A brave new world of brand: Three frameworks for family businesses
Gone are the days of the 'Five Forces Framework', the Four P’s of 'the Marketing Mix' and the 'Seven C’s Compass'. It's time for brand frameworks which are reflective of, and adaptive to, an ever-changing business climate. We've selected the top new-age frameworks for developing a cohesive brand for your family business.

By Francois Botha
Published on Simple October 2, 2020

Gone are the days of Michael Porter’s ‘Five Forces Frameworks’ where the attractiveness of industries was solely based on their profitability and where the Four P’s of the ‘Marketing Mix’ – Product, Price, Place, Promotion – reigned strong. Even the well-cited Seven C’s of branding – Customer, Consistency, Creativity, Culture, Communication, Change, Channel – is beginning to look a little worse for wear. Though the underlying principles of these theories and frameworks maintain some relevance today, they simply do not cut the mustard in a world which is characterised by continual change. How could they?

In business today, we need theories, frameworks, and systems that are far more dynamic, resilient, and adaptive to change. Unless they can keep up with all those shiny new social media platforms, deep technological advancements, and a constantly evolving virtual marketplace, they are most likely as doomed as the dodo.

Porters and other business pioneers of the past would have a hard time envisioning the state of branding, marketing, and communication today. Aside from the sheer number of channels that need to be monitored and managed, the process through which businesses reach their customers has radically changed. From guerilla marketing to growth hacking to the advent of the “influencer, digitalisation has transformed this field entirely.

Gone are the days of Michael Porter’s ‘Five Forces Frameworks’ where the attractiveness of industries was solely based on their profitability and where the Four P’s of the ‘Marketing Mix’ – Product, Price, Place, Promotion – reigned strong. Even the well-cited Seven C’s of branding – Customer, Consistency, Creativity, Culture, Communication, Change, Channel – is beginning to look a little worse for wear. Though the underlying principles of these theories and frameworks maintain some relevance today, they simply do not cut the mustard in a world which is characterised by continual change. How could they?

In business today, we need theories, frameworks, and systems that are far more dynamic, resilient, and adaptive to change. Unless they can keep up with all those shiny new social media platforms, deep technological advancements, and a constantly evolving virtual marketplace, they are most likely as doomed as the dodo.

Porters and other business pioneers of the past would have a hard time envisioning the state of branding, marketing, and communication today. Aside from the sheer number of channels that need to be monitored and managed, the process through which businesses reach their customers has radically changed. From guerilla marketing to growth hacking to the advent of the “influencer, digitalisation has transformed this field entirely.

Brands as beacons of trust

Today managing a brand is so much more than a great logo, catchy tagline, and the right typography. (Remember cutting and pasting billboard and magazine mockups?) These days, brand management affects all aspects of a business from planning, research and development, and innovation, right through to employee engagement.

53% of consumers state that trust is fundamental in purchase-making decisions, second only to price.
Brand Trust in 2020: Special Report, Edelman Trust Barometer

As choices and channels increase, brand trustworthiness is more important than ever. They serve as beacons of trust in an ever more populated marketplace. In an omnichannel age, an integrated approach to brand management is essential. Managing brands in the 21st century is more about existentialism than the hard sell —we are trying to make sense of who we are and why we exist; about how to connect across cultures and continents. Proceeding from that rather esoteric inquiry can help us determine how market forces today affect different areas of our business and what we need to do about them.

Alongside carrying an immense amount of social and cultural capital, strong brands consistently outperform market competitors. As a family business, if you’re not paying attention to branding you’re missing a trick. The best family businesses have already started to grasp the importance of an authentic, strong, and cohesive brand.

Managing brands is a science, an art, and a craft

But how do you create a brand identity adaptive and resilient enough to survive in a world characterised by continual change? Five-year plans and long-term business strategies are out. No one has an inkling where we’ll be in 2 years, let alone 5 years. What’s more, in a world where everyone and everything is a brand, how do you cut through the noise and establish a unique voice? Simple concepts last. In a complex world, the need for universal models and frameworks that are timeless and easy to understand is greater. When models are easy to understand and based on real-world context people adopt them and adopted ideas and models spread and create change in the world. Where would the Five Forces Framework, the Marketing Mix, and the Seven C’s be without their punchy tag-lines?

Enter the new-age frameworks

Nearly everything today seems to be “templatised,” standardised and “fill-in-the-blanks”. Even though brand management isn’t always so reducible, being part science, part art and part craft, here are some new-age frameworks and tools to help you make sense of how to proceed.

1. Business Model Canvas

Though the Business Model Canvas (BMC) is most commonly used to either document existing business models or develop new ones, many of the building blocks involved are fundamental to the creation of a brand.

Brand symbolism today is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ add-on, but in many cases an articulation of your central value proposition. From a consumer point of view, brand and business are not separated – they are one.

The Business Model Canvas is a graphic tool to visualise the many aspects involved in running a modern business and can be applied to virtually any business on earth. Even a corporation’s most far-flung and isolated departments can use it as a tool to align teams and guide day-to-day decisions in the boardroom. Infinitely flexible, this canvas has also been modified for everything from the Lean Canvas to the Agile Strategy Canvas

and the Family Canvas.

2. Start with Why

Simon Sinek’s award-winning book ‘Start With Why?’ opens with a central provocation: all the great leaders and organisations communicate in the same way. Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers were able to inspire and motivate millions of people. ‘But what do they have in common?’, you might ask. They all started with why.

As Sinek argues, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and when businesses have a clearly defined purpose they are able to flourish. Whilst of course there are other tried-and-tested methods for influencing human behaviour, winning hearts and minds through a purpose-led approach is the most powerful and sustainable approach.

The Golden Circle is a simple but effective framework for businesses, organisations, and individuals to truly understand why they do what they do. Family businesses can use this methodology to align their investments to a greater purpose. If you know your ‘why’, you can survive a thousand ‘hows’. To get started thinking down the right lines watch this TED video.

3. The Primal Code

Like Sinek, Patrick Hanlon’s concept of effective branding starts with constructing a defined belief system that engages and unites all parties. Understanding brands as belief systems allows us to demystify the processes behind some of the biggest and most successful names in the business – Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Nike to name a few.

Primal branding deconstructs a brand into seven pieces of ‘Primal Code’, and provides an a-tried-and-tested methodology for creating an emotive connection between consumer and brand. It is systematic and plays on our most human senses. Organizations build communities to grow. People join communities to connect. Primal code is a way to meet both of these interests

When the seven parts of the Primal Code are in place, a strategic brand narrative is created transforming the brand from being meaningless to meaningful. Family Offices can utilise this to gain a definitive and predictive process for creating an army of zealots.

 

Create Your Own Cult

Each of these frameworks could be used on their own or be combined to form a more holistic view. Consider the role that family businesses play and where there might be natural alignments. Primal branding’s key premise, for example, naturally lends itself to how families already operate.

“We are hard-wired to collect in groups. When you think about families, they are the fundamental unit for us as human beings.”Patrick Hanlon, Primal Branding: Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company and Your Future

Happily or unhappily, there’s no single tool to fix everything. And maybe there shouldn’t be. The task of the modern family business is to explore the options and adopt the elements best suited to them. As the saying goes, “no business plan survives first contact with the customer”. It is also true that no framework survives first contact with the business.

Test and be open to learning. Adopt the best parts and discard the rest. A re-design of your whole family business may not be necessary, but a subtle introduction of different elements of these frameworks could radically change how your family business understands itself and communicates its value. The most exciting innovations can come from a change in process rather than the launch of a new product or building of a new portfolio. When internal processes are re-engineered to meet this brave new world of brand and business, value can be transformed from the inside-out.

The world continues to grow ever more complex. But this complexity need not be seen as a threat to business as we know it. It should be seen instead as an opportunity to return to the drawing board and rediscover the essence of who a family business is, why and how they do what you and where they want to play. The frameworks discussed have the potential to radically change how you understand and communicate your value.

So mix it up—explore the options, communicate with your family members and management about their reactions and feelings to the various models and platforms, and select tools that resonate with your crowd. And if they begin calling you Fearless Leader, just nod and smile.

About the Authors

Francois Botha

Simple Founder. Strategy Advisor

Francois believes that the next generation of family leaders need new, simple tools and trusted experts with a fresh outlook.

Connect with Francois Botha View Francois Botha Profile

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