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Franchise Branding: A Comprehensive Playbook
Events during the past few years have created unique challenges for businesses, but franchisees have been hit particularly hard. However, we are now in a period of recovery.
The brands that are making the most of this are those that are willing to invest in development. Some 96% of the companies meeting or exceeding their current goals are planning to maintain or increase development spending.
If you’ve made franchise branding a priority for your company, keep reading. This guide will help you get started.
Create a Franchise Branding Platform
When branding a franchise, consistency is key. No matter what the product is, people choose franchises because they expect certain standards to be met in product quality, customer service, and even somewhat intangible elements of the customer experience.
The franchise branding platform is a centralized document that every franchisee must comply with to ensure that consistency. Here are steps to take to create your franchise branding document:
- Communicate a clear mission statement
- Establish company values
- Create detailed customer personas
- Set out branding assets
- Provide instructions for consistent branding across channels
Organizations should train employees at every level in franchise branding. Whether creating a local marketing strategy or serving customers at the counter, they need to understand how to present the brand your team has built.
Keep Your Franchise Branding Consistent
The branding platform sets the standards and provides every franchisee with guidelines to follow. That’s great, but it isn’t enough. Franchise branding is so vital that you must implement procedures for auditing franchises to ensure that they are consistent.
However, this doesn’t start at the front door of the franchise. Instead, measuring consistency and compliance begins in the corporate office. It should include:
- Reviewing the brand platform for contradictory or outdated information
- Purging outdated branding assets
- Ensuring that communication with franchise owners is adequate
Finally, franchise owners need support. They are dealing with staffing and other operational concerns, especially post-COVID. They must have access to branding information and a clear channel for addressing any concerns.
Measure Brand Compliance
You’ve set your franchisees up for success. Now, you need a way to track brand compliance and deal with problematic brand inconsistency before it has a negative impact. Regularly visiting every location is probably a non-starter. Fortunately, some strategies can help you gain the insights you need:
- Delegate compliance monitoring to regional or district management teams
- Use mystery shoppers
- Survey customers
- Conduct audits of franchisees’ digital footprints
- Create a checklist for thorough audits
However you approach compliance auditing, it should never be a negative experience. Instead, it should be viewed as an opportunity to communicate and learn.
Ensure that owners see this as an opportunity to grow their sales and revenue by engaging in proven branding tactics that have worked for other franchisees over the years.
Implement a Centralized Digital System for Brand Assets
Branding compliance and consistency will only happen when everyone has access to the latest digital assets. These assets include logos, color schemes, font libraries, bios, and more.
Branding will quickly become confused without a plan for ongoing brand asset management. Remember that with a franchise, branding is something that potentially applies to dozens of stores across multiple regions. Many national and international franchise organizations deal with this issue on such a large scale that it is imperative to have a centralized system for brand assets.
At any given time, all of these franchisees are engaged in marketing campaigns, communicating with current and prospective employees, and providing customer support. You can help ensure they can do these things effectively by investing in a brand asset management tool like the one offered by MarcomCentral.
Make Collaboration Accessible to All
Collaboration is key to branding a franchise. There should be a way for all stakeholders to have input into branding.
Creative collaboration shouldn’t limit access to marketing team members or executives. Franchisees and other staff are in the unique position to receive first-hand customer feedback on what is and is not working as far as brand identity is concerned. Their input can lead to branding improvements that make a positive difference.
Allow For Local Franchise Marketing
When branding a franchise, you must create a powerful and consistent image. At the same time, branding shouldn’t be so rigid that you risk never connecting with local audiences.
Remember that franchise owners and their management teams are also community members. Your branding platform should provide a necessary framework, but franchise owners need some autonomy to reach local audiences in a way that resonates.
Try These Marketing Channels
Franchisees should be encouraged to use marketing channels that allow them to reach local audiences. This reach can help them to increase sales, build brand awareness, and grow foot traffic. Here are some potential marketing channels:
- Local broadcast media
- Location-specific Facebook pages
- Local SEO — Google My Business
- Directories that are regional or city-specific
- Review websites
- Location targeted pay-per-click campaigns
- Local print media
When customers search for franchises online, they usually want to connect with local franchises.
Make the Most of Local Culture and Events
Every community develops its own unique culture that combines local favorites, language, historical events, favored landmarks, local cuisine, and even sports fandoms.
Franchise branding shouldn’t just respect the local culture — the branding should embrace it. For example, a sporting goods franchise might highlight a favorite local team in its marketing. A restaurant might promote a “local favorites” menu that pays homage to local cuisine.
Local events offer another opportunity to consider when branding a franchise. Owners and staff can seek out famous events to locals, then find ways to connect with these events. This work may be as simple as sponsoring a local event or as involved as creating a tie-in with a local franchise marketing campaign.
Branding a franchise is a complex task that never truly ends. You must create a clear brand identity, communicate it effectively, and find a way to enforce compliance. At the same time, franchisees must have the autonomy to present the brand in a way that respects and makes the most of their local cultures.The best path to success is to create a strong branding platform and fairly rigid compliance standards. Then, give the necessary leeway to adjust branding as needed, and allow for creative input. MarcomCentral can help you accomplish this. Contact us for a free quote to learn more.