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Franchise Marketing Strategies: How to Achieve Brand Consistency Across Your Franchise Network

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July 9, 2024


By Jacob Emert

A persistent challenge for franchise networks is establishing and maintaining the balance between brand consistency and individuality. Although each location’s response to its local demographic contributes value, a network’s overall franchise marketing strategy must align with the established brand’s image, values, and goals.

Maintaining consistent branding across a franchise network enables franchisees to start their marketing strategy from the halfway point. Franchise marketing essentially uses an established brand identity as a jumping-off point for business success. Put simply, instead of developing and executing a corporate-level marketing strategy from scratch, new franchisees take advantage of what's already in place.

The Benefit of Consistent Branding Across a Franchise Network

One major advantage of entering into a franchise is the inherent ability to advance in your business of choice by leveraging a prominent brand’s existing clout. Franchisees in new territories benefit from leveraging an existing brand—in some cases, a brand that is already known in the territory in which they set up shop—to more quickly establish themselves as a recognized solution for the local community.

 

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Strong brand consistency and identity means that customers know what they’re going to get each and every time they do business with a brand, regardless of where they are or if they’ve been to that particular location before. There’s comfort in knowing what you’re getting yourself into, and people seek that comfort by choosing well-recognized brands with which they’re already acquainted.

This essential consistency is perhaps most beneficial to a new franchisee opening up in a new territory, which creates a great selling point for the franchisor looking for additional franchisees. Strong brand consistency means when a branded truck, sign, or storefront shows up in a new territory, the rate at which it will be recognized, welcomed, and accepted increases dramatically. Clear value exists there for both the franchisor and franchisee.

Key Components of an Effective Franchise Marketing Strategy

One key to effective franchise marketing is the ability to combine the franchise system’s established role in the industry with a local twist to further the enterprise. What makes for an effective franchise marketing strategy differs greatly across industries and brands, but a few constants apply over and over again, including:

  • A cohesive brand identity complete with brand guide
  • The ability to communicate what differentiates your brand
  • A strong online presence that covers both paid and organic channels
  • Franchisee-level support systems

Maintaining Consistent Branding Within a Franchise System

A robust brand guide is a necessary starting point for achieving brand consistency, but so is understanding the wide range of your franchisees. 

Consider this example: A brand does a photo shoot with the goal of producing new visual assets to share with their franchisees for local marketing efforts. The shoot takes place on a beautiful, sunny day in Florida, where the franchise is based. When the franchisee who is based in Denver gets their hands on the photos and sees all the palm trees and beaches, they know that won’t be relevant to the local market. As a result, the franchisee feels that they need to go out and create their own content—a well-intentioned impulse, but one that risks disrupting brand consistency.

To achieve an effective level of brand consistency across their franchise network without sacrificing individuality, franchisors must prioritize:

Strategically Chasing Trends

There’s a difference between chasing fads, which only some businesses do well, and adapting to consumer trends, which all businesses must do well. However, you can only adapt to changing trends and preferences if you know what they are, so you must implement an efficient system for gathering feedback from primary stakeholders. Some brands use social media; others send out surveys or questionnaires. Countless brands choose to employ and combine various feedback channels for reaching diverse target audiences. And this doesn’t just cover actively asking customers for their input; local market and industry research is necessary for fully grasping your buyers’ and franchisees’ latest preferences.

Competitive Differentiation

Competition will always create challenges. In the paid search space, for instance, clicks often get more expensive when a new competitor enters the fold, which means your ad spend budget doesn’t stretch quite as far. However, this also creates opportunities to strengthen brand differentiation. Each competitor who enters your industry should teach you something about your brand and how it is unique, strengthening your overall marketing strategy.

Using Proven Tools to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Despite popular belief, innovation doesn’t always need to be fresh, glitzy, and glamorous. Sure, creative, one-of-a-kind promotions can help a brand get in front of new customers and increase sales, which is great. But although they don’t seem as “shiny and new,” well-built back-end systems (e.g., CRMs) that allow for efficient communication across all internal and external marketing partners enable more consistent and sustained growth. There’s no doubt that advanced technology continues to transform nearly every aspect of modern marketing, and franchise marketing is no exception. Franchisors should certainly keep an eye on emerging digital tools and strategies to stay competitive, but they must also remain invested in what has reliably worked for their business. 

The Importance of Balancing Uniformity and Flexibility

To maintain balance between following trends and sticking to what works, franchisors need a strong system for collecting feedback from consumers at the local level, compiling and understanding it at the national level, and then disseminating it back to the local franchisees. 

Most components of franchise brands work across a large area—otherwise, the concept of franchising wouldn’t make much sense. But franchise systems must be aware of what parts of their business need to be tweaked at the local level, whether that’s specific products or services that don’t sell as well in a given area or messaging that needs a slight shift to better serve a local customer base. 

Building Your Brand's Presence and Growing Your Franchisees

One of a franchise’s greatest strengths is the power that comes from large-scale systems combined with local, on-the-ground business owners. Therefore, listening to those owners and trusting their knowledge of the territory is important for success.

Consistently researching, gathering, and analyzing feedback from every stakeholder level is the key to achieving brand consistency across a franchise network. By integrating the proper tools and channels, you can build your business, expand your networks, and boost revenue—with a little help from SmartBug’s franchise marketing experts.

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Topics: Marketing Strategy, Digital Marketing, Franchise