What’s in a franchise name?
Sarah Stowe | Editor | Franchising magazine and www.franchise.net.au
Branding is fundamental to a franchise, writes Sarah Stowe. So you want to invest in a successful franchise? It makes sense to align yourself to a brand that you can happily live and breathe day in, day out, for a few years. It makes sense to look for a franchise that gives you the training and support that best suit your abilities. It also makes sense to head for a brand that’s well recognised.
When asked to name a franchise business, many people will list one of the popular fast food brands and there is no doubt these chains have a high consumer recall. Prominent coffee chains are franchised and have bands of loyal customers who wouldn’t dream of sipping a cup of caffeine anywhere else.
But good branding and customer awareness can go beyond the food courts and strips that populate the country. What about the burgeoning gym market which includes some very lively fitness brands aggressively building national networks? There are business service outlets such as printers and signmakers whose banners hang on streets all over the country and whose names are on the top of our tongues when we need to recommend a service.
And they’re franchise brands.
It’s easy once you start to think of a sector of industry to name at least one or two brands trading within that market; even niche markets have their leaders, and if that’s an area you want to trade in, you’ll soon find which companies have good reputations – you’ll regularly come across the brand.
"But branding goes beyond a name. There is little value being part of a brand that has great levels of brand recognition, yet consumers don’t want to buy from. It’s immensely important that brands continue their relevance to their customers."
Brand familiarity and positioning is the great appeal of investing in a franchise. A franchisor has built up awareness for its product or service, and as a franchisee you can tap into that. For the majority of franchise systems, the brand really counts. Look at the Jim’s Group, which has broadened its scope beyond any expectations from its starting point as a lawn mowing franchise. New franchisor divisions join the group every year because of the name; we all know Jim’s.
But branding goes beyond a name. There is little value being part of a brand that has great levels of brand recognition, yet consumers don’t want to buy from. It’s immensely important that brands continue their relevance to their customers. Think how McDonald’s, for instance, has changed its menu and responded to customer concerns and preferences. The global burger chain is not the brand it was 15 years ago – it’s evolved. But we still understand the golden arches brand.
Communicating the brand’s message is fundamental and this happens at all levels of the business. Franchisees are likely to be involved in planning and implementing local area marketing, with assistance from head office. This serves a dual purpose – generating custom, and reinforcing brand positioning.
As franchisors grow their businesses the marketing and advertising of the brand should grow too: whether a franchise is featured on tv, radio, in local newspapers, through social media, catalogues, community group support, fundraising activities, sports sponsorships or in awards programs.
But branding goes beyond the obvious media campaigns. It includes uniform, store fit-out, vehicle branding, newsletters; it’s about how all members of staff interact with customers; it’s about the consistency of service and product, how complaints are handled. It’s the personality of a business.
As a franchisee you benefit from sharing in the brand; it then becomes part of your role to ensure that while the franchisor sustains the marketing campaigns that put your business name front and centre, you and your team are upholding the standards customers associate with the brand. That benefits everybody.