Your franchisees will benefit from strong branding – so how can you ensure it's consistent?
When it comes to positioning your franchise as a brand that your customers can trust, consistent branding is key.
Whether it’s the face-to-face customer service element, or what potential customers are seeing posted on social media, your customers need to know that they can expect the same familiar experience with your brand across the board.
Take any well-known franchise, like Subway for example – Subway customers know that they can walk into any Subway franchise around Australia, and be greeted by staff in the same uniform, offering them their favourite sub.
The success of larger franchises like these all boil down to brand consistency. A consistent brand will help customers to associate higher quality with the franchise – whereas issues like conflicting messaging and inconsistent offers between franchisees will only serve to damage work being done by all franchisees on a local area marketing level, and not just the offender.
As a franchisor, sometimes it might seem tough to manage your brand identity while getting your 10, 100, or even 1,000 plus franchisees to get on board and align their local area marketing activities with what you’re coordinating above and below the line to support them.
It’s important to empower franchisees to take control of their local area marketing (LAM), however this can create challenges around maintaining brand consistency.
Your marketing team might be faced with issues like:
How can we monitor what the brand looks like across different channels?
How can we get franchisees engaged with brand strategy? Or, most importantly:
How can we work with franchisees so that we trust each other to present the best possible version of the brand to our target audience?
To solve these problems, it can be tempting to just send franchisees a set of instructions on how to represent the brand and then just hope for the best.
However, until everyone in the brand understands how brand consistency will benefit not just the brand as a whole, but the fact that it can help to grow individual franchisees, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve the desired result of a unified approach to the brand.
The brand values
Your franchise’s brand consists of things like your core business values, brand style guide, tone of voice, unique selling points, and what you offer customers. When communicated on their own, these don’t mean much – but pull them together, and you can effectively convey your franchise brand offering.
This will give your franchise a clear-cut identity that can help it to stand out from competitors in a crowded and noisy marketplace.
Effectively conveying this varied set of attributes relies on everyone in the franchise actively demonstrating and reflecting your brand values in everything that they do; from local area marketing, through to the experience a customer has when they get in touch with their local franchisee. This gives your business an identity, which helps potential customers better relate to it and become more likely to convert to actual, loyal customers.
If your brand has already established brand consistency, that’s a wonderful achievement that your marketing team needs kudos for.
Social media consistency
However, you need to be ever-vigilant and mindful of brand slippage. For example, it can be easy for franchisees to create their own brand presence on Facebook without head office awareness or consent.
In this instance, you could look at implementing scalable social media management tools into the franchise nationally, to ensure correct use of the brand while helping to support franchisees at a local level.
It may have been effective to monitor franchise Facebook pages manually when the business had just a handful of franchises, but as the franchise grows, its important its support systems do – otherwise you risk suffocating the brand.
Larger brands find that partnering with franchise social media specialists with efficient platform management technologies is a huge cost-effective time-saver that can resolve such issues. Leveraging available technology to scale social media solutions will ensure you’re achieving cohesive branding, while empowering your franchisees to run LAM campaigns.
Social media is also an excellent example of how different approaches to a marketing channel can really dilute a brand’s strength and consistency. While you might find that most, if not all, of your franchisees are comfortable with traditional and dying marketing mediums like flyer drops, social media is another story altogether.
Some franchisees embrace the platform, and many do so without applying basic brand elements to their social media presence. Other franchisees will be slow to adopt, citing it as too hard, or too much work.
Both approaches slow the brand’s growth and path toward brand consistency down, with marketing teams often investing a costly amount of time to get franchisees at both ends of the spectrum on the right path, to benefit both parties.
Tools for franchisees
With an understanding of what works best for the brand and for their franchise, and why it matters, franchisees are more likely to stay on track.
It doesn’t stop at education, either – give them the tools they need to succeed. If you know all of your franchisees are keen to post about your latest national offer on Facebook, send them the image with correct branding that you’re happy for them to post – and even make some suggestions for copy.
Social Media can be one of the most effective tools to support both your national and local marketing efforts, but implementing processes to maintain brand consistency is the key to success.