What family offices can learn from family businesses about branding

Photo by stevanovicigor/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by stevanovicigor/iStock / Getty Images

Family Capital often speaks and meets family office and investment groups. One topic that comes up is brand and how family offices should develop, or, indeed, not develop their brand.

Recently, one family-controlled investment group told Family Capital that they prefer to see themselves as a family business, rather than a family office. The logic behind this was the concept of longevity. A family business has something permanent about it, whereas a family office is more ephemeral. OK, that wasn’t the exact words the group used, but that’s what they were implying.

The investment group, which doesn’t want to be named, had originally been a family business in the traditional sense, but had changed into a family office later on. The concept of being a family business even after the original business had long since disappeared has struck a chord with others, says the family office. Its managers say that others think a family business brand was preferable to use as a brand than the family office one.


Unlike most family businesses, which appear comfortable to use the family bit of their brand, many family offices often are less at ease with their brand. Of course, regulatory pressures, particularly in the US, often leads investments groups to brand themselves family offices in order to escape being regulated. And it might appear the sensible thing to do to call your new investment group a family office – at least in the first instance.

But in the longer term, if a family investment group is to last more than just one generation, branding it more as a family business might help to increase its longevity and help to bring in the next generation as well. It has certainly worked for the above investment house, which has been successful at adapting and bringing in subsequent generations into the business for many years.