The importance of a strong franchise brand, by Sue Moore, president and managing director of Bright & Beautiful
The business of being a brand has come a long way in recent years.
Not so long ago, most of us would have said that a brand and the relevance of a brand related primarily to that brand’s name, logo, strapline and marketing strategies. A strong brand was something we might have considered recognisable from a consumer perspective. So we might refer to a brand name unknowingly, rather than a generic term that describes the product.
Today, things have moved on and a brand has come to mean something far more three dimensional, real and authentic; the sum of a company’s parts rather than just the bits it wants you to see.
Belonging to a brand
At its most basic level, a great brand can increase the value of a company, but when it’s tied into a set of values and clear brand promises it also provides employees and customers with an innate sense of belonging and direction.
A strong brand needs to refl ect the personality and promises made by a company and with that comes a credible and genuine message that consumers can appreciate and which, in the right hands, can create customer loyalty.
Social media channels, consumer forums and review websites, for good or ill, are all shaping or shaming brands and now yield a power no marketing strategist could have predicted.
Defining your ethos
The brand is generally the fi rst point of contact for customers, so it’s essential you spend time considering your brand, not just in terms of name, but in terms of what it stands for.
Our Bright & Beautiful business was founded on values and on a vision that included empowering our professional housekeepers, ethical employment and career opportunities for cleaners employed by our franchise owners.
Operationally and philosophically, we have stayed true to our values and because they rang so true with us they continue to do so with our franchisees and clients.
With consumer consciousness at an all time high, it’s critical you are clear about your brand identity, vision and values and that this translates into your marketing collateral in a way that resonates with potential customers.
Once established, a brand represents the all important perception of your company and covers customer service, reputation, advertising, marketing and even the personal behaviour of the owners.
Perception in business is everything, so if that perception wavers it’s at that point that brand damage can occur. Your stakeholder’s perception matters hugely and aff ects customer engagement, longevity and your bottom line.
Many companies don’t bother to create a formal set of brand values, but they’re absolutely fundamental. What your brand means and aspires to be should inform all aspects of the way you conduct yourself in business - from training processes to advertising and new business.
One of the most basic brand tools is a visual image; a logo, corporate colours and accompanying words are all a representation of a brand’s attributes and core values. The imagery and marketing material need to reflect a brand’s personality and promises.
The Bright & Beautiful vibrant pink and ‘swoosh’, for example, reflects our code of values and vision and communicates bright, positive and dynamic messaging.
People want to be part of a successful brand, which can range from the camaraderie that comes from good work processes to taking pride in wearing a well designed uniform. We have had numerous comments from our clients too about how they love that our teams arrive at their homes looking smart and professional.
Put your brand at the heart of everything you do
The values of your brand should be at the heart of everything you do and everyone in your business should be involved and engaged with them; our housekeepers all carry cards with them outlining our core brand values.
By involving all your team in the brand ethos - consulting with them about how it’s built and refined, sharing brand evolutions and new directions and giving them materials to communicate it - you can ensure the brand value is protected and your messages and behaviours are consistent with your values and promises. This will add value to your business in terms of longevity, loyalty and satisfaction.
Strong brand appeal
We have found that customers and franchisees alike are attracted by our distinctive brand appeal, vision and values, all of which help us to attract like-minded people we know will do well in our business.
Having a strong brand offers stability and security and sets out the stall early in potential franchisees’ minds of what would be expected of them and what they can expect from the franchisor.
For new franchisees wishing to join our business, we make it clear from the outset that we are placing our trust in them when using our brand and it’s important that every franchisee can provide an experience for the customer that reflects our brand promise throughout their journey. This builds satisfaction, customer loyalty and often word of mouth recommendation.
Anyone thinking about investing in a franchise should recognise that a good brand requires carefully crafted and curated investment in order to build and maintain market presence and status.
When they’re comfortable and confident that the brand vision and values of their potential new business align to their own personal ones, there is huge potential to create a strong partnership and an even stronger future for you both.
Ultimately, the brand is in the hands of all the people who work with you, so it’s essential they understand, support and deliver on your brand vision and values.