Guest Blog: Celebrating Family Business Milestones Strengthen Relationships by Honoring Special Achievements

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

(Editor's Note: This is the tenth in a series of columns by family business leaders and advisors with information and ideas about topics unique to family businesses, developed in conjunction with the Conway Center for Family Business.)

By Kelly Borth

Whether a family business is celebrating 10 years or 100 years in business, it is a special time and an opportunity to be recognized for business longevity and best practices.

There are many ways to leverage a milestone year. In all cases, how you celebrate should be fun and consistent with your company's brand. Here are some things you might want to consider for your business.

Determine a promotional timeframe

It is not unusual for a company milestone to be promoted six months in advance of the milestone date and continue six months following the milestone year.

Develop an anniversary logo

Develop a special logo or adapt your current logo with a reference to the anniversary year. It is also common for companies to continue to use some form of the logo past the milestone year, sometimes as a standard part of the company's corporate identity or logo and sometimes as a tagline. Incorporate the logo on the company's website, company stationery, brochures (sometimes best done with a sticker) and other marketing and advertising materials, email signatures and social media sites. Also make it visible in all company offices.

Create an anniversary theme

Creating an anniversary theme can be a fun way to tie-in a special anniversary message. The theme can play off the milestone year such as, "100 Ways We've Led the Industry," or emphasize a competitive advantage such as, "Emerging Through Innovation." Incorporate the theme in all marketing and employee communications.

Document the company's history

For many family-owned businesses, pulling together the company's history can be a big task. Creating a company timeline, incorporating archive family and business photos and sharing tidbits of the company's history can be fun ways to engage employees and social media contacts. Once documented, this information can reside on the company website and be incorporated into employee manuals and the on-boarding process. Another fun way to share company history is to produce an anniversary video (and if you have a theme, create a theme song) or a company history coffee table book.

Celebrate with employees

Commemorating company milestones with employees builds pride. Many family businesses use companywide corporate and family events, commemorative shirts, hats and other items to thank their employees during a milestone year.

Celebrate with customers and vendors

Communicating the company's milestones, mailing or delivering commemorative gifts, planning celebrations such as open houses or plant tours and simple letters of thanks are great ways to involve customers and vendors.

Share your story with trade and local media

A company that reaches a milestone year is not necessarily newsworthy to most media, but if you can tie-in that message with what the company has done over time or recently that has assured the company's growth and helped it obtain longevity, now you are talking about something that might catch the attention of a reporter. There might also be an interesting story that emerges from the company's history, such as reinvention to remain relevant in the marketplace or an original building that is now a notable landmark. Also look to organizations like the Columbus Chamber or the Conway Family Business Center-both of which recognize company milestone years. Note: The Conway Center will be celebrating family business milestones at a luncheon on November 7th this year.

Be philanthropic

Giving back to the community in some way can also be a memorable way to share your milestone with all audiences. Choose a cause that your company is passionate about. Make a commemorative contribution such as 100 volunteer hours, 50 meals or a cash amount that ties back to your milestone year.

So, don't let a milestone year slip by unnoticed. Have some fun and celebrate these wonderful achievements.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 24-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. She also is an advisory board member and service provider member of the Conway Center for Family Business. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership and is one of 35 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at 614-885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or for more information www.greencrest.com.