There’s no shortage of factors at play when it comes to selecting the right franchise. From diving into a brand’s culture to evaluating its potential customers and how you can reach them, there are a lot of things that have the potential to determine whether or not a specific brand will work for you in your local community. But throughout the entire due diligence process, there’s one factor with an influence that’s especially strong: name recognition.
A brand’s name recognition is one of the first things that prospective franchisees are faced with when selecting a concept to invest in. The fact that a brand is on their radar proves that it already has a visible presence in the industry—otherwise, it likely wouldn’t be making many shortlists. But how a brand is perceived by its audience plays a much bigger role than that initial level of familiarity. It ultimately has the power to show how a candidate will be able to engage with their potential customers.
According to Steve Beagelman, president and CEO of SMB Franchise Advisors, it’s the necessity of strong brand awareness and name recognition that drives businesses to franchise in the first place.
“Concepts that become franchise chains are able to achieve a heightened level of brand recognition at a much faster rate,” said Beagelman. “Franchises have the ability to build on the momentum that comes with expansion, and appear on billboards, radio shows and TV. That exposure is ultimately what drives a brand forward.”
But in order to continue moving forward, brands need to ensure that candidates are aware of all the benefits that their name recognition has to offer. For starters, strong name recognition means that a concept has already established a solid foundation among consumers. At the end of the day, people prefer to engage brands that they trust. And that begins—and ends—with how they connect with a brand on a personal level.
That’s why prospective franchisees should thoroughly research the relationships that brands have with their customers before signing on the dotted line. The way in which a business is able to tailor its marketing efforts to reach its core audience is critical to uncover when selecting a franchise because eventually, that overarching marketing method is one of a franchisee’s top resources once they’re up and running.
For brands like Dairy Queen, that approach to marketing focuses on creating one-on-one relationships with consumers.
“Brands are able to make their marketing efforts more efficient when there’s a one-to-one relationship instead of the old school method of simply targeting 18 to 29-year-olds with a single TV spot,” said Barry Westrum, the Dairy Queen system’s executive vice president of marketing. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for traditional advertising—the medium is just different. Consumers are spending more than 10 hours on their smartphones every day, and they’re watching videos. So the future of restaurant franchise marketing definitely allows for traditional advertising, as long as there’s an individual connection involved too.”
MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes is another franchise concept that takes a proactive approach to controlling its messaging in an effort to shape its brand awareness. For their team, it’s all about ensuring that what people are learning about them across the board tells one consistent story. According to vice president Natalie Anderson Liu, it’s that consistency that leads to trust.
“Consistency in your brand story and brand promise is paramount. That’s ultimately what makes your brand consistent, which then creates a strong relationship and loyalty with customers. Every story that you’re telling needs to be part of one cohesive and larger picture,” said Anderson Liu.
After aspiring franchisees are able to uncover what a brand’s name recognition truly means to consumers, it’s up to them to determine whether or not they’re the right fit to continue—and improve upon—that legacy.