A guide to building brand awareness for your franchise

16/07/2018 08:00 | Start a business

A guide to building brand awareness for your franchise


If you're looking to build brand awareness, there are a few different things you need to be doing. Here, we look at how you can develop your franchise identity, raise awareness of your brand, and refine and improve upon its image.

1. What do you want to be associated with?

The first step in building your brand is to decide upon the key features, ideas, and images you want to associate your business with. Creating a successful brand image involves creating a corporate identity that suggests specific ideas to the public. To do so, businesses need to know what ideas they want to communicate.

What makes your franchise different from the competition? What are its essential characteristics? What aspects of your services or products do you want to emphasise? If you have answers to these questions, you can move on to the next set. What do you want customers to think when they see your logo or name? What is your key selling point? How are you going to convey these abstract ideas in a communicable manner?

Establishing what your brand associations will be is often tricky. It's important to try and strike a balance between being meaninglessly abstract and being too specific. In many cases, it will be worth investing in a collaboration with marketing specialists. However, if the funds arent available for such a purpose, its worth investing your own time and resources to ensure your building your brand on firm foundations.

2. Build the brand around these associations

Once youve established what you want to be associated with, its time to begin thinking about how you build an identity around these ideas. At this stage, its important to remember that everything you do needs to act in a way that complements or contributes to the brand image that youre trying to build. This means that every interaction with a customer attempts to communicate your values. From your logo, through to your social media posts, every aspect of your public presence must be considered, coherent, and designed to enhance your reputation.

To do this, you need to instil those qualities you wish to be associated with at the heart of your business. A specific tone of voice needs to be developed for customer interactions, all marketing materials should include your logo, and a consistent message needs to be communicated in all mediums.

3. Be consistent

Consistency of message is one of the most critical aspects of effective brand building. For most franchise brands, this consistency is important for two reasons. First, businesses now have access to a wide range of communication channels. Digitally, companies must consider all the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. and then also think about more traditional advertising mediums, such as television and print. Finally, you must ensure that your physical presence (i.e. your store or business premises) also complements your brand image. Operating in these different channels can be challenging, as its not easy to maintain consistency of tone and message across all of them.

The second reason brand consistency is vital to most profitable franchises is because large franchise networks are composed of many smaller units, which are much more effective when working co-operatively. If all the individual franchise units take it upon themselves to set their own marketing agenda and pull in different directions, the overall brand is watered down and weakened. Consistency across the network is important because it strengthens the marketing message, ensures the same message reaches a larger audience and strengthens the associations the public make with your brand.

4. Express your identity on social media

Whereas in the past businesses would have to pay considerable amounts to advertise to a large audience and develop their brand identity, social media has ensured that this is no longer the case. The biggest franchises reach millions of people with a single social media post, allowing them to build, refine and develop their brand with a carefully considered (and free!) string of tweets, posts, or pictures. Access is no longer restricted to those with enormous marketing budgets, and even the smallest startups can develop a reasonably sized audience in a very short period.

This means that social media is the perfect place to begin building your brand and exercising your new voice. Its also an important medium because it allows for a two-way conversation. The public will often reply to your posts, bringing them closer to the brand and giving you the opportunity to express your brands identity in a more personal and human way.

5. Refine and improve

Finally, its important to remember that you wont get everything right straight away. Its tough striking the right tone of voice and ensuring that your message is communicated in the most effective way. Realistically, you're going to have to refine and improve your brand identity, as well as the methods by which you communicate it, over an extended period. This is a natural process, and franchises should use all the feedback they can get their hands on to facilitate the process. Take note of social media responses, ask questions of your customers, and try and establish what works and what doesnt. Over time, your brand identity will evolve and adapt to new economic and cultural realities, but if you want to stay ahead of the curve, youll need to be listing to your target markets.

Conclusion

Developing a coherent and compelling brand identity is a complex challenge. There are entire companies dedicated to doing just that, so it's important to remember that you can ask for help if necessary. However, if you follow the five points listed above, you should be able to begin working on building a new brand identity, without the help of marketing professionals. Make sure you utilise all the in-house skills at your disposal and that everyone working on the project understands your end goal.

 

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