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Improving your family brand

Don Tyler for Progressive Cattle Published on 25 January 2021
Family brand

“Riding for the brand” is a time-honored code used for more than 100 years by cowboys and ranchers as a symbol of the values and principles each ranch lived by.

It indicated you were a dedicated part of the team, you had signed onto the mission of the company and its owners, and whatever happened, the cattle came first.

Today, this motto has been adopted by many businesses as an indication of loyalty to their products, services, vision and values. Their brand is what they offer to the public for sale as well as the culture they promote.

Why work on your brand?

Establishing your brand has never been more important. Social media, online searches and many other vectors of connectivity provide quick access to almost anyone – even if they aren’t trying to be noticed. It is important to realize that when people are looking for us, we want them to see who we really are, not what someone chooses to say about us.

There have been several instances in the last few years where small family enterprises have been minding their own business when someone in the family gets a comment or message from a total stranger through social media who challenges their operation’s practices, the welfare of their animals, the impact they are having on the community and environment or how they treat their employees. One disgruntled employee or neighbor can set off a firestorm of comments and accusations that catch us off-guard and put us on the defensive.

There are very positive implications as well. If we work hard to establish our brand, what we stand for, our core values and the positive things our industry and business provides the community, we have proactively established who we really are in these important areas. Consistently emphasizing and exhibiting these traits reinforces our brand throughout our community and industry. If someone makes disparaging or critical remarks about our family or business, those who know us will come to our defense, helping further establish our brand. It also helps employees, vendors and business contacts gain confidence in their relationship with us.

Building your brand

Creating the brand you prefer to be known by is a process. You start with making a list of the traits you would use to describe yourself. This can be done during a staff meeting or other discussion in a manner that is free-flowing and non-judgmental. Make a list of the traits that define you and continue to write them down without making any decision about their appropriateness.

Commonly, this list will include 20 to 30 different descriptive words for you to review and make selections. The next step is to have each person go through the list and prioritize the five traits they feel are the most important. Then mark any of the traits from the list chosen by any of the participants and create a new list of only those traits.

With this new list of most-desired traits, each person can prioritize the top three of these traits they feel are most essential to your brand. Finally, list the traits in order of priority, identifying the four to six with the highest ranking. These are the traits you agree are the best descriptors of your brand. For each of these traits, write a definition for what it means in your operation.

Implementing and sharing your brand

Make copies of your defined brand traits for everyone to review. Start with your family members and employees, discussing each of the traits in regular meetings and conversations. Make it a habit to share one of the traits in day-to-day communications, perhaps focusing on one trait every month or quarter, so they become well established as a part of everyone’s mindset. Teach them to use these words when speaking to landlords, vendors and others in the community.

Praise those who exemplify your brand in their day-to-day activities and conversations. Post them on walls and include them as a footer in your e-mails, rotating through each trait on a regular basis.

Help landlords, vendors and other professionals with whom you do business gain a deeper understanding of the image you are striving to portray and the importance of these traits to your business.

If you have a website or social media page, be sure your brand is clearly visible throughout the content, pictures and marketing information. Have staff and family members share them occasionally on social media and other communication platforms.

In time, people in the community will grow to know you by these traits – so long as you exhibit them consistently in all interactions. Once your reputation is established, professionals will be more interested in working with you, the highest-quality candidates will want to become employees, and those who strive to harm your reputation will be met with a chorus of positive comments that will drown out their negative intentions.

Confirming your message

During a visit with clients in California who operate a large almond, walnut and rice operation, we were discussing ways to measure their effectiveness in establishing their brand in the community. We discussed options and agreed that they would take the next 30 days and simply ask some of their friends, a few of their vendors and landlords, and even some total strangers this question: “When you think of the name of this business, what comes to mind?” They didn’t identify themselves to strangers so they wouldn’t show any bias in their answer. The responses were overwhelmingly positive. They heard some of the exact words that are on their website, those used in advertising and what they had been communicating in the two years since they proactively promoted their brand.

That’s great confirmation that this process works.  end mark

Getty Images.

Don Tyler is owner of Tyler & Associates Executive and Management Coaching. For more information about this topic, a sample list of traits to define your brand, or as a trainer/speaker, he can be reached at (765) 490-0353, or emial Don Tyler.  Website Tyler & Associates.

Don Tyler
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