Franchising is an exciting (and sometimes crazy) world. When you’re a franchised business, especially in the baby, child and family sector, you’re surrounded by lots of like-minded people. People who became franchisees because they experienced your brand first-hand as a parent or carer, and then fell in love with it through their children.
They’ve probably been strong advocates of your brand long before becoming franchisees. Which means they instantly bring with them bucketfuls of passion and enthusiasm, both enviable qualities in any industry.
Enthusiasm is infectious
And it really is an amazing phenomenon, watching more and more of these highly-energetic people join your business as your franchise network grows.
Their enthusiasm is infectious. And they, in turn, seek out people who are equally as passionate about your brand to work for them.
One of the biggest marketing challenges you probably find yourself facing is how to channel all that lovely positive energy in the right direction as far as your brand is concerned. And if you’re not facing it yet because you’ve only just started to franchise your business, you soon will be!
The importance of a strong brand
Remember that your brand is about so much more than your logo. And the stronger your brand, the more it will increase the value of your business.
How your brand is applied across everything that you do, by both you and your franchisees, has a massive impact on its strength.
A strong brand:
- makes you instantly recognisable, especially in such a crowded sector;
- helps people know what to expect from you; and
- helps clients connect with you on an emotional level.
The need to protect your brand
But however strong your brand is, it can be quickly damaged if it’s not presented as it should be.
Which is why you need to ensure that everybody in your business is well-versed in all aspects of your brand. From your logo to your colour palette, and your company workwear to the words you like to use (as well as those you don’t).
And, just as importantly, those areas of communication that are harder to define. Such as how you interact with your clients day-to-day, whether on the phone, via email, or face-to-face.
Protecting your brand becomes increasingly difficult as the size of your network increases. That’s why it’s never too early to implement systems to help you maintain brand consistency, while also making it easy for franchisees to adapt your marketing messages so they fit with their local communities.
It may be your brand that first grabs a potential client’s attention, but people buy into other people, and your franchisees are the face of your brand locally. Which is why it’s so important to balance brand consistency with that lovely local feel.
So what can you do?
Provide clear and comprehensive brand guidelines
- It’s important to document your brand guidelines in a way that’s both easy to read and practical to apply. Make sure the information you provide is relevant. There’s little point in listing all your pantone colour references and design considerations, for example, if you don’t want franchisees to produce their own marketing materials.
Provide thorough brand training, right from the start
- You probably already provide some degree of marketing training for your franchisees as part of their start-up, but having stand-alone training in all things brand-related really does make a difference. Just getting people to think about brands generally, and how they interact with other brands in their daily lives, helps them to join the dots when it comes to your own brand. And once people get as enthusiastic as you about the different elements of the brand, you’ll find that they start to self-monitor how they and their team members apply it – which makes your job a whole lot easier.
Provide systems & support
- If your franchisees are going to stay on-brand, it’s crucial to put systems in place that allow them quick and easy access to branded content. And to ensure they don’t feel the need to create their own, they need to be able to easily tailor that content to their own local markets in some way.
- Regular monitoring – and feedback – of your franchisees’ marketing activity is crucial. It can be time-consuming, but without it you won’t know about any deviations from your brand until it’s too late. With the best will in the world, somebody may not realise that what they’ve produced is off-brand until it’s pointed out to them. And anything that’s off-brand has a nasty habit of spreading like wildfire as others in your network adopt it, tailor it, and use it in their area, too.
The importance of strong, consistent branding can never be underestimated. And the earlier you put systems in place to support your network, the more you’ll reap the benefits further down the line.