connection increases market visibility and consumer trust: witness the completely false “family name” of the Haagen Das ice cream brand. Trust equals sales, sales equal profitability. Tell the family story, take it to the bank.
Recognizing and using the value of a family back-story
While many of the truly successful family-owned businesses consider family branding extremely important, not all of them are using this potent marketing tool. One analysis showed that only one-third of the top 100 family businesses in the world actively highlight their brands as family-owned. Actively promoting a multi-generational story grounds your brand in the public mind in a positive way.