Branding franchises: be careful

An article from the Los Angeles Times triggered this post.

Seems Daily Queen and its owner associations are at odds over the need to remodel and reposition their outlets. I won’t get into all the details, but this quote really got me thinking:

 Branding a franchise must be done carefully

“Dairy Queen’s plans center on two relatively new restaurants lines. DQ Grill & Chill establishments would sell meals and desserts, and would expand to include limited table service, among other things. Outlets that sell only Blizzards, Dilly Bars and desserts would combine with the Orange Julius beverage chain to become a DQ/Orange Julius Treat Center.”

Gad. Where’s the focus!

They appear absolutely schizoid to me.

But what I really wanted to address was the branding of franchises in general. It has its own set of problems and needs.

Without thoughtful planning at every level – strategic, tactical, creative – expenses and logistics could be a nightmare. Specifications and materials for signage, interior décor, furnishing and fixtures need to be developed. And perhaps suppliers and contractors need to be selected with some guarantees of long-term availability.

Devising a signage system alone can be a challenge because of the many restrictions lease holders and local governments may impose. It’s difficult to anticipate them, so you need to be as flexible as possible and offer a variety of solutions.

Also anticipating some change is required. In the Dairy Queen scenario, outlets must install specific equipment, sometimes in spaces not really suitable. So you’d want to have some design latitude in the initial designs, anticipating change but not knowing what that change, and the change after that, might be.

Think, too, when the need finally comes about the expense of re-branding even a modest network of 500 units. Think of the logistics of such an undertaking as well.

There’s another factor to consider as well: the type of franchisee you are going to recruit. How many will have deep enough pockets to carry off a re-branding such as Dairy Queen is proposing? And for that matter, how many appreciate branding? The selection of franchisees should take these things into account from the start.

I have always been an advocate of “branding smart from the start”. This admonition goes triple for franchisors.

Martin Jelsema

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *