If you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward.
This simple phrase embodies one of the most challenging concepts for multi-generational businesses. How do we know? We are one.
We’ve been fortunate to have worked with a number of clients through multiple generations of leadership. Through all of that, we learned a thing:
Moving brands forward requires friction.
We discovered that we feel most effective in this space. Because over the last 45 years, we’ve lived it. We’ve navigated it. And we liked it.
We’ve survived more than fifteen years into our second generation of ownership and more industry shifts in that time than we care to count. Those experiences have made us uniquely suited to help move time-tested brands—like us—across generational chasms of company leadership and target markets.
We’ve remained relevant while ensuring our clients do, too.
Defining Multi-Generational Businesses
By our definition, multi-generational businesses are not only the family businesses passed on from one generation to the next, aiming to retain relevance over time. It’s also legacy businesses wanting to successfully advance their operations into the future, and adapt business strategies or products to changing demands as new generations of consumers flood their market space.
Multi-generational businesses have inherent strengths, including pride in the legacy, a long-term focus, institutional knowledge, and strong relationships inside and outside the company. They tend to embrace strategies that put customers and employees first and emphasize social responsibility. In fact, studies show that these businesses have fewer human resources problems and stronger values, driving new entrepreneurial activity.
Multi-generational businesses also practice good governance and oversight, as family business leaders focus on the next generation, not the next quarter. Recent research has shown that continued family control can be efficient because it can positively affect the long-term perspective and allows for unique strategic positioning.
But within these strengths can lurk problems. There are often differences in opinion between the generations about how and why things should be done. Or not done. But it also brings a multitude of opportunities to learn from each other and strengthen the company as a whole. With the strengths of many generations focused on the common goal of succeeding, multi-generational businesses have resilience and staying power.
The Fear Factor
Those at the helm of a generational business carry more responsibility than just a healthy bottom line. They are stewards of a legacy.
While shouldering this responsibility, the idea of breaking apart time-proven structures to ready the company for the future can appear to carry a higher risk.
However, companies that thrive across multiple generations are rarely the same businesses as when they were founded. Those that thrive have adapted, evolved, and responded to new demands without losing their identity. That means it is vital to examine established brands and critically evaluate what course changes, while scary to some, would be worthwhile.
That’s where we come in.
As the torch is passed, we help clients navigate and span gaps between generations—both internally among leadership, and externally with future consumers. It’s a process of engaging new people with new-to-them brands. And this overture must be done without losing the momentum or the equity and tradition already in place.
Embrace A Strategic Vision While Allowing Disruption
A clear strategic vision for multi-generational businesses is the driver of growth and performance. This is how you develop a company for the ages.
It seems everything has been said about the generations currently ruling consumer behaviors and the workforce alike. Boomers feuding with Millennials, Gen Xers frustrated, sandwiched between the two, and a new powerful force creeping up unnoticed as Gen Z comes of age. The reality is more nuanced and complex, and quite a bit more positive.
Each generation is shaped by events and experiences that dominated their world while growing up. As a result, each has different expectations and motivations, consumer behaviors, and ideas about running a business and interacting with consumers. Communication styles and preferences keep evolving. All these elements can create challenges in how people relate and work together.
In today’s fluid business landscape, gaps between generations are growing wider while changing faster. What was once a narrow gap is now a deep chasm packed with misinformation, media-influenced assumptions, and ethnographical nuance. Clearly a challenge. But not an insurmountable obstacle.
Wondering why you need friction to move a brand forward?
Because friction is required to gain traction.
Hence, our company name. We do not shy away from friction in order to get you traction. We embrace it. Without traction, we cannot move our company, or our clients’ companies, forward into uncharted territory.
There is inherent friction in change. And change can be arduous for companies to implement. It can be difficult to adapt to new attitudes and mindsets. Adopt new processes. Discard what no longer is relevant. Create new traditions.
Leading Your Brand Into the Unknown
If you only focus on the comforts of the present, the future will remain indistinct. Our focus is on your past, present, and future.
We respect and value the contributions of each generation in this process. We honor your business’ heritage but champion innovation to assure your brand remains relevant to upcoming generations.
Approaching branding and marketing this way—really business as a whole—requires thoughtful implementation. It means looking at who your customers are or should be. Insights about current customers, combined data, and demographics lead you to where you’ll find and attract your future customers. And it’s where you own your space, compete less, sell more, and amplify profitability.
We call that place Brand New Territoryº.
If this is where you want to be headed, we should get together. We’d love to connect and share our vision.