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How to Guard Your Franchise Concept Against Copycats

Even if you develop a one-of-a-kind concept, eventually copycats will try to steal your thunder – and your customers. To make it harder for them, it’s essential to invest in barriers that guard your market share and your revenues. Here are a few ways, in addition to traditional barriers to entry, to protect your concept:

Make an Impact with Your Brand

Developing strong brand recognition is essential to thwarting copycats. The pace at which your brand becomes a familiar name is crucial, as well. Use all the tools at your disposal, including public relations, advertising, and social media.

A PR firm can get media exposure for your company – such as magazine articles or a segment on a TV morning show – which you can share on social media platforms for additional exposure. A content marketing team can also help by developing marketing collateral to use on your brand’s website, which you can also share on social media.

The larger your brand’s impact and the quicker it’s recognized, the stronger your brand foundation against the inevitable copycats. If your brand cements itself in consumers’ minds first, copycat brands have less sticking power.

Tell Your Story with Feeling

Female entrepreneur smiling outside a building

Consumers are becoming more discerning. They want to know the origin story behind brands and each founder’s backstory before becoming loyal customers. This is true especially among millennials, the generation with the most spending power.

Make sure you get your story out there. Do not skip the emotional moments or gloss over the struggle to get your brand up and running. Consumers want to be emotionally engaged with brands, which is key to developing loyalty. Their loyalty to your brand makes it harder for copycats to earn it. Being transparent and honest with your consumers in telling your story is critical to connect in a meaningful way.

Get More Legal Protection

Lawsuits are a hassle, so having the right legal protections in place is a deterrent to copycats. Make sure you patent your processes, machines or designs – provided you invented them. Don’t stop there, though.

Apply for a trademark for your brand name, tagline, and design. This prevents copycats from claiming them since trademarks serve as time stamps.

You can also use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to protect your company’s concept and ideas. In addition to having employees and vendors sign NDAs, you can ask anyone with whom you share your brand’s information to sign one. If you sue someone for stealing your concept or ideas, you must prove you took steps to protect them. Signed NDAs help your case in court.

Partner Up

Develop strategic partnerships with key companies in your industry – especially vendors or suppliers. Partnerships drive brand awareness and keep copycats from securing partnerships of their own with those companies.

Winmark Franchise Partners

Winmark Franchise Partners can help you protect your franchise concept from copycats. With 30 years of franchise 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 franchise advice. For more information, contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.