Branding a Franchise Business

By Chris Wadsworth

Published in The Source issue 10

If you run a franchise business or are thinking of turning your business into a franchise then branding is a key consideration in more ways than one.

Branding for franchise growth

If you own a franchise then branding is a strategic tool to attract franchisees and expand the business. A well branded and marketed business will lend itself more readily to franchising and because many entrepreneurs seek out franchise opportunities to leverage the equity of an established brand it is important to create and refine branding before bringing franchisees on board. Considering branding at an early stage will also give you the opportunity to establish structures and systems for the successful implementation and management of branding as the franchise expands.

Branding plays a big role for customers making a purchase decision and if done successfully it can increase sales and the perceived value of a product or service. A potential franchise buyer will have the same perceptions of a business as a customer and even if they aren’t the intended target audience successful branding will still present to them a professional business with an attractive offering.

Franchise buyers want a business with a successful formula they can build upon and with effective systems they can inherit. For this reason a small franchise needs the same systems in place as a large company if the franchise is to attract franchisees and grow without problems. Establishing well-structured branding will not only help the growth process by attracting more customers and franchisees but will also facilitate this growth as the branding can upscale in a measured and considered way building brand recognition and value as it does.

Managing franchise branding

A key factor for successful branding is consistency. The more people involved in producing marketing and communications materials for a business the more opportunity exists for branding to become disjointed and inefficient if effective guidelines aren’t in place. This becomes particularly significant when branding is applied by franchisees. By creating their own ad formats and marketing materials that deviate from company branding they can undermine the value of the very brand that attracted them to buy into the business in the first place. Done multiple times over many franchises and the foundation of the brand message is eroded, the customer ends up confused and value is lost.

Brand management is essential as a franchise is not only built by the franchisor, but also by the franchisees. This makes it very important for every franchisee to work together towards maintaining the reputation of the company. It is a good idea to explain clearly to franchisees how the brand building efforts of the franchise are intended to bring value to their franchise investment.

Successful branding for franchises needs the flexibility to react to local competition and accommodate differences across markets while having a strong enough structure to hold together the different franchises it is being used by. Good branding guidelines should be documented to make it easy for a franchisee to understand what the brand stands for and how it should be presented. It’s also important for franchise owners to be approachable to ideas from franchisees and offer them support in their marketing and communications efforts. This approach has the potential to evolve a brand that builds upon the collective efforts of the whole business.

Ready to branch out?

With the inclination of many New Zealanders to start their own businesses, buying into a franchise is very popular in this country. If set up properly the franchise model can be a great way to expand your business quickly and successfully, but it isn’t an easy task. Like any business of value there has to be planning, investment and foresight to make it a success and running a franchise business means there’s more that needs to be considered than usual.

Posted 15 November 2011

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