When it comes to branding and franchises, consistency is king. That’s why most franchisors impose strict limitations and guidelines on individual franchisees, in order to build and maintain a consistent brand across regional and national markets. Unfortunately, the effort involved in regulating this strict brand consistency among franchisees can often be tedious at best. Here are five simple tips to help motivate and encourage franchisees to maintain brand consistency.
1. Define Your Brand
In order to be consistent, have a clearly defined brand that speaks to your original core values. Your franchise brand establishes your customer’s perception and gives your customers a baseline of expectations. Set the marks for a consistent level of customer service, quality control, use of your logo, acceptable advertising campaigns and anything else that could affect your brand image. Franchisees need to have a clear understanding of what the brand is all about in order to accurately reflect the desired values.
2. Develop Clear Cut Brand Guidelines
Establish guidelines on how franchisees can and should use marketing materials and messages including the most important do’s and don’ts. Decide what tasks individual franchisees should be responsible for, such as local business listings, review site pages and social media. Provide training and a clear set of instructions on how each of these tasks should be accomplished to ensure a consistent look, feel, and message. Provide templates for layout, logo usage and NAP (name, address and phone number) formatting. Many franchisees will find it saves time to follow a template rather than reinventing the wheel themselves.
3. Create Subdomains Instead of Individual Webpages
Local search / franchise SEO specialists used to advise franchisees to create their own individual websites before Google began to crack down on duplicate content. Now this practice can hurt, rather than help the national brand and all of its franchises. The best practice for managing your online presence today is to build a main franchise website, and then create subdomains for each location (i.e. location.franchise.com or franchise.com/location). This allows each franchise to feature local news, specials and information on their individual pages, while all of the product information and brand promotion is featured on the main page. This saves a lot of duplication of effort — and duplication of content, while at the same time ensuring brand consistency.
4. Provide Approved Digital Content
Most franchise owners are far too busy running their individual franchises to want to spend a lot of time creating marketing materials, and will gladly take advantage of approved digital content, including landing pages, advertisements, videos, blog posts, banners, templates and more. Save your franchisees time and money by having professional marketing content created for all to use, and you will ensure consistency of your brand across your entire online presence.
5. Use Marketing Software That Facilitates Brand Consistency
Whether you as a franchisor require, and maybe even pay for, marketing software or just make recommendations, keep your goal of brand consistency in mind when evaluating marketing software. Can you monitor and enforce the use of the right brand visuals and messaging when interacting with customers? Think about email and sms marketing tools for your franchisees, or social media management. You want to make sure the vendor as well as the actual software understands franchises and emphasizes the power of brand.
6. Provide Incentives and Rewards
Incentivize franchisees to maintain brand consistency by providing positive feedback, encouragement and occasional rewards. Whether it’s a simple mention in a newsletter, an actual award at a regional or national conference or some sort of point-based rebate on franchise fees, you’ll get a much more positive response to incentives than you will from threats of litigation. Provide franchisees a set of goals to work towards and reward them appropriately for meeting those goals. Always remember to recognize those who are doing an outstanding job and encourage them to share their success story with other franchisees.
If you follow these practices, your franchisees will come to see you as a marketing partner and their champion, rather than a strict corporate tyrant issuing a lot of restrictive rules and restrictions.