As a franchisor, it can be hugely frustrating to have all of your hard work undone by a rogue outlet. When a franchisee starts to produce non-compliant marketing materials, customers can get confused, loyalty can wane and your entire brand is put at risk.
The damage need not be permanent. Luckily, there’s an antidote, and it comes in the form of a clear-cut marketing campaign. When carried out with assistance from all of your franchisees, a straightforward campaign can unite your brand, grow your presence and put an end to non-compliant branding.
Brand Consistency Is Crucial for Franchisors
There are several reasons why it’s important to keep branding consistent, writes digital marketer Raubi Marie Perilli. A cohesive brand and consistent experience help to establish a sense of professionalism and build trust with customers. It also offers clarity so that customers know exactly who you are and what you stand for.
A consistent brand is essential for differentiating yourself from competitors and building trust within the market, writes branding expert William Arruda. “Brands are built through the consistent delivery of the brand promise through all stakeholder touch points. It is the consistent, desired experience that builds trust and trust is the foundation for loyalty and promotion.”
It’s all too easy for businesses big and small to suffer from branding inconsistencies. Among franchisees, non-compliance often happens without anyone realizing it. But that brand misalignment can quickly have a negative effect if it goes unchecked. “The brand can become disjointed, unreliable and divided so much that it confuses customers, clients, employees, and even the executive team,” says the team at Workfront.
But Maintaining Compliance Can Be Difficult
The bigger a franchise network gets, the more difficult it is to ensure franchisees are sticking to your brand guidelines, writes ARTventurers founder Fiona Simpson. Keeping an eye on franchisees is easy when franchises are local to you. “As the franchise network expands in both volume and distance this is no longer likely to be feasible and so the franchisor must have strategies in place to ensure quality control remains a priority.”
A lack of brand compliance in individual markets is one of the biggest concerns for brands, says Technivorz’s Raul Harman. “Franchisees tend to want to do things their way, and oftentimes they will step out of the branding parameters to try something new and different. While there should always be room for innovation and progress, this should be driven by the team at the headquarters only.”
When the central strategy is weak, however, individual franchisees might feel forced to take branding matters into their own hands. After all, being able to adapt to the local market is crucial to the success of an individual franchise, says FranGrow’s Gary Occhiogrosso.
A straightforward, centralized marketing campaign can anticipate these needs, however, and provide franchisees with everything they need to return to compliance.
Franchisees Want to Use Pre-Approved Campaign Content
A lot of brand non-compliance issues arrive because franchisees don’t have access to pre-approved marketing content when they need it. “The result is marketing which uses outdated logos or other brand materials, or that is simply missing these critical components altogether,” notes the team at Pageflex.
But all of this becomes readily available as soon as you invest in a centralized marketing campaign. Best of all, franchisees will be more than happy to use your campaign marketing material over their own non-compliant creations.
After all, few franchisees have the time to even create marketing materials. Anticipating their marketing needs will save them time and money and ensure brand consistency, the team at Signpost says.
It also means franchisees have one less decision weighing on their minds, writes BlueSky ETO’s Alayna Frankenberry. “When someone decides to open a franchise, they’re taking a big leap. Their career path, their finances, even their family life hang in the balance. They have to learn and evolve at a staggering pace in order to turn their investment into a profitable business. And while choice is a good thing, giving new franchisees too many choices can do more harm than good.”
In short, franchisees don’t want to deal with creating their own materials. They want to use your campaign materials instead.
Use Templates to Keep Local Marketing Messages Relevant
A centralized marketing campaign doesn’t have to lock franchisees into irrelevant messaging, however. The trick is to create templates that align with the campaign but also leave room for local customization. Things like bibond signs for businesses that have room for customization work great in cross country campaigns.
Building these kinds of templates goes along way to ensuring brand compliance, writes the team at Point Franchise. “Templates make it very easy for franchisees to adhere to your brand guidelines. These can then be used for local promotional activity to support the more extensive, nationwide marketing campaigns that you produce.”
This is becoming an increasingly popular strategy, says marketing consultant Sophie Livingston. “Rather than relying on an overworked design team to churn out request after request (often with a lengthy turnaround time), customizable templates put some of the responsibility back with the individual or local team.” By using this tactic, you’re empowering local franchisees to take advantage of opportunities all while remaining compliant.
The approval process for marketing materials created by franchisees also becomes easier with a centralized marketing campaign. Many companies struggle with keeping brand consistency in mind when approving content, which often leads to over-complicated approval processes, writes Jason Shen, now the co-founder and CEO of Midgame.
By using a brand checklist or simplifying the approval process, the problem of brand consistency can be quickly solved. Both of these are achievable when running a centralized marketing campaign with a clear message, design and goal.
Centralized Marketing Campaigns Supercharge Brand Growth
A strategic and comprehensive marketing campaign can often remedy damage caused by a non-compliant franchisee. That’s because centralized marketing campaigns are one of the best weapons franchises have in their arsenal, writes FranChoice’s Jeff Elgin.
Sharing budgets helps every franchise unit achieve much more than they could on their own. “This central fund can be used to do things that no single franchisee could afford, like running television advertising campaigns,” Elgin explains. “The fund can also be used to hire experts to produce advertising materials of far better quality than what an individual owner could create.”
A centralized campaign can also help the entire franchise leverage the latest advertising technology, says franchise lawyer Chad Finkelstein. “Being part of a franchise system, with its strength, resources and buying power, means franchisees can benefit when it comes to brand promotion. There are a number of advertising programs available to franchise systems to help disseminate a brand’s marketing and promotions at local, regional, national and international scales.”
What’s more, it’s in your franchisees’ interests to care about these campaigns, says the team at CampaignDrive. Franchisees have invested a lot into becoming part of your organization, and they want to make their money back as quickly as possible. Complying with national campaigns is almost certain to help. “Executing the right messages at the right time won’t just contribute to their sales at the local level, it also increases customer awareness of the brand on a national or international scale, making it easier to attract new customers.”
Next Steps for Franchisors
Successful franchisors take action to limit damage and move their brand forward. Creating a centralized marketing campaign is an important step toward network-wide brand compliance. As you create your own centralized campaigns, keep these tips in mind:
- Templates give you control over branding while giving franchisees the freedom to customize the message for their customers.
- A comprehensive brand checklist and a fast approval process help ensure compliance.
- Remember that franchisees want approved marketing materials. They only create non-compliant materials for themselves when their own local marketing needs aren’t anticipated.
Engage121 Can Help Rein in Non-Compliant Branding
Compliant marketing and franchisee messaging are two areas where we have a lot of experience. Our approach to wayward franchisee branding follows a simple process:
- We help develop a library of approved marketing templates that all franchisees can use.
- We pull data from across the entire franchise so individual franchisees can lean on the system’s collective intelligence.
- We create a centralized ad campaign in which franchisees promote their individual locations in the markets they serve.
We will be happy to show you how Engage121 simplifies compliant marketing for your franchise system. We’re ready to talk.