Ed Delia and Doug Thorpe

The Journey of a Family Business

Hello, I’m Doug Thorpe, and welcome to my blog where I share insights and stories from my podcast, Leadership Powered by Common Sense. In a recent episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ed Delia, a seasoned professional who has navigated the complex waters of transitioning a family-owned business and has a deep understanding of branding in the B2B space. Today, I want to share the valuable lessons and insights from our conversation.

The Legacy of Delia Associates

Ed’s journey is a testament to the resilience and evolution of family businesses. Delia Associates, founded by his father Michael Delia in 1964, has been a part of Ed’s life since childhood. Despite initially resisting the idea of joining the family business, Ed found himself fully committed to it after college. The transition from working under his father to taking over the business was a significant milestone, marked by a buyout process that instilled in Ed a profound appreciation for the company’s value.

Celebrating 60 Years of Success

This year, Delia Associates celebrates its 60th anniversary, a remarkable achievement that Ed is incredibly proud of. His passion for branding led to the development of the Brand Leadership Solution, a proprietary and patented process designed to ensure B2B brands are consistent and powerful across all touch points, driving sustainable growth.

The Branding Conundrum

The Digital Identity Crisis

One of the most intriguing points Ed raised was the disconnect many companies face when translating their brand from the offline world to their online presence. This inconsistency can lead to a “branding problem,” where companies struggle to present themselves authentically on their websites. Ed pointed out that if a website project is stalled, it’s often not due to technical issues but rather a deeper brand positioning problem.

The Importance of Internal Alignment

Ed emphasized the critical role of internal voices in the branding process. Employees should feel like ambassadors, proud and confident in the brand they represent. If there’s hesitation to share the company’s URL or story, it’s a clear sign that the brand may not be resonating internally. In Ed’s process, internal feedback is gathered early to ensure that the brand fits perfectly with the company’s culture and values.

The Shift in Brand Storytelling

We also discussed the evolution of brand storytelling. The focus has shifted from a self-centered narrative to one that centers on the customer’s journey. Brands are now more concerned with understanding their customers’ pain points and positioning themselves as the solution. This customer-centric approach has become a pivotal aspect of modern branding.

The Delicate Balance of Family and Business

Transitioning a family business is no small feat, and Ed shared the delicate balance required to navigate this process. Clear boundaries between family and business interactions are crucial. The negotiation phase of the transition is particularly challenging, as it involves not just financial considerations but also emotional ones.

Acquiring Pre-existing Businesses

I shared my insights on the benefits of acquiring pre-existing businesses. New perspectives can breathe fresh life into operations, and strategic approaches to business transitions are necessary, especially when family members are involved.


My conversation with Ed Delia was rich with lessons on leadership, branding, and the unique dynamics of family businesses. As we celebrate the milestones of companies like Delia Associates, we also recognize the importance of evolving with the times, staying true to our brand’s core message, and ensuring alignment within our teams. Whether you’re part of a family business or looking to refine your brand’s presence, remember that common sense and a customer-focused approach can lead to remarkable success.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration of leadership and branding. Stay tuned for more insights and stories from the world of business, and remember to lead with common sense.

Guest Bio:

Ed joined Delia Associates in 1995 and was named President in 2000, taking over from his father and founder, Michael Delia. Ed transformed Delia Associates from a traditional advertising and PR agency into a growth center for B2B brands. Foundational to the company’s success is its proprietary B2B growth platform, The Brand Leadership Solution®.

Over 150 brands have been developed or revitalized using this proven methodology. Ed holds a B.A. in English from Dickinson College, in addition to a Professional Certified Marketer designation from the American Marketing Association. He is a frequent speaker to organizations and a guest lecturer at several colleges and universities.

Website: www.delianet.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eddelia/

Small business owners will hit an invisible wall that can stall the growth of the company. The key reason there is a wall is that owners need to shift from manager to leader. The question is, how to do that?

Doug is a coach for CEOs and Senior Leadership Teams with 30 years of leadership experience. He is the president & CEO of Doug Thorpe Group. Doug is also a podcast host.

He helps owners understand the ways they need to reshape their thinking and attitude to make a successful break through the wall.

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