Are you aware that The Silver Tsunami has begun? But wait, what is The Silver Tsunami? Simply put, it’s a metaphor coined for our aging Boomer generation and the related economic and health implications coming our way. As branding professionals, it’s this swelling wave of retiring business owners and CEOs that has our attention. We’ve witnessed it happening more frequently in recent years. Still, over the next few decades, we’re going to see more and more businesses passed down to the next generation or transitioning to a new era of leadership in one way or another.
If any of this sounds like your current or future situation, it’s time for your branding to be top of mind, and here are 4 reasons why. Ignore at your own risk!
1 – It’s NOT a seller’s market. Eek!
Baby Boomers own 12 of the 15 million privately held businesses in the US, with 70% of those Boomers retiring over the next few decades. Therefore, it’s safe to assume an estimated 8.4 million privately held businesses are positioned to change hands in one way or another. And with Boomers in no hurry to retire, when they all do, supply is quickly set to outpace demand. However, there are measures Boomers can take to improve their odds of selling their company amongst a sea of other businesses ripe for acquisition.
Branding is one of those things.
Branding increases the value of your business, giving you a better chance of selling. How does it add value? Well-branded companies give potential buyers a clear picture of what they are getting into and confidence in their decision-making. When your company appears (and hopefully is) organized, intentional, and grounded, you become very attractive to potential buyers because they would much rather buy a tidy ball of yarn than a wadded mess.
It’s also important to understand that without a cohesive brand, you sell yourself short on brand power, brand equity, and brand depth. Allow me to elaborate:
Brand Power or the level of influence your brand has on others. The stronger your brand (or brands), the more power and influence you have over others.
A few simple ways to quickly gain brand power are:
1 – Define and share who you are.
2 – Be consistent in your visuals and messaging.
3 – Connect with consumers on an emotional level.
4 – Engage in positive reputation-building activities.
Brand Equity or the value your brand brings to your company. In other words, it makes your company worth more. It appeals to potential buyers and gives you more negotiating power. You can charge more, attract top-notch employees, and have instant credibility for new products or services. And ultimately, the more equity you have, the more power and control you have, and the more your company is worth.
Brand Depth is the capacity your brand has to make meaningful connections with others, provide more than a product or service, and achieve long-term success. It speaks to the intangible aspects of your brand that ultimately drive longevity. On “the shallow(est) end of dream pool,” to paraphrase Scar from “The Lion King,” your “brand” may consist of a quick-turn logo, no real (let alone inspirational) values, and employees that punch the clock then watch it all day long.
However, move on down to the deep end, and you will see everything aligns internally and externally; You and your employees love sporting company attire because they believe in what it represents; Your visuals match your narrative, which matches your actions and reactions; All departments know why you exist, where you are headed, and how to get there…together!
It works like magic, and all you have to do is decide to dive in.
2 – Your Millennial son or daughter understands the role branding plays in the workplace. Do you?
If you haven’t noticed, we live in a vastly different world than 50, 30, or even 20 years ago. You can find your soul mate with the swipe of a finger and take down entire corporations with a few tweets. While that may be a slight exaggeration (or is it?) regarding love and power, the truth remains that life now plays out in the “real world” and in the “virtual” with the rise of social media, smartphones, the internet, and the vast number of ways in which we can communicate and connect to the rest of the world.
What does this have to do with you and your kids?
Boomers are both blessed and cursed. They were blessed in that they got to live most of their lives in simpler times and cursed to be just far enough outside of the information age their kids grew up in to find this new world quite hard to relate to—especially when it comes to how folks want to work these days. In other words, they still live in one world, and their kids live in two.
Now, back to what this has to do with branding…
First, here are a few crucial characteristics of today’s workforce that you need to keep in mind:
- With the birth of the internet, transparency is no longer an option. It’s a necessity.
- Contrary to the popular cliché, people do judge books by their cover and you by your brand.
- Young people crave meaning, not a 9-5.
- Working for someone is no longer a privilege. It’s a choice. Our new generation is not scared to walk away.
- If you don’t decide who you are as a company, someone else will.
Believe it or not, BRANDING can help you address each of these points. Your kids know this because they ARE these people, and the sooner you get this, the better.
3 – Branding unites the best of the past with the best of the future.
Let me share a few facts and opinions:
Fact 1 – The number of family-owned businesses handed down to the second generation has dropped from 30% to 19% in the last five years. According to Price Waterhouse Cooper, this is thought to be due to Millennials’ desire to sell the family business to start a new, but still family-controlled, enterprise.
Opinion – Because of the massive difference between the “cog in the wheel” days of the past and the “everyone matters” stance of today—or what Bill George, the author of True North: Emerging Leader Edition, coined “authentic leadership”— Millennial heirs find it easier to start fresh than to try and change the ways of the past. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is an age-old cliché for a reason, but it doesn’t have to be this way!
Fact 2 – No one lives forever. This is a fact.
Opinion – As a company owner, the best parts of what you bring to the table can live on well after you are gone. BUT! You MUST actually write down your beliefs, values, tactics, actions… EVERYTHING that got you where you are today. The branding process (at least ours, anyway) helps you do this, and once you’ve discovered (and written down) what defines your company, all that’s left is sharing them with others and allowing them to drive the ship.
Fact 3 – Our world is constantly evolving socially, economically, and culturally.
Opinion – Change can be hard and scary, especially if everything seems to be working just fine. As a business, those willing to adjust to our changing world are the ones who will not just survive but thrive for years to come. What got you here today will not get you where you want to be tomorrow. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave everything from the past behind. The branding process helps to extrapolate the best of the past and marry it with new practices that will move you into the future—all with an experienced, insightful brand coach to guide you.
4 – Even if you are not ready to sell, branding provides the tools needed to move into the future with ease.
Tools? Isn’t branding just about my logo?
Nope. It’s the whole shebang.
Meaning your product or service, visual identity, internal culture, how and what you communicate, your daily meetings, packaging, social media, phone greeting, and on and on and on. It’s anything related to your company, for better or worse. It’s how everyone acts and feels internally and how you connect with the world externally. It’s how you run your business, and it’s why you do what you do. It’s the whole shebang.
And branding is not only for the Apple’s and Google’s of the world. It’s beneficial to companies of all shapes and sizes because it:
- makes marketing (and everything else) more efficient and effective.
- is long-term and keeps your company goals front and center.
- creates meaningful connections and builds relationships.
- defines who you are, what you do, and why you do it, and aligns all aspects of your business.
- has the power to impact your people, reputation, customer loyalty, revenue, and growth.
- is a smart business decision.
Branding tackles the intangibles so often ignored. And understandably so. Addressing the concrete is much easier than correcting what we cannot see. But don’t take it from me. Read any book by Simon Sinek, Denise Lee Yohn, Seth Godin, and Daniel Pink, and you will see just how vital paying attention to the human element of any business is today. Branding helps you do this in an organized fashion and then gives you the tools to build your brand, reputation, growth, and success.
To sum things up, if you are a member of this elite group known as the “Silver Tsunami,” it’s time to seriously consider branding as part of your business strategy moving into the future. And while it may take a bit of effort and investment upfront, the difference it makes is worth it.
Want to know more?