Five steps for franchisors and franchisees to maximize your brand and generate business

By Leya Abramson
June 7, 2011

Picture this: you are on your way into work in the morning and you notice out of the corner of your eye the Starbucks logo. What is the first thing that comes to mind? When you see the Starbucks logo you might think of an elevated food and beverage offering in a cool, comfortable environment to read the paper or study. You may envision an upscale coffee bar with light wood, glass and chrome finishes. Perhaps even smell the inviting aroma of freshly ground coffee beans. You might think about what you order there typically – a Venti Soy Vanilla Latte or a Tall Bold. You may think about your experiences at Starbucks – were they positive or negative?

This brand so widely recognized that their company name is no longer necessary. Starbucks actually chose to remove their company name, “Starbucks Coffee” from their logo in order to open doors for growth into markets where non-coffee products outsell coffee products. Don’t we all want a brand as recognized as this? Don’t we all want to create a language that people around the world use?

When asked what Starbucks is all about, Howard Schultz, President and CEO of Starbucks, explains “We’re in the business of human connection and humanity, creating in a third place between home and work.”

In today’s times, where choice is everywhere and loyalty is difficult to attain, what do customers want from a brand? They want a brand that is human and authentic. They want a brand that gives back. They want a brand they can depend on – a brand that is consistent. They want a brand they can identify with and that has an attitude or a persona and gives them a great experience each and every time.

A brand is so much more than a logo. It is a full experience from every single touch point: from the colours and fonts, to the advertising, uniforms, décor, and friendly, attentive employees. With a franchise system, it is all that much more important to infiltrate the brand and brand standards from the very top all the way down the system.

Here are five steps that Franchisors and Franchisees can take to ensure a consistent, memorable brand at every level. Before we begin with step number one, let’s take a moment to define your brand.

What is your brand persona? Are you a fun, happy brand? Maybe you are a brand with a bit of edge and attitude. What is the culture within your brand? Does every employee, franchisee, area manager and dishwasher within your organization know what your brand exemplifies? Can you sum up your brand identity in one sentence?

1. Always, always, always be “on brand”

Franchisors must be consistent with national marketing efforts. Develop the persona for your brand and test yourself to make sure every piece gets that persona across. Being “on brand” means proper use of your logo and tagline and use of appropriate colours, fonts, etc. It also means being on brand with your marketing creative.

2. Provide tools and support to your locations.

Make it easy for your franchisees to be on brand and to advertise their stores locally. As a franchise system, marketing messages should not only come from head office and national marketing efforts, but also from individual locations. Provide a marketing manual with examples of how franchisees can get out in their communities in a way that is consistent with the parent brand.

One great way to get franchisees more engaged with marketing locally is to provide an incentive for those franchisees that are willing to advertise to their communities. Contribute a portion of your national ad fund to supporting the locations that choose to advertise with financial support.

Support your new franchisees with a grand opening manual. Have ad templates available to run in local papers. Provide window banners for new locations. Offer tips on how to get the local media out for a grand opening event.

As a franchisee you bought into a brand, a system, an experience, a promise. So did ever other franchisee in the chain. This is why it is crucial to be on brand with your local marketing initiatives.

3. Benefit from a local marketing budget

Franchisees – get into your community. Send some of your signature food products to your local radio station. If you do this on a weekly or monthly basis, the radio hosts might get excited about what will be delivered next. They will more than likely mention your restaurant on air. If they are impressed with the food, they may also blog about it. This is great exposure for your brand.

Give back to your community. Support local sports teams. Throw a charity carwash. Support local fire stations. Do anything and everything to send a “feel good” message out to your community. Consumers want to buy from brands that are personal and give back to the community.

4. Listen to what your franchisees are doing at a local level

Provide a forum for franchisees or store managers to post and share ideas with other locations. Feature one or two local marketing initiatives at your annual convention. Create a local store marketing round table for franchisees to share their marketing experiences. Your franchisees are in the stores day to day – pay attention to their operational issues, what works and what doesn’t. They might even help to create your next national campaign.

Another way to promote ongoing communication between locations and head office is to develop a back end to your website that allows franchisees to blog and talk to each other. You are a community. Leverage that.

5. Incent your staff

Develop a proprietary staff incentive program. The program should incent the staff at your locations. Develop a poster that can go in the back room explain the program to your employees. Make it interactive and fun.

Include a staff incentive program with each national campaign you send out. Get the staff involved. Provide them with the tools to succeed – scripts, role playing activities, etc.

To take staff involvement even further, work with an outside company to establish a customer service training acumen specific to your brand and your customer’s needs. Engaging your staff will increase staff loyalty and staff retention. It will also help your employees at every level understand what your brand stands for and who you are in the marketplace.

You now know that you don’t need to be Starbucks to begin building brand recognition. It is something that happens subconsciously for customers. The number one way to build your brand is consistency. Using these five hotpoints will help you to ensure your brand is consistent at every level and across every location. When customers experience a brand with a unique personality, great customer service and consistently good food, they will be loyal to you for life.

See also:

About the author

Leya Abramson is an account executive at the adlib group a Toronto-based boutique full-service marketing and communications agency.

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