Customers are on the lookout for brands that harmonise with their values, ambitions, and lifestyles. By cultivating a unique brand personality, businesses can set themselves apart from the competition and nurture a stronger connection with their target demographic. Cameron Falloon, the founder of Body Fit Training (BFT), emphasises the importance of crafting a brand personality for your franchise and explains how it’s a fundamental component of franchising, which could either make or break your business.
A franchisor’s brand is the most significant investment they can make in their business. It symbolises who you are, your beliefs, and how you want to be perceived by your audience. A brand extends beyond a smart logo or a catchy slogan; it gives you a credible voice that people want to listen to. It’s crucial to get the key visual aspects in place from the beginning – a logo and name that epitomise your product or service and can be transferable and simply translated to various geographical territories, countries, or continents.
A compelling brand story can also bring together franchisees of the same mindset and create a community of customers. In franchising, your business’s success depends not only on the quality of the product or service but also on the ability to leave a lasting impression on consumers, which then sets the stage for growth. Developing a clear and defined personality is step one, but the ability to visually and verbally articulate who you are as a brand and what you stand for underpins everything you do and is your barometer on everything you put out into the market.
Safeguarding the brand
To safeguard the franchisor’s brand, there need to be clear rules and guidelines, style guides, and established processes and procedures to ensure franchisees understand their responsibilities and what is expected of them. A franchisee cannot stay on brand if they are unaware of what it entails – from brand values to tone of voice to the use of logos, colours, fonts, and all visual components. Providing clear examples of good practice will be extremely valuable for those franchisees who have no prior experience of running their own business.
Consistency across the network
Brand investment becomes even more crucial for those considering stepping into the world of franchising. As a franchisor starts opening new physical locations, such as a fitness studio or restaurant, and expands through a network of franchisees, it’s critical to maintain consistency across every franchise branch. This ensures quality is upheld and customer needs and expectations are met. This consistency forms the lifeblood of a franchise network and is attractive to prospects looking to join a franchise.
Keeping a check on franchisees
To maintain a successful franchise brand, franchisors must continually monitor their franchisees and take measures to address incidents where a franchisee strays from what is expected or from the brand. Providing additional training and support and rewarding those as and when required is an ongoing part of franchise brand protection. Ultimately, the franchisor has a responsibility to the whole franchisee network to ensure everyone is compliant. For instance, at BFT we conduct a quarterly brand standards audit across every single studio globally and this ensures our franchisees are always on brand, as well as highlighting any areas that may need attention.
Training and guidelines
It’s essential that all franchisees understand exactly why brand protection is so important and how to recognise the brand guidelines they are expected to follow. They also need to be aware of the benefits it will bring to their business, their customers, and to the rest of the franchise network by maintaining brand consistency. Franchisee training should outline the importance of brand consistency and the repercussions of failing to adhere to it. Engaging and involving franchisees from the start of their franchise journey is the secret to franchise branding success, making them feel supported and engaged.
At BFT, we provide our new franchisees with comprehensive training to ensure they understand the brand’s personality and voice, from taglines and brand messages, to fonts and brand guidelines. They also learn about all the touchpoints that a customer or potential customer will encounter during their interaction with the BFT brand and how it should be communicated to everyone. Each franchisee is given a library of marketing materials that they can use in their local communities and across social media, giving them a head start for their new businesses. This not only saves precious time and money, but it also allows them to focus on operating and expanding their franchises from day one.
Generally, franchisees are encouraged to engage with their local community market and raise the profile of their brand, i.e., putting their name, face, and personality at the forefront of their businesses. In such situations, it can sometimes be tempting for franchisees to deviate from the brand guidelines and do their own thing. To prevent this from happening and to ensure that franchisees stay on brand, franchisors can create a bank of templates and content for them to use, which can then be tailored to their different localities and cultures.
For some brands, like BFT, where there are physical locations and a service product, staying on brand also relates to product delivery and service standards within the studios. Keeping our franchisees within the framework of our programming is integral, otherwise, it could create opportunities for them to go rogue – something we then can’t control. Educating our franchisees and coaches is paramount on driving this framework, which is why we have our Level Up education arm and bootcamps to help them learn and understand the BFT brand guidelines.
In summary, the key to sustaining franchise branding success lies in the franchisor being crystal clear with expectations from the get-go and maintaining open lines of communication with their franchisees. Managing individual businesses in different geographical locations, often spread across the globe, can sometimes pose a considerable challenge. Regardless of the industry, product, or customer, a franchise’s brand is its single most important asset. Your brand is how you engage with the world, from your customers to your employees, and it all stems from the brand – a genuine differentiator that creates unique value for franchisees.