Monday, July 11, 2011

Families with lessons for brands

I trundled all the way from Melbourne to Albury for lunch yesterday. To give you an idea, the 750km round trip is the equivalent of driving Melbourne to Adelaide. An amazing feat of endurance at the best of times, but at least trebled by the fact that I had three generations of family women in the car - daughter, wife and mother-in-law. And they wonder why I like coming to work!

But bragging about my stamina is not the purpose of this missive. The motive for yesterday's expedition was a family gathering of about 50 in-laws and out-laws in a town in which there is a thriving Lebanese community with Aussie roots going back to the early 20th Century.

I had not previously heard of or seen most of the people there, but what struck me most was their amazing capacity to argue, rebutt and bond simultaneously. It shouldn't be surprising really. The Lebanese have been traders going back to Phoenician times. Once a deal is struck, the decision is accepted as fair and everyone moves on to the next bargain.

There was an amazing dynamic in yesterday's four-hour gathering, from which a lot of companies could learn. While the far-flung relations had forged opinions on the merits or otherwise of family activities for many decades, these things were debated and dealt with internally. In fact, at every gathering of this type I have ever been to, I cannot recall one where differences weren't completely put aside, commonalities re-declared and unity of and clarity of family commitment firmly established as the party finished.

I'm sure any organisation that bottled this and apply it to brand strategy and management would do very well.

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