How and why family businesses increase sales through better brands


There’s something special about a company with togetherness running through its core because its brand boasts deep-rooted family values which other corporate-led firms often struggle to offer.
This inherent integrity isn’t solely limited to family firms though – after all many companies work hard to establish, and stay true to, family values, whether or not there’s a bloodline in the business.
Brand in a business should not be confused or underestimated. Quite simply, brand is business and business is brand. It conveys purpose and a manifestation of culture and values because it reflects what an organisation does, why it exists, and how it behaves commercially.

Purposeful brands matter more because it’s simply not about having a pretty logo or a catchy name – it’s about a company’s truth and identity. It’s that kind of honesty which is often unique to a family-run business – and crucial in generating commercial longevity.


So, does a company boasting generations of heritage have an advantage over others?

Well, when understanding values, yes because there’s a story to tell with pride and authenticity. Its history is unrivalled and exclusive, and there can be a willingness from employees to keep the brand reputation – and family name – intact.

Companies that care about customers and staff, develop trust. And when people understand the direction, and are personally invested, that helps them be more personable and flexible, and much more likely to maintain – and buy into – core values.

However, even with trust, values and authenticity, that still doesn’t mean an organisation will automatically generate sales – although those elements can certainly align everybody with the vision, strategy and process, to give a fighting chance.


Three bedrocks of a better brand

When working with businesses, it’s critical to consider three bedrocks of a better brand for the company to experience true success – these being purpose, principles and personality.
When it comes to brand purpose, family firms have to understand how it stands out – and this goes beyond financial gain. What does the business really care about? What difference is it trying to make? And why does it matter?

Then there are the principles to outline. These are integral to behaviour and how the business is run, as well as underlining what it truly stands for.
Finally, personality defines who the company is, and how it’s known. A simple way of determining this would be to ask the question, ‘If the business was a person, what would they be like?’


The role of employees

Bringing everything together – whilst a genuine purpose alongside the principles lie at the heart of family businesses – employees must be taken on this journey to define each of the ‘three Ps’. To have staff 100% on board is vital for a brand’s success because they are often the key to delivering a great level of customer service, and that’s where we are likely to add value in customers’ eyes and increase sales. Without them, everything could fall flat.

A great way to encourage members of the team to be involved throughout the creation of a better identity is through exploratory workshops. These collaborative, strategic sessions allow for valid input and insight from experienced and vital personnel. And, with this knowledge, a brand is likely to be far more positive because those who have created and helped it grow, are right at the very core.
It doesn’t stop on the shop-floor either. Inviting customers to offer feedback on a company’s external perception and how it’s understood, without bias, can be a key advantage for a family-run organisation to thrive.

Much depends on the size, culture and sector, but it’s vital to outline the three Ps of a family company’s identity when analysing and understanding how, and why, a better brand can offer increased ROI and long-term sustainability.

Lesley Gulliver is managing director of UK strategic brand consultancy, The Engine Room, which has a range of family business-based clients including eighth-generation William Smith Group and global scalp cooling specialists PAXMAN.