The Brand Consistency Problem: Policing vs. Promoting

The Brand Consistency Problem:  Policing vs. Promoting

   

Once upon a time, Pete could do it all.  The year was 2002 and he had just launched Pete’s Bar & Grill in downtown Atlanta. With only 8 employees under his wing, there wasn’t much he didn’t see or do.  Who handled marketing?  That was Pete.  Accounting?  Pete did that too. Design?  Pete was no designer himself, but he oversaw design as well.

 

In Pete’s mind, he had set himself up for success. He knew his food was really good, that his branding was on-point, and that no one would be able to pass up Tuesday night “Karaoke & Kabobs”.  Pete’s Bar & Grill was his pride and joy, and so long as he was in charge, not one thing was going to mess it up.

 

But that was back in 2002 – the good ol’ days when Pete could do it all.  Fast forward 15 years to the present. Instead of managing 8 employees at a single location, Pete now managed a small kingdom of 30 franchised locations.  From the outside, it would appear that Pete was living the franchise-owner’s dream.  In reality, Pete had a big problem.

‘Close Enough’ Is Good Enough

 

When Pete’s Bar & Grill first expanded into the hands of franchisees, everyone was gung ho and had no problem adhering to brand standards and design guidelines. They understood how important it was for the brand to look consistent across every marketing medium so that customers would know without a doubt that they were at the one and only Pete’s Bar & Grill.

 

But as the success of the brand grew, so did the pressure.  In the hustle and bustle of feeding hungry customers, keeping the bars clean, placing orders, managing inventory, and keeping up with food safety regulations, spending time and energy on the ‘proper’ use of logos and colors seemed less important – especially since sales were going so well at all of their locations.

 

Rachel, Pete’s corporate designer of six years, began to notice the company’s branding was slipping.  Franchisees were just too busy to dot the ‘I’ of every font choice or cross the ‘t’ of every color option and began throwing together hodge-podge variations of Pete’s Bar & Grill branding just so they could get some semblance of marketing in front of customers.  Rachel tried pushing brand regulations with the franchisees, but the more she persisted, the less his franchisees seemed to care. You could cut the tension with a knife.

Good vs. Great

Now, Pete was a smart man. He’d done the research and knew that the difference between a good brand and a great brand was consistency.  After all, consistency is the cornerstone of franchising and was one of the key reasons that Pete decided to franchise in the first place.  Consistent food, consistent service, a consistent experience, and a consistent ‘look’ is exactly why he chose the franchise model.  Clearly the franchisees were delivering consistent food, service, and a consistent customer experience.  But how could he achieve branding consistency without either policing his franchisees or bogging down his creative team?  That seemed to be the question of the day.

 

Desperate for a solution, Rachel began to do some research.  She jumped on Youtube and did a search for brand consistency and found a quick two-minute video by Lucidpress that was exactly on point with the growing pains that were happening at Pete’s Bar & Grill.  Rachel couldn’t wait to share her huge find with Pete!  

 

“Hey Pete… ever heard of Lucidpress?” Rachel greeted him at the office the next morning with a surprisingly hopeful disposition. They sat down and took a look together.

The Evolution of Brand Management

“Wow, Rachel, you are a genius – this is fantastic!”  Pete couldn’t have designed a better solution himself He discovered that Lucidpress is a cloud-based brand management tool that:

  • Streamlines marketing by allowing any franchisee to customize marketing collateral on their own without waiting on the help of a designer.
  • Protects franchisees from going off-brand with custom, lockable templates — that way “close enough” variations are never a possibility
  • Reduces the custom collateral request turnaround process from weeks to minutes.
  • Provides publishing and printing services, delivered right to everyone’s door.

 

So they gave Lucidpress a try.  Rachel began designing flyer, menu, and business card templates based on Pete’s Bar & Grill brand guidelines.  From there, she locked down the logo, colors, and other branded elements that should never be altered, and then she shared the templates with Pete’s franchisees.  The franchisees loved it and immediately began dropping in the local details for their individual locations.  After all, that was much easier and less time-consuming than the hodge-podge creations they had been doing on their own – and Rachel was now a valued part of Pete’s franchisor support team instead of the adversarial ‘branding police’.  Franchisees were excited to send their finished projects to the printer, to publish them online, and to post them to social media.

Light at The End of The Tunnel

Pete wasn’t fully aware of how well the new solution was working until two months later when he stepped inside the building of his most frequent brand offender.  When he couldn’t tell the difference between his franchisee’s designs and Rachel’s, he knew he had finally struck brand-building gold.

Pete recognized that he — like a lot of other franchisors — had been unintentionally wasting precious time and resources policing brand standards instead of promoting them.  What a relief it was to know that now he could encourage everyone to get back to doing what they do best…build their businesses! 

 

This article was contributed to the National Franchise Institute by Nick Hatch with Lucidpress  (385) 557-5117

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