A franchise company’s brand is its most valuable asset. A strong brand not only attracts consumers and new franchisees, it deters competitors from gaining market share.
When an entrepreneur enters the market with a smart, unique concept, copycats are quick to follow. A strong brand serves as a barrier to entry by galvanizing consumer trust and awareness around one company and its offerings. By the time similar concepts hit the market, the strong brand has cemented itself as the trusted original.
This blog is part II of our two-part series on barriers to entry for emerging franchisors. To learn how franchisors create barriers through proprietary processes and systems, check out part one of the series.
What Makes a Strong Brand
“Brand” encompasses the characteristics that set a company apart from its competitors. As such, a strong brand has many parts, such as:
All these elements should work together to provide a clear picture of your brand and the value it brings. The keys to this are simplicity and specificity. Zero in on what truly sets your company apart, and distill your value proposition down to its simplest form. Then, find a way to communicate that with each tenet of your brand. Remember, a strong brand does not say many things – it says one thing clearly and repeatedly.
Dig deeper than your product and your logo to consider your brand’s purpose and values. Your purpose explains why your company exists. An inspiring purpose boosts satisfaction at all levels of your system – from customers to franchisees to corporate team members. Your brand’s purpose also serves as a guiding light as you develop and implement your brand strategy.
Category of One
In his book Becoming a Category of One, business writer and speaker Joe Calloway examines how top companies use brand positioning to forge and dominate new markets. For example, Apple pioneered a new category of portable, user-friendly smart devices, and they now dominate the smartphone sector. Starbucks similarly cemented its status as a behemoth brand by reimagining the gourmet coffee experience.
Some marketing experts argue that clearly defining your company’s category is even more important than defining its brand. If your category is innovative or specific enough, your brand becomes synonymous with the category. Once that happens, it’s extremely difficult for competitors to break in.
As you develop a branding strategy, consider ways to further specify your category in response to consumer needs. What value can you deliver better than any other company? Where do your strengths overlap with consumer preferences? By focusing on those areas and eliminating the clutter, you create a stronger brand that’s more difficult for competitors to challenge.
Shortcuts to a Better Brand
Here’s a checklist of some helpful questions to ask yourself as you create a brand strategy. If you have succinct, specific answers to all five of these, chances are, you’re on the right track:
- What value do I offer customers that competitors do not? (This can be logical, emotional or moral value)
- What are my brand’s core values?
- How does my company culture reflect those values?
- Who is my target customer?
- What is my brand’s vision, or goal?
After you establish your answers to these questions, it’s time to fine tune your choices to yield the best results. For help dialing in your brand, turn to Winmark Franchise Partners. With 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing more than 1,200 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help grow your brand through sound strategy and expert franchising advice.
For more information, contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.