Do family businesses benefit from their status as family businesses? Does it make sense to focus brand communication on that status? And if so, why do some family businesses decide not to – without damaging the success of their business? These and other questions were the focus of the event: “This Only Happens in the Best of Families”, jointly organised by the Friedrichshafen Institute of Family Entrepreneurship (FIF) and the Meersburg Communication Agency Schindler Parent.
On April 14, 2016, representatives of numerous family businesses got together on the ZF campus of the Zeppelin University to learn more about these topics at an all-day event. The subtitle of the event “Brand Management and Family Businesses – Implementing Research” wanted to be understood programmatically. The programme assembled a diverse range from highly scientific to concrete application-oriented talks. Exclusive insights into current research were presented to the public for the first time, as the scientific director of the FIF, Prof. Dr. Reinhard Prügl, emphasised, by Maximilian Lude and Susanne Beck, who investigated family businesses’ natural differentiation potential and success factors for family-focused communication strategies respectively in the context of their doctoral theses.
While Maximilian Lude could show through experiments using fictitious brands that customers prefer products produced by family businesses, Susanne Beck emphasised that it is not enough to simply stick on the label “family business” if the brand identity behind it does not actually live up to family values. But if values and appearance coincides, it is evident that consumers trust family businesses more than other companies – A success factor, for example, when it comes to introducing new products.
Gabi Lemke and Hubert Hepfer from the Hirsch Brewery Honer talked about how this trust comes with a special kind of responsibility, when they answered questions by Reinhard Prügel, Michael Meier, and the audience in the Entrepreneurs’ Talk. The focus of the following talks already became clear in that dialogue: Family businesses can not only draw on tradition, but they must evolve and keep reinventing themselves. Michael Meier guided the way into the same direction with practical examples (“What Values Do to Families”), while Katja-Maria Prexl (“Family Is the Future”) emphasised the need to anticipate the future, to recognize trends, and to react appropriately – in other words: It is crucial to actively shape the future.
Axel Helbig from the Düsseldorf-based communication service provider ‘ForYouAndYourCustomers’ illustrated the role of choosing the right ways to reach customers with innovative multichannel concepts. Ana Jakić, a research assistant and PhD student at the Institute for Marketing at the Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich, showed the importance of adequate social media strategies when family businesses opt for these channels. Joachim Strate from Schindler Parent’s advisory board concluded the talks with a witty and highly humorous account of his experiences from his time as managing director at Ogilvy & Mather in Düsseldorf.
The event was buzzing with a lively exchange between all participants that arose in between the rounds of questions after the talks and in the breaks along with appetizers and snacks. The exciting atmosphere of the ZF campus that was only opened last year also contributed its part. It’s no surprise that many of those present took the opportunity to immediately pick up the impulses and question their own company’s appearance.
Do you have any questions about the event? Are you a family entrepreneur yourself and would like to learn more about brand management? Then don’t hesitate to contact me:
Project manager/ PR
antje.koch (at) schindlerparent.de