Building and Communicating Your Franchise's Identity and Brand
Can I ask you to join me in a small experiment?
Please take a moment to think about a franchise where you have been a customer recently. Please think about what that experience was like and what you purchased. Then take the experiment a bit further by asking what you learned about that franchise’s brand while you were there.
Let’s think about what your experience might have been if you had visited one of these two “hot” franchises.
If you bought a submarine sandwich at Jersey Mike’s, what made the experience unique, different… and branded? Was it something about the “Jersey” orientation of the company? Was there something about the way products were named that reinforced the brand? (One sandwich, you might have noticed, is called the “Stickball Special.”) Did the servers’ attitudes somehow reinforce the rough-and-tumble experience you associated with New Jersey?
If you shipped a package from a UPS store, what was there about that experience that reinforced the UPS brand? Were the walls a traditional UPS brown? Did employees wear UPS uniforms? Did the use of bar code and QR code scanners reinforce the idea that your package was being processed with modern technology? Was the entire transaction quick and convenient?
A brand is made up of products, premises, people, and more. But it goes deeper than those factors. Every organization has a purpose and stands for something. What about yours?
The roots of your franchise’s brand
Sometimes the seeds of a company’s identity were sown by the founder or by a group of individuals who started the franchise. But no identity is static, and over time it evolves as it is affected by new company leaders, employees, products, trends in the marketplace, the regions where your franchise operates, and even by your competitors.
So, who are you? That knowledge comes from considering questions such as:
- What makes us unique?
- Where have we been?
- Where are we going?
- What do we stand for?
- What is it about our unique products or services that makes people want to work here and build their future with us?
- Why do people want to become our customers?
- How are we perceived as a company?
Are your brand and culture positive?
Let’s face the fact that people like to shop and do business with franchises that project a positive culture and brand. Let’s consider some of the traits of positive and negative company cultures. Organizations with positive company cultures often:
- Are customer-focused and provide great customer service
- Have a high level of ethics
- Are committed to community, the environment, and other strong values (e.g., a sustainability mindset)
- Project an atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie
- Keep employees’ families in mind and promote a positive work/life balance
- Foster a positive approach and sense of fun
- Encourage employees’ personal and professional development
- Provide excellent training and promote learning
- Create opportunities for growth and advancement
- Have strong and shared core values
- Promote technological innovation
Now let’s think about the flip side. If you walk into a company with a negative culture, you will see one or more of the following things happening:
- Employees have negative attitudes
- Employees provide a low level of customer service
- Technology and systems are not working well
- Brand-reinforcing visuals like graphics and uniforms are used inconsistently or haphazardly
- The premises are not spotlessly clean
Your franchise already has a foundation for a great brand. Are you actively defining and cultivating it? If not, what kind of planning can you put in place to build an outstanding brand that supports your success in the marketplace?
Evan Hackel, a 35-year franchising veteran, is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company, and principal and founder of Ingage Consulting. He is a speaker, author, and host of “Training Unleashed,” a podcast covering training for business. This article is adapted from his latest book, Ingaging Leadership Meets the Younger Generation. Contact him at evanspeaksfranchising.com, follow him at @ehackel, or call 781-820-7609.
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Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 2, 2022