Franchise Branding…Much Ado About Next to Nothing

I hear franchisors, with persistent prodding from turf-scrappy marketing folks, extolling the benefits of branding as the primary reason for the success of a franchise system. It’s a MYTH. If you abide by their proposition, you are doomed to failure. Marketers will point to iconic brands like Coca Cola, any number of Procter & Gamble products and McDonald’s as proof positive that branding is paramount. No. What drove these brands were not catchy names, smart logos and graphics, and award-winning imagery, though helpful, of course, it was the bare-knuckled, persistent focus on distribution.

Before a Coke TV commercial made you cry or smile, the Coca Cola Company created a network of aggressive, shrewd, well-connected bottlers to capture retail space and dominate fountain drinks. Procter & Gamble invested more money, time and effort in couponing, sampling and shelving fees than on branding. And McDonald’s aggressively opened stores well ahead of a consistent image in the marketplace. In fact, they’re still opening 800+ units worldwide every year even with a sorry branding program.

For all those companies and brands, the lesson is you grow through distribution. Franchising is distribution at its core. In the best way, too: with someone else’s money. So put branding in its place. Attend to franchising first and always and you will win. Franchise development is the cornerstone of building a successful franchise system.

That’s why I’m crafting a companion booklet to my Tannerisms for franchise prospects titled Tannerisms for Franchisors. It’s franchise coaching for franchisors. Yes, I draw on my 40+ years of experience and insights as a franchisee, franchisor and franchise development manager to give you ideas, concrete examples, and a roadmap for your future. In fact, Tannerisms for Franchisors is going to upend conventional wisdom—absolutely turn what you thought or what some MBA graduate told you was important on its head. Not because I want you to think differently—because I do—but because doing today what you did yesterday will not work tomorrow.

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