Brand Summit: The Why, How, and When of Family Business Brands

Recently I attended the S. Dale High Family Business Center’s Brand Summit. The session was led by Kae Groshong Wagner of North Star Marketing

The session would have been valuable for anyone trying to grow their organization, but it had a particular focus for family business. 

Every business wants a unique competitive advantage, but often confuses this with differentiation. In a family business, the family name can be a truly sustainable competitive advantage (unique benefit…sticky…hard to copy). 

“Familiness” is a unique bundle of resources a particular company has because of the interaction of the family, its individual family members, and the business with one another. 

Why Branding Matters? 

  • Your Brand Promise declares who you are.
  • Gives clarity and cohesion to the buying experience.
  • Gives differentiation and positioning.
  • Lowers sales resistance – speeds up sales cycle.
  • Can create trust and relationship.
  • Reflects pricing strategy.
  • Recreates reputation – brand needs to be reflected in pricing.
  • Adds value to balance sheet. 

A key point Kae made was that 87% of brand is based on your people. Therefore, branding needs to go inside first. Need to train people on who you are and why you exist. Once this is complete, then you take the brand outside to the marketplace. 

The critical steps to building your brand and making it stick: 

1.  Create Your Imagery.

  • Logo/Color.
  • “Look”/Style/Tone/Attitude.
  • The Power of Place.
  • Image as Symbol.
  • “What image comes to mind when your buyer recalls your brand?” 

2.  Develop your messaging.

  • Words that convey who you are.
  • Tagline/Slogan.
  • Analogies/Comparisons/Connections.
  • Reason you exist.
  • Brain Clicks.
  • Memorability. 

3.  Showcase your people.

  • The Living, Breathing Part of Your Brand.
  • Your People = Your Brand (87%)
  • Trade-offs and Forgiveness.
  • "Do you care?" (Employee Engagement)
  • Training, Repetition, Frequency. 

Branding builds value and trust in your company and its line of products and/or services. By giving your buyers clear and consistent messages about your brand and experiences with your brand, you are giving them a shortcut to deciding that you are the preferred provider. 

Kae shared a handout called “Your Brand Roadmap.” If you would like this handout, please contact me

The session closed with a great case study by the fine folks of Stauffers of Kissel Hill as they shared their story of a family business rebranding.

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by Scott Heintzelman - Scott is a CPA, CMA and CFE living in Pennsylvania. Scott is a partner serving on the executive team at McKonly & Asbury LLP, a regional accounting firm with multiple offices in the Mid-Atlantic. The firm has been an IPA ALL-STAR as well as winning Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania for numerous years.

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