Maintaining Your Brand While Franchising IT

Meetali Kutty, AGM- Sales & Marketing Head, Azure HospitalityAZURE hospitality is an initiative aimed at creating business within the food & beverage and accommodation sectors, founded in March of 2009. Each business has a distinct mix of cutting edge, intrinsic quality, international appeal and is value for money driven. AZURE hospitality look at them not as business as a collection of individuals characters, each with its own personality that sets it apart amongst competition.

Hospitality, as an industry in India, has experienced a tremendous boom in the last decade. With multiple foreign brands coming into the market, and a plethora of home-grown entities coming into being, customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to what they want to do when they go out. However, with the proliferation of this eating out culture, expectations and the drive to increase business has led to expansion and franchise plans aplenty.

But with great franchising comes great responsibility, and brands must deal with the pressure of performing successfully in hitherto unexplored locales, as well as maintaining their brand standards when they may not necessarily be in the driver's seat. So how does one preserve their marketing standards in today's day and age?

Firstly, it is important when creating a brand to define what it stands for. Who are you catering to? You cannot cater to everyone so narrowing down and focusing on who your audience is, is key. Are families your target? Millennials? Defining who you cater to plays a massive role in the tonality you use while communicating with them, with the creatives you make to attract them, and with what your brand stands for as a whole. The great thing about some of the most impactful brands has been that they know what they stand for, be it a McDonald's, Starbucks or, closer to home, a Mamagoto.

Secondly, establishing brand symbols like logos, templates, and formats for communication is also key. If your brand plays with just three colors (like red, white and green)- be consistent. Ensure you have all your brand decks in place and your keywords illuminated so that whoever you franchise to can use these as a bible.
That being said, localized communication is supremely crucial. Whenever your franchise to someone in a new city or location ensures you do your due diligence of researching the market, the crowd profile and the trending topics of that locality. Do people in this new city prefer to listen to the radio or read newspapers? Do they follow local taste makers or are there no such reservations? All of this will help you and your franchise partner in curating the perfect launch plan, as well as ensuring sustainable coverage post-launch.

Once you establish the region and the branding opportunities, as well as contact your franchise partner with all the required information, you have all the ingredients needed for a successful launch event. This is when the tricky part comes in: figuring out the amount of help to be given to that franchise outlet and determining how hands-on/off to be.

For many manufacturing and quality personnel, the road to enjoying the fruits of assured quality products will be through a tough role of first

Depending on the resources at hand with your franchise, you can determine how much involvement is needed from your end. Personally, I feel it is good to have a more hands-on approach, however, ensure the franchise partner is compensating your team adequately for the same. However, it is of use to you to not go into this partnership with too many expectations. Allow for some trial and error, and some freedom as sometimes local resources can gauge their market better than you, sitting at another corner of the country!

A few key points to keep in mind at this juncture, beyond brand logos/colors/ symbols, are also brand content guidelines. What is the usual schedule of posts? Are you a brand that thrives on daily activity or do you only post when you have something impactful to say? What are some of the words you would never use and what are some that are part of your lingo? How do you measure your results not only via on-ground marketing campaigns but online as well? Is it organic following or reach or engagement? Once these parameters are set it becomes easier to keep an eye on what your franchise resources are doing.

Coming to the curation of campaigns, both on the ground and digital, it is important to keep two major things in mind: your plans for the brand at large, and the needs of the outlet. For instance, let's say you are running a countrywide campaign featuring local produce on a menu. For the same, you would have to brief the franchise partner as well as provide all the creative contents-be it the menu design, digital look and feel and collaterals. The second type of campaign is more important as it involves hearing the struggles and what is working in that franchise outlet and crafting a menu or promotion or curating an event to drive footfall and engage the local populace. For this, it is important to listen to your franchise partner, keep track of the local culture and improvise as needed for the best results.

These are just some of the basic tips to keep in mind when evolving your brand for franchises and to preserve your marketing integrity. When marketing it is important to keep an open mind and to know how to compromise on smaller issues for bigger results, as with anything else know how to pick your battles and that will be the difference between success and failure.