Does your family business have customers? If the answer is 'yes' then your brand matters.
Many top-level executives and company leaders choose to ignore branding because it’s often seen as confusing, unimportant, and lacking tangible benefits. They think that a brand is just colors, typeface, and a logo. They believe that branding is only for big businesses with large advertising budgets or companies that sell products to consumers. For these reasons (and probably others), they leave branding to the marketing folks.
In reality, every leader of a family business that has customers (and what business doesn’t?) should care about their brand and not relegate branding activities to the marketing function (no matter how talented your marketing folks are).
What Is Brand?
Your brand is what you stand for in the hearts and minds of your customers. It articulates the unique value you deliver and why your family business exists. A brand is what sets you apart from competition.
Branding is what creates loyalty and reinforces your customers’ choices. Everything your company does that touches the customer is a representation of your brand. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to reinforce what you stand for, why you matter, and how you are unique.
Your brand is also a rallying cry for your organization. It creates purpose and galvanizes employees around a common vision.
A brand makes decision-making more efficient and helps with prioritization of projects and initiatives. Brand creates a means by which to evaluate new programs, new products, and investments. It helps an organization to maintain focus on the activities, initiatives, and behaviors that it values.
What Is Branding?
So, now that we’ve established what a brand is, let’s talk about how you do branding. There are many ways you brand your family business, beyond the obvious marketing tactics.
With every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to reinforce your brand: things like your name, how you answer the phone, your email signature, your business cards, your return policy, your customer service interactions, your office environment, and the products or services that you sell. These are all branding activities that serve to reinforce your company’s brand.
Your Brand Matters.
Considering that all these things impact your customer and create an opportunity to solidify his or her impression of your company, brand should be top-of-mind for every leader who wants their family business to succeed (show me a business leader who doesn’t!). When decisions are made with the brand as your North Star, you reinforce what your company stands for, creating more customer value and increasing loyalty. And, increased customer value and higher loyalty translates to tremendous business value. In other words, brand fuels purpose and, ultimately, profit.
On the flip side, a business without a brand lacks purpose. And without purpose, a brand does not stand out from the competition. And if a brand doesn’t stand out, your business is at risk.
It's Not Complicated.
All that said, branding doesn’t have to be complicated, overly time-consuming, or expensive. It does need to be deliberate, strategic, and consistent. It needs to be kept top-of-mind and at the forefront of decisions.
Very simply, every family business should have a clear articulation of WHO they are, WHAT they uniquely do, HOW they do it, and for WHOM. Having a strong and undeniable point-of-view on these things, infusing it through all levels and all functions at the company, and using it consistently as a North Star is the key.
Brand is the largest source of value creation your family business has. Don’t delegate it. Use it. It matters.
Lastly, It's Legally Enforceable.
By using your brand deliberately, strategically, and consistently, you create messaging your consumers will eventually associate with the goods and services your company offers. This can allow you to prevent competitors from using your key brand identifiers and, if necessary, to take legal action against those using your brand if they confuse your customers or copyright your materials, resulting in injury to your family business.
Your brand rights can be strengthened by seeking registration of those rights with the United States Government, either through the Trademark and Patent Office or the Copyright Office. Registrations with these offices are strong evidence of your rights and can serve as a deterrent against any would-be infringers.