Building Bridges Across Branding Research: Family Business Brands and The Branding Process

Call for papers for: Journal of Product & Brand Management

Isabel C. Botero, University of Louisville College of Business, USA, [email protected]
Giuseppe Pedeliento, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy, [email protected]
Cristina Bettinelli, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy, [email protected]
Edgar Centeno, EGADE Business School - Tecnólogico de Monterrey, Ciudad de México, México, [email protected]

Family firms are widely acknowledged as the principal form of business organization around the world (Faccio and Lang, 2002; Holderness, 2009; La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, and Shleifer, 1999). These firms are recognized as key contributors to wealth production, job creation, and influencers of the gross national product (Beckhard and Dyer, 1983; Feltham, Feltham, and Barnett, 2005; Shanker and Astrachan, 1996). In the United States, it is estimated that close to one third of the 500 companies in the S&P index are family owned; while the European Commission indicates that approximately 60 percent of companies in Europe can be classified as family firms. Due to their importance, family businesses research has attracted the interest of a growing number of scholars and has become an autonomous field of studies that has gained legitimacy within the wider realm of management studies (Jaskiewicz, Neubaum, De Massis, and Holt, 2020).

Although research in the family business field has increased through the years, we still have a limited understanding about brands and branding process in the context of family businesses (see Andreini, Bettinelli, Pedeliento, and Apa, 2020). Up to now, research in this context has focused on answering three general research questions: 
•    How does family involvement in an organization make a brand different? 
•    How do family businesses make choices in their branding process? and
•    How do consumers perceive the family business brand? 

Researchers have suggested that the involvement of a family in a firm can make a brand different, depending on the overlap between the family and the business identity (Sundaramurthy and Kreiner, 2008). The higher the overlap between these identities the higher the likelihood that a company will use family language and family visual information as part of the communication of their brand (Micelotta and Raynard, 2011). However, not all family businesses decide to communicate their family business brand (Binz Astrachan and Botero, 2018; Botero, Graves, and Fediuk, 2013; Micelotta and Raynard, 2011). This is interesting given that empirical findings indicate that communicating the family brand is likely to influence consumers’ behavior, and provides a source of differentiation that can act as an advantage to outcompete their nonfamily counterparts (Beck, Prügl, and Walter, 2020, Binz Astrachan and Botero, 2018; Deephouse and Jaskiewicz, 2013). 

Two key paradigms have been considered as a conceptual baseline. First, family business brands and family business branding have resulted in the establishment of an empirical tradition rooted in a stimuli-reaction paradigm (Andreini et al., 2020). Taking a stimuli-reaction view can objectify the family business brand, and focus primarily on how consumers perceive and process the family nature implied in the family firm brand. Second, another widely shared view among branding scholars suggests that a brand is largely a by-product of a negotiation of meanings that take place in the marketplace (MacInnis, Torelli, and Park, 2019). From this paradigm, the brand is seen as the outcome of a socially constructed process and/or as an outcome of co-creation practices that involve primarily consumers, producers, and other actors. Therefore, a more comprehensive understanding of brands and branding in the context of family businesses requires that we create connections between different forms of scholarship that can help create a more comprehensive understanding of this topic.

This special issue was created to develop a platform to bridge these complementary perspectives. This cross-fertilization between fields is an opportunity for new and untapped research avenues, cross-disciplinary methods, and novel approaches that may lead to the consolidation of an emergent stream of research. 
We invite submissions from various disciplines, such as marketing, business, management, communication, family business and their combination.. Contributions can be conceptual (including critical literature reviews or “state-of-the-art” articles) and/or empirical (qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods). Papers that adopt innovative research designs and methodological approaches or challenge our understanding of family business brands and the branding process are particularly welcomed. 
Possible topics/research questions include, but are not limited to the following:
Unravelling the family business brand 

  • Why and when do family business brands represent a competitive advantage for the firm?
  • How is family business brand authenticity constructed?
  • Is there any similarity and/or spill-over between the founder’s brand and the family firm brand?
  • Are family business brands carriers of a different marketplace ideology?
  • How do family firm brands change when business succession takes place
  • What is the relationship between family values and the family business brand personality?

The family as a human brand asset

  • To what extent is the family firm brand the founder’s human brand?
  • What is the synergetic interaction between the individual family member human brands and the family business brand?
  • Are family member human brands the foundation/composite of the family business brand?

The communication of the family business brand

  • How is family business brand authenticity communicated in corporate communication?
  • How is family brand heritage communicated through storytelling?
  • How does storytelling assist in the development of a communication campaign for a family business brand?
  • Do family business brands create communities? Do brand communities developed by family business brands work differently compared to brand communities created by their non-family counterparts?

Family business brands as the result of a co-creation process that involves actors and agencies external to the family firm

  • How are family business brands’ meaning co-created?, which external actors are the most relevant and why? 
  • How does the process of family business brands’ meaning evolve over time? With what outcomes? At what levels (social, market, cultural, community, etc.)?
  • What are the cases of success and failure associated with the family business brands’ co-creation process? 

The perception of family business brands

  • Are family business brands perceived to be more authentic than non-family owned brands?
  • How are family business brands perceived by internal stakeholders?
  • How are family business brands perceived by other brand audiences like the media and other cultural intermediaries?

The consequences of the brand:

  • To the family: when the family business brand is strong and exploited, can it trigger identity and image misalignments? Can a brand crisis cause a family crisis? 
  • To the business: are family business brands related to higher levels of (to say) satisfaction, loyalty, repurchase intention, etc.?
  • To the market: what are the main brand related practices that family businesses can enact to provide drastic changes at the market level?

Toward a theory of family business branding

  • Fresh and impactful theoretical elaborations are needed by combining in vogue theoretical framework widely used in branding research (e.g. consumer culture theory, service dominant logic, brand relationship paradigm), with established theories and approaches currently used in family business research like socio-emotional wealth, resource-based view, and familiness. 


  • Paradoxical tensions of family-based-brands: they can be extremely good for the firm but also extremely risky for the family and for the individuals (both family members and consumers). How can we conciliate and explain this?
  • Is there any congruence effect between family-based brands’ personality and consumers’ personality traits?
  • On the dark side of family business brands: analyses of what happens in rare-key-events both inside and outside the firm (e.g., inside crises such as the unexpected loss of the family business leader, the emergence of a scandal related to the family or to the firm, and outside crises such as those with health, social, economic, and political relevant issues, etc).

All articles for this Special Issue must be submitted online using the submission portal of the journal (See below for details). Submissions must follow the manuscript guidelines for authors available. Authors should clearly indicate in their cover letter that the manuscript is for the Special Issue “Building Bridges Across Branding Research: Family Business Brands and The Branding Process” upon submission. All articles will be subject to the standard double-blind review process. For questions regarding this Special Issue, please contact any of the guest editors.

Submission Portal:
Deadline for submissions: 1st November, 2021
The system will open: 1st September, 2021

The Journal of Product and Brand Management (JPBM) advances the theoretical and managerial knowledge of products and brands. Manuscripts may either report results based on rigorously analyzed qualitative/quantitative data or be purely conceptual. All manuscripts must offer significant research findings and insights and offer meaningful implications for the real world.

Andreini, D., Bettinelli, C., Pedeliento, G., Apa, R. (2019). How Do Consumers See Firms’ Family Nature? A Review of the Literature. Family Business Review (in press),
Beck, S., Prügl, R., Walter, K. (2020). Communicating the family firm brand: Antecedents and performance effects. European Management Journal, 38(1), 95-107.
Beckhard, R., Dyer Jr, W. G. (1983). Managing continuity in the family-owned business. Organizational Dynamics, 12(1), 5-12.
Binz Astrachan, C., Botero, I.C. (2018) “We are a family firm”: An exploration of the motives for communicating the family business brand. Journal of Family Business Management, 8(1), 2-21.
Botero, I. C., Thomas, J., Graves, C., Fediuk, T. A. (2013). Understanding multiple family firm identities: An exploration of the communicated identity in official websites. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 4(1), 12-21.
Deephouse, D. L., Jaskiewicz, P. (2013). Do family firms have better reputations than non‐family firms? An integration of socioemotional wealth and social identity theories. Journal of Management Studies, 50(3), 337-360.
Faccio, M., Lang, L. H. (2002). The ultimate ownership of Western European corporations. Journal of Financial Economics, 65(3), 365-395
Feltham, T. S., Feltham, G., Barnett, J. J. (2005). The dependence of family businesses on a single decision‐maker. Journal of small business management, 43(1), 1-15.
Holderness, C. G. (2009). The myth of diffuse ownership in the United States. The Review of Financial Studies, 22(4), 1377-1408.
Jaskiewicz, P., Neubaum, D. O., De Massis, A., Holt, D. T. (2020). The Adulthood of Family Business Research Through Inbound and Outbound Theorizing, Family Business Review (in press)
La Porta, R., Lopez‐de‐Silanes, F., Shleifer, A. (1999). Corporate ownership around the world. The Journal of Finance, 54(2), 471-517.
MacInnis, D. J., Torelli, C. J., Park, C. W. (2019). Creating cultural meaning in products and brands: A psychological perspective. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 29(3), 555-562.
Micelotta, E. R., Raynard, M. (2011). Concealing or revealing the family? Corporate brand identity strategies in family firms. Family Business Review, 24(3), 197-216.
Shanker, M. C., Astrachan, J. H. (1996). Myths and realities: Family businesses’ contribution to the U.S. economy—A framework for assessing family business statistics. Family Business Review, 9(2), 107-123.
Sundaramurthy, C., Kreiner, G. E. (2008). Governing by managing identity boundaries: The case of family businesses. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 32(3), 415-436.