The Value (and Roadblocks) of Rebranding a Family Business
If you own or work for a family business, you know the legacy that built the business – or continues to build the business – means everything to the family. The people are often the brand, and as the company grows or evolves its offering, this brand identity can sometimes become an afterthought or somewhat murky. “We’re the brand,” the family might say. But every family member may have a different point-of-view on what this means. And, of course, your customers may also have a different opinion.
All this uncertainty could have you thinking: maybe it’s time for a rebrand.
Rebranding a family business can be an exciting and energizing proposition – invigorating an organization to take a fresh look at who they are and who they want to be. However, the process for a generational business can also involve a fair amount of debate, tough decisions – and emotion. Throw in family dynamics and the thought of rebranding can be downright scary.
There’s no question that generational businesses often face unique challenges when it comes to growth and evolution – including rebranding. How can you overcome these challenges? Consider these tips to keep your rebrand grounded in fact, and keep family emotions in check.
Make Sure the Change is Necessary
Before you engage resources in refreshing your family business brand, consider if the change is necessary. Have you expanded recently? Added more or new products and services? Has your business structure changed or your territory expanded? Was the business recently purchased? Has who you are and what you do become unclear over the years?
The main trigger that spurs our generational business clients into rebrand action is the succession of the younger generation of leadership wanting to make their mark on the brand. This generational shift is often when fresh perspective and ideas take center stage.
These are all good triggers to start the rebranding process because they indicate that your business is in the midst of a change.
Rebrand Holistically Not Just Superficially
Rebranding is more than just changing a logo or incorporating new colors into your brochure. A rebrand should include a complete evaluation of your brand strategy. This includes taking a fresh look at assets like brand positioning and architecture as well as your mission, vision and values. These assessments help align and inspire all stakeholders, which is necessary when family is at the core of your business. With these items clearly defined and agreed upon, your brand’s personality, style and tone can take shape.
Is your family business ready for its next chapter?
Our brand strategists are here to support you.
Assign a Lead – and Honor It
Ever heard the phrase, “too many cooks in the kitchen?” Too many conflicting opinions can lead to a messy situation or – even worse – no progress. With generational businesses, there are often lots of players with varying roles throughout the business. Each of them feels like they have a stake in the rebranding because it is “their” family business. The best course of action is to assign family members or stakeholders key roles and responsibilities early in the process. Evaluate each member’s skills and expertise and recognize where they can contribute. You’ll want to have one primary person responsible for coordinating and consolidating the family’s feedback throughout the process. Most importantly, assign and agree to one to two key decision makers who can assure decisions get made. It’s critical to make sure everyone feels heard and valued; however, the primary decision-maker should be identified from the onset of the project.
Get Help from the Outside
We often tell our clients that it’s hard to read the label from inside the jar. When you’re too close to a situation – which is the case for many family businesses – this insider perspective is even more challenging. The brand is tied to the family, which is a personal and emotional connection that’s hard to overcome. If the brand has been closely tied to your family for generations, your family’s patriarch/matriarch may be the brand. This can make changing or evolving the brand even more emotionally difficult. This is where an outsider’s perspective can help. We work with generational businesses to identify which personality traits are true to the business and which values transcend company-wide, versus the ones that have been solely inherited from the family leaders. See how we helped one family business honor their past while looking ahead.
Respect History but Look Towards the Future
It’s important that your company has a solid brand foundation that can live on for generations, no matter who is at the helm. Change is always uncomfortable. But, when you’re asking to change grandpa’s hand-drawn logo, it isn’t always well-received. Overcoming these emotions means recognizing and respecting them. Again, an outsider’s perspective can often aid with this delicate balancing act of change vs. tradition. First, we need to identify which elements of the brand are no longer aligned with the current state. Then, we’ll work to find out exactly what components people are holding onto and what they are willing to let go. Then we can determine where we zig and where we need to zag to honor the legacy of your generational business, while setting you up for success down the road.
Position Yourself for Success When Rebranding a Family Business
Working in a family-owned business is a beautiful legacy, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. At Muse, we’ve helped dozens of family businesses recognize those challenges and overcome them by working through a proven rebranding and strategy process. We’re careful to build on the foundation set by the past while positioning your business for your vision of the future.
Our team can help you get started and help you manage every challenge along the way. Connect with one of our brand strategists to learn more.
About the Author
Megan Factor is a Content Manager at Muse and a passionate creator, both professionally and personally. She developed her content marketing skills working in a wide range of industries and pulls inspiration from her diverse experiences. Her keen eye for design, penchant for writing, and love of good storytelling work together to create meaningful content that provides value to clients.
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