What is a Family Brand Manager?

 By Albert Jan Thomassen

Albert Jan Thomassen

In today’s world companies are much more vulnerable to opinions and statements from a wide range of sources. These can harm their reputation and credibility very fast. Take the example of McDonalds a few months ago. They claimed on Twitter that their food is healthy. Within a few hours there were a lot of negative reactions. The company withdrew their Twitter campaign immediately because the credibility of the McDonalds brand was at stake.

This is but one illustration that building and nurturing a brand has become a necessity for companies.  However, when the company name is the same as the family name – brand management has an extra dimension: the family.

 Some business owning families are well aware of that extra dimension and have what I call a ‘Family Brand Manager’.  The Family Brand Manager is not about branding the companies’ products or services. It is about branding the family’s role and the value the family brings to the company and its stakeholders.  Usually a family member takes on the role of family brand manager although he or she may not always be aware of this role.

 Some of the tasks of an effective family brand manager are to:

  • Identify and cultivate the unique values and personality of the family
  • Determine how to execute their role as visible and positive owner and to make that tangible for both family members as well as other company stakeholders
  • Make explicit what their long term aspiration is, e.g. ‘no intention to sell’ or ‘if we enter a market we intend to stay’
  • Uncover and communicate the family and business stories that really matter to the success of the company
  • Provide guidance to the board and the management with a clear owners’ vision

To think about the family as a brand and make the effort to uncover that brand can be a real challenging job but very rewarding for family and company.  Done well it really helps to maximize the advantages of family ownership.

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