When it comes to building a successful franchise, brand consistency is key. The entire point of purchasing a franchise opportunity is to leverage the success and popularity of the original brand. How can you piggyback on the success of the original if customers don’t associate the franchise with the product or service they’ve come to know and love?
Strong Brand Power
For strong brand power you should develop your brand using a number of different elements to give it breadth and depth, and keep all of those elements consistent across every franchise. Customer will come to recognize a brand not just by its name and logo, but through catch phrases (think Subway – Eat Fresh), jingles, color schemes, and a whole slew of other factors that combine to provide an overall brand experience. By developing and defining each of these elements, you can ensure that your brand is replicated the same way from one franchise to the next.
Physical Consistency of the Brand
Physical consistency of a brand includes everything from:
- Building design
- Promotional material
- Production and presentation of product/service
A customer in Buffalo, New York vacationing in Sedona, Arizona should be able to walk into this new location and feel as if they were back home in Buffalo. Everything about the franchise should mirror the original; otherwise, you run the risk of being considered as a new business, losing all of the goodwill from the original brand.
To maintain this level of consistency, most franchisors develop a set of guidelines, outlining general business practices and processes, and setting specific standards for levels of customer service. These guidelines should be mandatory in nature, to ensure that franchisees do not degrade the brand in any way.
One of the greatest benefits of franchising is that menus and promotional items can be printed in bulk and distributed to franchisees, reducing costs. Contracts for inventory, uniforms, supplies, and services can also be negotiated at the corporate level with a much higher buying power – leading to significant cost savings and ensuring consistency throughout the franchise.
Digital Consistency of the Brand
Going hand in hand with physical consistency, franchisors need to keep in mind the way their brand is represented in digital media, especially if they allow franchisees to operate their own websites, manage their own marketing strategies, and create social media profiles. The distinctive essence and voice of a brand can be muddied online by well-meaning franchisees wanting to infuse their own individual personalities.
Consider creating a style guide, to ensure that franchisees’ interactions online accurately reflect and champion your brand as you would like to see it represented. After all, you are in charge of setting the direction of the original brand. Your style guide can include whatever you want but should include as a minimum:
- Instructions for use and reproduction of logos and other trademarked materials
- Content guidelines outlining what type of content should be used, preferred keywords and phrases as well as phraseology to avoid
- Templates for web pages, banners, press releases, customer surveys, email marketing, mail-out products, etc.
Some degree of conflict can be easily avoided by creating and distributing digital content for franchisees to use, such as blog posts, company news, photos, graphics, landing pages, display advertisements, and more.
Consider creating a corporate website for your franchise, and provide each franchisee a sub-domain to use for their individual websites. Provide a banner and a template to ensure a consistent look and feel from one site to the next.
The power of a franchise lies in the strength of its branding, in which consistency plays a critical role. Consistent branding means ensuring that each and every member of your franchise is readily identified as a member of your team, and is using the same playbook.