What do McDonald’s iconic golden arches and 7-Eleven’s inventory of necessity goods have in common? Both icon and inventory are shining examples of brand consistency for multi-location businesses or franchises. The brands rely on these attributes to set themselves apart from the competition. At the same time, many people use these qualities to quickly identify the two brands, no matter the location.
So, what do these giant brands have that most failing franchise businesses don’t?
What is brand consistency, and why does it matter in marketing for franchises?
Previously, we defined branding as the practice of shaping brand identity and values. This identity comprises what customers see, hear, think and even feel when they encounter your products or services. Think about identity as a set of customer expectations. Based on this definition, brand consistency aligns your marketing message with this set of expectations.
Brand consistency in marketing for franchises is exceptionally critical because:
• It establishes trust. Potential franchisees and customers alike should be able to anticipate how to approach your brand.
• It delivers a reliable customer experience across multiple locations and online or in person.
• It provides a way to measure the success of your franchise marketing plan.
In this blog, we discuss how you can build a consistent brand across different locations. To provide you with a solid foundation for your franchise marketing strategy, we break down our discussion into the following topics:
• What is the role of brand consistency in multi-unit franchise marketing?
• How to maintain brand consistency in marketing for franchises
• How to measure brand consistency in business franchising
• More tips on how to improve brand consistency
What Is the Role of Brand Consistency in Franchise Marketing?
First off, what is franchise marketing? Franchise marketing refers to any form of marketing for franchise, including the traditional approach (coupons, direct mail and flyers) and digital channels and methods. These include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media marketing.
We cannot stress enough the importance of brand consistency in both traditional and digital channels. Let’s take McDonald’s case as an example. The golden arches logo is as much a unique identifier for its physical stores as it is for its social media profiles. Beyond visual identity, consistency in business operations – its brand of fast service – also sets its locations and mobile applications apart. Through these recognizable elements, the multinational fast-food brand continues to drive sales, conversions and customer loyalty.
Further, franchise marketing systems need to maintain uniformity to achieve superior online visibility, one of the most valuable metrics for any franchise marketing strategy today. Enterprise SEO, or large-scale optimization, requires brand consistency to manage a corporate website’s thousands to millions of pages and present the right information to its broad market on search engines. Even local SEO practices, which apply to big and small franchises alike, leverage on-brand content to attract the right people to the right business location.
How To Maintain Brand Consistency in Marketing for Franchises
Nowadays, franchise online marketing is integral to building an omnichannel presence for both franchisors and franchisees. This is because of the current buying behavior: 81 percent of shoppers do online research before buying a product or service. And then, a great portion of those will visit a brick-and-mortar business after doing their web-based search.
So, maintaining consistency in business branding in this day and age requires you to leverage internet marketing channels and strategies, specifically enterprise or franchise SEO.
In this section, we put together key points for maintaining brand consistency, which are closely tied to enterprise SEO services and best practices:
1. Effectively Communicate Your Strategy
As a franchisor, you are responsible for relaying your franchise marketing strategy and reiterating brand consistency to franchisees. Usually, franchisees join franchising networks because of pre-established aspects of the business, including franchise marketing systems. Most of them sign up assuming you’d handle their online accounts and such.
So, ensure you’re setting the right expectations by providing franchisees with:
• A franchise online marketing plan that can be replicated across all units
• Branding guidelines, including branding assets
• Well-defined responsibilities for both franchisor and franchisees to encourage better brand ownership
2. Plan How To Set Up and Manage Online Accounts
What is a franchise marketing plan without local franchise SEO? Building a local presence is the most basic level of marketing for franchises. But in general, developing a plan for building a local presence falls in the hands of the franchisor. The good news is that you can decide whether to allow franchisees to handle their local accounts. Whatever you decide on, ensure that the responsibilities are clear and understood and the brand message is consistent in each unit.
The corporate office must tackle these first few steps correctly to avoid confusion once more people get involved. To ensure enterprise-wide alignment, franchisees may enlist an enterprise SEO agency, especially for their local optimization and social media management franchise marketing efforts.
3. Provide Training and Support
We’ve talked about sharing responsibilities between corporate and franchise units. But how do you instill the importance of brand consistency in each unit? Communicate to franchisees clearly and firmly that the consequences of failing to stay on-brand can directly affect everyone’s bottom line.
You wouldn’t want your entire brand to suffer from any of the following because of misaligned efforts:
• Negative brand reputation: Online and offline
• Low return on investment (ROI): Your advertising dollars should not be wasted
• Poor conversion, sales and revenue: People don’t recognize or know what to expect from a particular franchise, causing them to turn away
• Strained customer relationships: Loss of loyal customers due to a negative experience with a franchise
Note: Say you anticipate your franchisees outsourcing their enterprise SEO services. In that case, you can remind them to partner with a reputable franchise marketing agency to maintain consistency in marketing your brand image and products/services.
4. Measure the Quality of Brand Consistency in Marketing Efforts
Franchise businesses will have different franchise marketing systems and ways to measure their success. However, franchise SEO experts recommend a two-fold approach to assessing brand consistency in marketing for franchises.
• Determine the current state of brand consistency using a set of predetermined brand characteristics, such as brand visibility, brand presentation across marketing channels and market segments and brand guideline compliance.
• Evaluate revenue, market acceptance and brand reputation when brand consistency is high or low.
The right enterprise SEO company will emphasize the use of metrics in determining your success in this aspect. So it is also essential to choose your franchise marketing agency wisely.
How To Measure Brand Consistency in Business
Consistent brand presentation can increase brand visibility by three to four times. But how do you measure brand visibility, awareness or recognition? Here are some criteria to look at:
• Site traffic
• Search volume data (Branded and non-branded)
• Social media management franchise unit data (Social listening and engagement)
Also, for franchisors and franchisees hiring an enterprise SEO agency, find one that uses metrics to evaluate the success of your franchise marketing strategy in terms of brand consistency, among others.
More Tips on How To Improve Brand Consistency
What is franchise marketing success? Partly, it consists of a cohesive brand image across multiple franchise locations. An experienced enterprise SEO company would tell you this is hard to achieve on a massive scale, but it can be done.
Whether your franchise network comprises a few branches or hundreds of units – even more – you can rely on these specific yet crucial brand consistency tips for marketing your franchise:
• Keep your communication lines open. Let your presence be felt beyond the orientation or those times when something goes wrong.
• Don’t just talk about branding guidelines. Provide access to assets like logos, images, fonts and colors.
• Create templates and content that franchisees can customize to their local target market needs and preferences.
• Streamline the process of requesting new assets and fulfilling those requests.
• Invest around 8 percent of your total budget in advertising. Digital marketing now plays a big role in campaigns, so allocate a bulk of your ad budget and integrate traditional marketing wherever possible.
There are more tips for marketing your franchise that you can learn by doing and working with an enterprise SEO agency. So, if you have the capacity to hire one, save time, money and energy by picking the right partner.
Cohesive Branding for Franchise Marketing Success
We’ve highlighted some major points to showcase the importance of consistency in franchise marketing. We’ve answered:
• What is brand consistency, and what is the importance of brand consistency?
• What is franchise marketing, and what is a franchise marketing plan?
We’ve also mentioned the possibility of maintaining brand consistency with a proven and trusted franchise marketing agency. It may sound simple, but this can turn into an enormous task if you’re dealing with multiple franchisees at once.
A partner like Thrive can make life easy for both franchisors and franchisees. As a full-service online marketing company, we have the experience, expertise and bandwidth to assist you in employing enterprise SEO services.
We delve deeper into the intricacies of brand consistency. For instance, we have helped a multiple-location property restoration firm maintain a cohesive brand image while eliminating duplicate content and personalizing optimization for each of the franchise’s location pages. In just two years, we have increased this company’s site visitors to an average of 28,992 and leads to an average of 2,356 per month.
Our brand of holistic and personalized strategies can bring about substantial results for your business. Call us today to learn more about how we can keep your franchise marketing campaigns on-brand.