Franchisees going off-script with corporate branding guidelines can make your entire brand vulnerable. Your franchise is built off of customer expectations. It is brand recognition, and the trust that these expectations will be met, that make new franchisees successful. When individual location go rogue, it puts the reputation of your entire brand at stake and leads to distrust due to inconsistent experiences. This translates into a loss of sales (or worse, the demise of your brand). But why do they go off-script, and what can you do about it?

Why Do Franchisees Ignore Corporate Branding Guidelines?

The first step to correcting franchisees who go rogue, and preventing it from happening in the future, is to understand why it happened in the first place.

Inability to Customize Assets

Stock-standard assets are great for providing continuity throughout the franchise, but if they are too rigid, it may create a problem. Many franchises will need to make small changes, such as hours of operations. Another example is the need to replace images that may not be suitable for the geographic location. For example, a clothing franchise located in Florida would need to replace an image that features a ski jacket with a warmer weather alternative.

Not having the ability to make minor adjustments will lead to the franchise attempting to replace the asset. This most often results in the replacement being of a lower quality than the original asset.

A High Level of Success

Corporate brands want to see their franchisees be successful and thrive. However, it can lead to an inflated sense of security that makes them go rogue. For instance, a franchisee may think that since they are successful, corporate branding guidelines can be ignored. On the other hand, rogue locations may be so successful because they are not following marketing guidelines to begin with. Both are serious issues that franchisors need to nip in the bud immediately.

In the short term, it may seem that disobeying branding guidelines is lucrative, but in the long run, it can cause a gradual decline in sales and, ultimately, the failure of the location.

An Attempt to Save a Failing Franchise

A struggling franchisee is a desperate franchisee, and one willing to take risks in order to save the business. This means a violation of guidelines, including marketing materials and even price cuts, which can be detrimental to the franchise as a whole.

How Can Franchisors Handle a Breach in Branding Guidelines?

There are different ways you can handle a location that has gone rogue. These include terminating the franchisee agreement due to the violation, lawsuits, or working with the franchisee to correct the issues.

If possible, the latter tends to be the best for both corporate and the franchisee. First, find out why it happened. This will tell you which direction you need to go in to correct the issue. Here are tips for handling a breach in guidelines:

  • Ensure the franchisee has the tools needed to comply with corporate branding while still effectively serving their market (e.g. customizations in assets).
  • Set up routine location visits to ensure that the rogue franchisee is abiding by all guidelines.
  • Send in a support team for additional training to help the franchisee with problem areas.
  • Keep franchise branding consistent across the board.

The Ultimate Solution to Ensure Franchise Owners Keep Consistent Branding

Consistent branding is especially critical when your brand has multiple locations. Marketing assets should be a reflection of who your company is today. In order to achieve this high level of consistency and keep franchisees in line, you need marketing asset management through a web-to-print-portal that allows:

  • Dynamic content customization - Allows certain elements of branding assets to be tailored to fit the needs of specific locations (e.g. hours of operation).
  • Centralize Assets - Even the largest brands have made tweaks to their brand's logos, colors, slogans, etc. over the years. Whether your brand makes a minor change or major overhaul, it is important to discard old content and keep the new content in one centralized location that is easy for all franchise locations to access. 
  • Web-to-Print - A portal that contains all of your brand's marketing assets in one location. Franchisees can have tailored promotional items shipped to their door.
Related: Establish Brand Consistency the Easy Way

The Tools You Need to Keep Multiple Locations In Line

Ironmark understands that how the world perceives your brand is everything. Our team of dedicated experts offers a comprehensive suite of services including marketing, technology, print production, web design, communications, and logistics. We are ready to strike up a partnership to ensure your brand's assets are easily accessible and ready to use by your franchisees, no matter where they may be in the world. Ready to protect your brand? Let's talk!


Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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