A Family Affair with Fisk Johnson



Last night, I was playing with my BlackBerry® during the TV ads–as most people do–when suddenly a deep and honest voice drew me back to the TV.

“Can a company really have a heart, a conscience, a soul?” asked a man in a warm and personal tone. “It can when the company is a family,” he continued.

The voice turned out to be that of Fisk Johnson, the fifth generation owner of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. His point was on the environmental responsibility of his company and its commitment to the quality of its products. In between the lines, there was a strong branding messaging, one of integrity and dependability.

Thoughts of Pledge®, Ziploc®, Glad®, and Windex® came to mind–products that I trust as a consumer and admire as a marketer. Here was a company that has never compromised its mission and always delivered its value proposition day in and day out, a company that I would love to have as a client. (Mr. Fisk: if you are reading this, feel free to call.)

So I ask you, reader:

  • Must a company be a family, like the Johnson family, to be true to its company’s core values?
  • Can a public company succeed as a brand when it relies on the instincts and guts of people not bound to it by family ties?
  • Are the chief executives of public companies driven more by the bottom line, quarterly reports, and their resumes than the vision of the company founders?

I haven’t seen many public companies whose heart, soul, and dreams have survived its owners. Not that they don’t exist. They do! Chances are slim, but that’s no one’s fault; it’s just the way the system works.

As stated in Mr. Fisk’s brilliantly written script, being truthful to your soul is not a business obligation; it’s a family obligation.

Kudos to the dreamers who passed the torch to other generations!

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June 3rd, 2010 0 comments Branding Blogging / Branding Education / Branding Marketing / Branding Questions / Branding Strategy / Branding Thesis