Why Your Franchisees May Not Be Looking Out For Your Brand Image

A brand’s image is as good as gold. Where would Apple be today if it hadn’t reshaped itself to be synonymous with cutting-edge, consumer technology? Rolex would be just another watchmaker without its luxury brand. Needless to say, companies need to protect their brand image at all costs.
The omnichannel environment has made this endeavor immeasurably more difficult, however. With social media, online portals and other digital platforms added into the mix of brick-and-mortar stores, businesses have more touchpoints than ever to manage.

Brand conformity matters on a local level

It’s understandable that in this new, digital-focused environment, brands choose to put a lot of emphasis on their social media channels. After all, no one wants to make the same face-palming mistakes as Delta or American Apparel.

Don’t lose focus on how local franchises represent your brand.

That being said, you shouldn’t lose focus on your local franchises and how they represent your brand image. As advertising agency Killian Branding explained, there are numerous factors – both large and small – that add up to your complete brand image:

“Consumers have a collective image of a brand, created by the deployment of its brand assets: name, tradition, packaging, advertising, promotion posture, pricing, trade acceptance, sales force discipline, customer satisfaction, repurchase patterns, etc.,” the agency noted.

When local stores compromise brand integrity

When those details get missed on a local level, it ultimately hurts your brand. If a restaurant chain franchisee doesn’t maintain high standards for food preparation, customers in that area will associate your brand with poor quality. Likewise, after a single interaction with a short-tempered bank teller, a customer may identify your franchise with bad customer service.

These missteps aren’t always intentionally neglectful in nature, either. When individual franchisees deviate from brand messaging, they may just be looking out for their bottom line. For instance, a local franchise owner may offer discounts and promotions that haven’t been sanctioned from above. From their perspective, they’re bringing in more business by offering more enticing prices and incentives than competitors in the area. Sounds great, right?

Not so fast. Discounting products and services beyond normal guidelines is not included in brand guidelines for a reason. Undercut pricing by too much or too often and customers will begin to identify your franchise as an economical – but low-quality – brand. In the age of craft beers and artisanal product lines, being the cheap alternative on the block could be bad for business in the long run.

Fast Company explained that running unregulated promotions and sales can also condition customers to avoid shopping at stores when regular pricing is in effect. If customers know one of your stores runs frequent sales events, they’ll simply wait for those discounts to come around rather than pay full price.
It’s difficult to overcome these kinds of negative connotations once they’ve set in, which is why companies need to do whatever they can to safeguard their brand image on a local level.

Make sure you’re making a good impression.

Maintaining your brand image

There are many steps you can take to ensure your messaging is being followed and your brand image is safely intact on a local level. For instance, establishing clear, uniform workflows across all stores can help address quality concerns. If you’re worried a rogue employee will reflect poorly on your franchise, more strenuous and comprehensive training programs can establish clear expectations and guidelines regarding behavior and performance.

Another area to keep a watchful eye on is a store’s local page. Too often, companies hand the keys to these sites over to local franchisees to manage and maintain. They may then turn around and use those local pages to advertise unsanctioned promotions and sales. Or they may shorten the published hours of operation so their store opens later and closes earlier.

By taking back control of your local pages, you can be sure that every detail, from store hours and upcoming events to the language and precise phrasing on the site, is in line with your brand messaging. This level of oversight protects your brand image and maintains unwavering consistency across all brick-and-mortar locations.

Omnichannel may be king right now, but that doesn’t mean local stores should fade into the background. They’re one of the most important touchpoints you have, so make sure you’re making a good impression.

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