For A Family Enterprise – Image Is Everything


Legacy is a family business. For family enterprises built upon generations of hereditary wealth, elements that comprise their legacy are both tangible and intangible. Beyond the value on the balance sheet, there is value in the family name.

John A. Davis, chairman of the Cambridge Family Enterprise Group, expands on the idea to say that “a lot of what makes these family businesses successful is family trust. This trust keeps families motivated in a sense of mission for the family.”

The family name is an asset that requires attention not merely for vanity purposes, but because a family’s name is its brand. It represents specific values and conveys a level of trust and integrity to its businesses, investments, and foundations.

Many families acknowledge that their name is an identification of shared values with customers across a marketplace. Family brand-names can become rooted in customer perceptions towards their businesses. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos observed, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.”

Working with various family enterprise groups, I have observed the amount of attention that is given to the family-brand equity and how that name is used or even referenced in the marketplace. Careful due diligence must be given to monitoring the sentiment towards family enterprises. It is a precedence similar to how any business would protect its brand and image.

When measuring the marketplace for such information, it is most effective to calculate an overall impact of the existing voice-of-the-consumer (VOC) sentiment. Such data can be collected from news and conversations across the entire digital media spectrum. This data can then be monitored for changing perception trends and benchmarked against competitors to determine marketplace advantages and gaps for the family enterprise.


“A family business is often the repository and generator of a family’s prosperity – which can make decisions about the business more difficult.”

– Paul Sullivan, The New York Times

Increasingly today, family enterprises are investing in marketplace research and analysis tools to monitor sentiment and perception towards their businesses, partnerships or foundations.

VOC data can also be used to help family enterprises to understand the if negative sentiment should be directly addressed – or avoided. Family Enterprises can secure dedicated support to access VOC data sources and uncover essential insights that can help to identify new opportunities and directly address imminent pitfalls resulting from negativity towards their family businesses which may be festering in the marketplace and impacting their name.

Marketplace data is being created at a dizzying pace each day and a general “feeling” of how a family enterprise is being perceived by key audiences, including customers, is no longer enough.

By using data analysis to evaluate and benchmark VOC sentiment, a non-emotional standard can be established. This could be a useful tool to facilitate conversations between family members where individual perceptions could be influencing a broader understanding of the family’s position in the market.

Longevity is an important element in family enterprises that stretch across centuries. It is achieved by family members remaining both true to their values and adaptable to the markets they serve or invest in.

Whether or not we’re listening, the market will continue to talk. About your business, your value, and ultimately impact positively or negatively your brand.

How is your family enterprise evaluating its marketplace position today and into the future?