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Marketing the family business? Brand it like Beckham

You’ll rarely see a bad photo of David and Victoria Beckham, the British couple who have managed to transform themselves from regular celebrities into a massive global family brand. They have carefully crafted their image – and the success of their efforts is something many family businesses could learn from, according to a new study.

You’ll rarely see a bad photo of David and Victoria Beckham, the British couple who have managed to transform themselves from regular celebrities into a massive global family brand.

Instead of pictures showing the couple falling out of nightclubs or in one of those usual paparazzi shots that fill up celebrity magazines, the Beckhams are pictured shopping with their children or spending time together on family outings. There are also plenty of photos of Victoria and her sons watching David’s LA Galaxy games or of the former Spice Girl striding purposely through airports, wearing one of her own creations.

They have carefully crafted their image – and the success of their efforts is something many family businesses could learn from, according to a new study.

Marie-Agnès Parmentier, an assistant professor at the department of marketing at Canadian business school HEC Montreal, trawled through more than 2,500 pages of data about the Beckham family from published biographies, official websites, magazines and various social media sites for the study, which was published by academic journal Family Business Review.

By taking advantage of chances for publicity, providing access to traditional media such as print and TV, and using social networking sites, the Beckhams have ensured that a variety of consumers across the world are now attached to their brand.

They aren’t the only ones who have managed to effectively link their products with their family – academics often use the example of Ralph Lauren, which is very much associated with the company’s namesake, his family and their lifestyle.

But it’s not just being a family business that counts, Parmentier said. The personality of the family, even outside of the more glamorous industries of entertainment and fashion, can matter when it comes to marketing.

Parmentier wrote: “Brands that posses distinctive and visible meanings can gain some benefits over those that are simply claiming that their brand identity is that of a family firm”.

Family businesses could profit from carefully crafting a dynamic personal story, she reckons, with “distinct persona cues that are particularly interesting for a target audience and can be embellished by the media.”

But it’s that “embellished by the media” bit that might leave some family businesses wary of undertaking Beckham-like branding.  

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