The Importance of Having a Brand-Standard Guide
Whenever you enter a mom-and-pop store, you never know what you're going to get. Each business is distinct and unique, which for some people is a great selling point. The issue with this is that while the business might be more personal and down-to-earth, the quality of goods and services could also be entirely lacking. If you live in a small rural area with few choices in businesses, this can be a problem. While there are several arguments to be made in opposition to big corporations opening shop in these areas, one thing that remains true is that the standard of goods and services you receive from these business is nearly constant.
Once businesses begin to franchise for the first time, they are faced with the challenge of keeping their unique experience consistent across all of their locations. A substantial part of the appeal of these businesses is that you can go anywhere in the country (or even the world) and get the exact same thing every single time. A recent article delved a little bit into the reason why Starbucks and McDonalds have managed to become two of the world's biggest businesses, and one of the main reasons cited is that the experience associated with their brand name stays consistent no matter where you go. Starbucks is renowned for the quality of its customer service, and McDonalds is famous for its fast, cheap, and filling food.
If you want your business to succeed when it opens its first franchises, you'll have to adjust to the idea that your brand name and logo now mean something. These following tips will help explain the most important reasons for maintaining a brand-standard guide.
1) It serves as your biggest selling point
You can relate to this any time you run across a major franchise in a new area. You don't know if the small independent restaurant across the street is any good, but you absolutely do know what the Subway is going to be like. The very reputation of your business will help drive customers in if they are undecided. By maintaining a brand-standard guide, you will form and retain a core customer base that will stick by you no matter what the business climate is like. As long as you retain the standard that customers have come to expect from you, you can always count on those customers to buy from you.
2) It gives you an identity
No, I'm not just referring to the logo. The guide that you craft for your business will stem from the priorities you have for it. Starbucks and McDonalds have a different set of guidelines for their employees to follow, which has served to define them in the eyes of customers. If you don't set a strong standard for your business to follow, then you won't offer anything unique or special to your customers that will give them a reason to give you their business. There are lots of fast food places, but only one McDonalds. There are plenty of coffee houses, but there's only one Starbucks. In fact, Starbucks doesn't even have its name on its logo anymore - the very image of the siren is enough for customers to know exactly what they're going to get.
3) It serves as quality control
This isn't necessarily a safeguard against a poor franchise; you've almost certainly gone into a location of a large corporation and noticed that it wasn't quite up to standard in some way. What you've also likely noticed is that such incidents are generally outliers...unless the company is greatly struggling (re: Sears, K-Mart). Setting a guide for your company gives it the ability to enforce a minimum standard, as well as a sense of accountability to its managers. That's something that a lot of independent businesses struggle with, and why the quality of their goods and services is so unpredictable. A brand-standard guide ensures that no matter where your business is located, they will maintain the same professional appearance, make the same high-quality products, and attain the same level of cleanliness. If they fail to meet that standard, you can hold them accountable, because the standard of your brand is spelled out for them.
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