Brand consistency is a complex subject and it becomes even more so when you talk about franchises. Let’s have a look at what brand consistency is and how it applies to franchises.
When you think of any big company (Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, etc.) the first thing that pops into your mind is that one element that makes the brand relatable to you. In most cases, an image, a colour, or even a sound comes to mind before you think of the actual name of the company or their logo. You recognize an Apple product at a glance, just by seeing the slick, clean and simplistic design, long before seeing their logo.
This happens, because most companies that have achieved brand consistency are going to great lengths to ensure that their brand guidelines are being followed to the letter in any and every one of their marketing and advertisement efforts.
By exposing a regular person to the same colours, sounds, look and feel, on a regular basis, you eventually generate an automatic recognition of your brand, even on a subconscious level. This, in turn, generates a larger client base. For example, when someone is faced with a decision of choosing between your product and your competitor’s, the scales will often tilt in your favour.
What this means is that from a certain point onward, you no longer need to put as much effort into convincing consumers that your product is the one they should buy. Their needs and your brand become so closely linked, that it becomes a pseudo-reflex to be top-of-mind whenever that need arises. In some cases, the need is triggered by certain elements used by the brand itself. For instance, just by thinking of McDonalds’ golden arches, you may get a slight urge to have a Big Mac. Another good example is Netflix with their unmistakable audible signature.
Buying something rarely happens in a purely cognitive manner where a decision is reached only after every pro and con is weighed against each other. Reality is much simpler than this. People often make an emotional connection with what your brand represents for them, and based on that the decision to purchase, or not, is made.
The bottom line is that by exposing consumers to your consistent branding, you become the “Who?” in their minds when a need for a product or service such as yours arises.
What does it mean?
The essence of Brand Consistency can be boiled down to 3 major aspects:
Providing customer experience to consumers;
Adding value for customers through the quality of your product;
Defining unique elements that make your brand stand out among the multitude of alternatives.
When looking at brand consistency from a franchisor’s point of view, it translates into making sure your franchisees are using and following your brand guidelines in all their marketing communications efforts and processes.
A uniform message needs to be broadcasted across all channels by everyone involved in your communications, and in the products or services offered to consumers.
An important aspect of brand consistency is maintaining a delicate balance between HQ control of brand guidelines and allowing franchisees a certain degree of freedom to create their own, localized marketing content. A common situation is one in which franchisees are spread across many countries and cultures, where the mentioned balance must be achieved between the cultural differences of the geographical area and brand identity.
Ensuring that every part of your franchise has access to the same branded marketing materials or assets, is an essential part of brand consistency within a franchise. This means eliminating as many of the unknown variables as possible, which occur between the original brand guidelines and the marketing assets created and used by franchisees.
The easiest way to do this is to implement a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution which acts as a central point for digital assets storage. DAM allows franchisees to access visual and audio assets such as logos, images, videos, and sound files that fit the brand guidelines. Franchisees can use those assets to create their own, localized content while staying on-brand and adding to brand consistency. In the end, the whole franchise benefits.
Keep your brand consistent?
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