How to successfully rebrand your franchise

How to successfully rebrand your franchise

Corporate identities tend to change once every seven to 10 years. Think it’s time for a refresh?

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A rebrand, whether small or large, is not simple – there are many complex intricacies involved in the process – especially for franchise businesses. My personal experience with rebranding Delta Disaster Services to Delta Restoration Services (Delta) taught me a lot about having a clear reason for a rebrand and announcing the news to stakeholders as well as the public.

When to consider a rebrand
One reason a company attempts to reinvent itself is when there is a need to differentiate from the competition. In order to better distinguish your business, you may consider anything from developing a new tag line or using bolder words and colors in your marketing materials, to targeting a new demographic or even looking at international expansion. Businesses commonly take the route of a rebrand when they have changed or introduced new products or services, their image is simply outdated, or they have outgrown their mission.

We’ve seen this recently with brands like Dunkin’ and even Jamba Juice, which recently announced the company is dropping the “juice” and becoming Jamba. In Delta’s case, I wanted to align the brand more with our mission, which is to help people deal with and recover from a traumatic event in their lives, whether it’s a refrigerator line leak, small kitchen fire, major electrical fire, or flooded basement. We restore people’s property and their lives to what they previously had, and our new name, Delta Restoration Services, reflects that change – with greater emphasis on the “restoration”, rather than the “disaster.”

Informing your stakeholders
Once you’ve decided that your company needs a rebrand, it’s important to inform your stakeholders. This stage can get tricky, especially with franchises. You’ll need to be ready to answer questions from franchisees like, “why now?” and, “will this improve my business?”

If you’re just starting this process, consulting with your franchisees during the preliminary research process can be extremely helpful in understanding how a rebrand may affect them, and in turn, affect the business as a whole. It’s best to share your recommendation, rationale, roll-out and support plan with franchisees and gain their input on the concept and how to ensure that it’s successful. During this process, it’s critical to explain to your franchisees why you’re rebranding, as well as what will be changing and when – especially if it affects them directly. It can be helpful to supply them with a timeline for any changes that may occur with the company culture, training and support and the costs associated with new marketing materials and signage. Partners and vendors are also important stakeholders in your business, and they should be informed about a rebrand before the general public. It can be helpful to seek input from partners and understand how changes may affect them, but it’s also good practice to tell them about the rebranding after a timeline and plan is put together.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of defining the purpose of your rebrand as well as choosing the right time to change”

After you’ve told your franchisees and vendors about your plans for a rebrand, you need to inform your clients and customers through an email, social media or blog post, or advertising – ideally a mix of several vehicles. Customers may want to know how rebranding will affect them; whether through an introduction of a new product or service, or a change in prices, it’s important to keep your customers informed in order to maintain loyalty and credibility. Bottom line: the rebrand should be presented as strategic and well thought out to ensure your franchisees, partners and clients believe in the process and trust the company to implement it well.

Announcing your rebrand to the public
Your stakeholders are aware of the rebrand and the process is well underway. Now, you need to roll out your new brand externally. That means updating your online entities, such as your social media accounts and website, and your internal documents, like your FDD and franchise information report. Franchises may have a difficult time with this aspect due to the sheer amount of marketing materials in different locations that will need to be changed. Any signage, vehicles, uniforms or brochures. Each franchise location will need to display any updates or changes to the name, logo, trademarks, graphics, copy, colors and fonts that the corporate office decides. Whatever the elements of the rebrand, materials need to be changed system-wide in order to maintain consistency.

To ensure consistency, you should have a deadline for when marketing collateral and signage should be changed. However, it’s important to give franchisees ample time to do so. Changes should not be sprung on franchisees – or the public – if you want to maintain trust.

Getting the word out to the public requires more than a change in marketing materials – it requires an announcement. Putting a press release together and pitching it to local or national media can be an effective way to get the word out about your rebrand.

The bottom line
The media, franchisees, partners, and clients will all be interested in the reason(s) behind a rebrand, and you will find yourself explaining that often. I can’t stress enough the importance of defining the purpose of your rebrand as well as choosing the right time to change. If you’re considering a rebrand, make sure to bring stakeholders into the fold early and keep them informed as part of the process, as well as address any concerns or questions promptly, since their support plays a major role in a successful rebrand. Finally, update internal and external materials and announce your rebrand to the public.

The last critical step in a rebrand? Follow through with the promises of your new brand, stay committed to your new image, and ensure that your brand guidelines are consistently met and followed.

THE AUTHOR
Mike Mastous is the president and founder of Delta Restoration Services

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