“It’s hard to read the label on your own bottle.”
If you and your family business can relate to that thought from a fellow CEO, a workshop coming up will help you gain an enhanced perspective that will help accelerate your business goals.
Conducted by Six-Point Creative, the workshop From Stuck to Sustainable: Three Steps to Actionable Acceleration will be from 1 to 5 p.m. April 16 in conjunction with the Prairie Family Business Association Annual Conference.
“This is going to be a hands-on, immersive experience from specialists in strategy,” said Stephanie Larscheid, executive director of the Prairie Family Business Association. “We’ve worked with Six-Point Creative to bring clarity to our own PFBA brand and are excited for our members to experience the same sort of positive results.”
The workshop will be conducted by Marnie Kittelson, a professor, small-business owner and executive who has held numerous C-level positions in a variety of corporations.
“Our firm recognizes that sometimes having an independent third party poke at your brand a bit makes a big difference,” she said. “This workshop will bring something different for family businesses – almost more of a diagnostic approach – that they will immediately be able to begin putting to work.”
We sat down with Kittelson for a preview of what to expect.
How would you describe Six-Point Creative and its unique niche in branding?
We lean into the creative thought process. We’re a brand strategy agency, so we look at different inflection points and transitions where you might need a different viewpoint or look for your business. One of the reasons Six-Point really loves family businesses – and what enticed me to jump into family businesses – is the added complexity to branding and marketing. On one side, they can be constrained by their past, but that also gives them a deeper, richer brand. It is more complex, but we’re going to show you steps you can take to do some brand discovery and bring clarity for yourself going forward.
When we talk about your brand, it really isn’t your logo. It’s your reputation. It’s what others in the marketplace are saying about you. What we often find is everyone in a family business has ideas but is so focused on the day to day that it can be hard to step back and look in a strategic way at the short- and long-term vision. So we often recommend people go through a process of brand discovering like we’ll be offering with this workshop. We have served as a facilitator for some Prairie Family Business Association programs, and we really enjoy working with family businesses.
What kind of approach do you plan to take with your workshop at the Prairie Family Business Annual Conference?
First, we’ll be giving a little pre-exercise in the form of a self-audit to identify strengths and weaknesses, and shore up opportunities. In the workshop itself, we’ll do a number of exercises around it. We ask you to send in the self-evaluation before the workshop, so we’ll be able to do an analysis and you’ll be that much further ahead when you come into the session. And then, we’ll talk about some of the themes we’re noticing. Because in addition to working on your own business, you’ll be learning from the people next to you and comparing notes with others, as well as in a whole group. You’ll come out with a list of business objectives you can fold into your strategic planning.
This is called a business acceleration session. How does the approach help accelerate business?
Some of the biggest problems we see with companies, when you take it all apart, is often they kind of know what they should be doing. So sometimes, it’s not like we come in with the right answers, but we ask the right questions. When we do that, it sparks them to look at things a bit differently. If you pivot the lens you’re using, things get brighter. And we reflect back and synthesize what they’re expressing to us. We might suggest you look at doing voice-of-customer research or maybe consider not an expanded geography but a brand extension on products. So we’re arriving at different ways to grow, and pushing and poking at their plans to help them see what’s possible. We’re not necessarily fixing problems but bringing clarity, focus and alignment, so they can see where it makes sense to move forward.
Do you find there are certain generational challenges, for instance, with rebranding?
Definitely. I’m working right now with a company where Grandpa created the logo and the granddaughter and grandson think it’s time to evolve the logo. And those are tough conversations, but these are the situations where you need to pay homage to the past while innovating for the future. We can update it without deleting it. And when we talk about the “why” behind the logo, what did it mean, we find out things like how Grandpa hadn’t really articulated well enough how he got to the logo. When he did and the family understood what it meant, he realized he hadn’t done a good job telling them upfront. So what they thought was an advertising problem really was a brand clarity problem. Then, creating the updated logo was easy because everyone bought into the vision and Grandpa understood why we needed to adjust.
What kind of support can attendees expect after your session?
We want to be sure that this session is valuable and provides a deeper understanding of their business, ideas around paths to get “unstuck” and learning from those of us running the workshop, as well as each other. Our approach is not to toss everyone in the water and hope they don’t drown, so we definitely will be available for questions and may add some sessions or check-ins after the conference. You won’t be sitting out there saying it wasn’t helpful. Post-conference, we’ll make sure everyone is feeling good and that they got some clarity and alignment. There’s help if you need it, and hopefully you’ve made connections with people you can talk to in similar situations for support. That’s what we’re hoping this will do.