Understand your target market and develop a niche proposition.
As a franchise owner, you will soon come to understand why branding forms the foundation of marketing, and in fact, has the power to foster preference and loyalty, leading to repeat purchases and increased profit margins.
So what do consumers take into consideration when choosing one brand over another and what can you do to ensure that your franchise brand remains ‘top-of-mind’?
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1. The importance of brand reputation and brand personality
Brand reputation really comes down to how individual consumers have experienced the brand.
A positive or negative experience can fundamentally alter a purchasing decision and it goes even further in that the consumer’s experience of the brand will see them recommending the brand to their peers.
Word-of-mouth marketing via brand reputation has the potential to transform consumer perceptions around a brand.
With the rise of social media over recent years, peer group influence has become a critical factor when it comes to branding. It is therefore essential that you ensure consistent quality and service in the delivery of your product or service.
Generally speaking, consumers also tend to opt for brands that have been around for a while and are tried and tested. Newer brands on the other hand have not yet proved themselves conclusively, and are regarded as higher risk.
From a franchise perspective, the longer a brand has been in existence, the more streamlined its systems are likely to be and most of the bugs or areas requiring improvement have probably been attended to, whilst newer brands have a much longer learning curve to go through.
The longer a brand has been in existence, the more stable it is and the chances of failure are minimised.
How the prospective franchisee relates to the brand personality, brand identity, brand values and brand vision and objectives of the franchisor’s brand is another critical factor that influences consumers’ purchasing decisions.
It is therefore very important to understand your target market and what your customers value and how they perceive your brand personality. This will assist you in finding a niche proposition that differentiates your brand.
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2. Branding pitfalls to avoid
Many new and inexperienced franchise owners often question franchise branding initiatives out of ignorance and do not follow the franchise guidelines when it comes to marketing and branding. In my experience, this can be detrimental.
It is therefore essential that franchisees follow marketing guidelines and utilise the brand-strength elements in all their public relations, emails, social media, advertising and client correspondence.
Business owners need to ensure that their brand is well and consistently displayed on all posters, signage, flyers, special offers, email correspondence, social media, staff clothing, packaging and advertising.
Other cost-effective brand awareness initiatives franchisees could consider include participating in sponsorships, PR breakfasts, dinners, lunches, cocktail parties, exhibitions and expos.
Here again franchisees need to ensure that the brand is well and consistently displayed.
However, just as important is being a positive, enthusiastic and passionate franchisee who actively seeks opportunities to promote the brand. In other words as a franchisee you need to ensure you live the life of a loyal brand ambassador.
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So when weighing up what franchise brand to invest in, remember that while the best brands normally cost more than others, in most cases they can command a higher resale selling price at a later stage.
However, here potential franchisees will also need to keep in mind that the joining fees, royalties and marketing can often be higher than other, lesser-known brands with the value-added benefits not always evident.
So, in other words, you will need to do your research and carefully weigh-up what best suits your individual business goals and pocket.