7 Steps to Successful Franchise Brand Audits


In franchising, the most valuable asset you have is your brand. Brand consistency leads to satisfied customers and loyalty that can spread across the country and even internationally. Field audits that check local franchisees for brand compliance are a key way for franchisors to keep their brand aligned across a distributed network. Here are 7 steps to ensure your brand compliance program is successful:

  1. Set Up Franchisees for Success at the Start
    Before you start a brand audit program, do a gut check. Do franchisees have the proper branding guidance from corporate that they need? Headquarters should provide a brand style guide that has the do’s and don’ts of representing the brand. Policies and procedures should also be in place with regular training on brand standards.
  2. Assess the Big Picture and the Little Details
    A brand audit should provide a comprehensive review of the franchise appearance and communication channels. This includes:
    1. Visuals/Signage and environmental graphics
    2. Brand color usage and accuracy
    3. Printed collateral
    4. Promotions/Coupons
    5. Menus with pricing info
  3. Visit Local Stores Regularly
    If your franchise offers seasonal programs and promotions, ideally you should be field auditing on site whenever the promotion changes, whether that is semi-annually or quarterly. In-store signage, special displays, seasonal pricing and labels all need to be checked.
  4. Review the Digital Footprint Along with the Physical
    Don’t forget about the virtual representation of every local franchise. This review can be completed before an on-site visit, but you should bring along a brand review of digital assets for each franchise including their website, social media handles, and local directory listings with opportunities for improvement.
  5. Provide Action Plans for Those Who Miss the Mark
    If a franchisee is not representing the brand right, make sure you help them understand the value of course correction to their bottom line. Give them clear steps to take to remedy the misalignment, along with consequences if they are not followed.
  6. Collect Feedback and Ideas
    Use this on-site opportunity to collect feedback on the national brand and advertising fund usage. Find out what is working for franchisees and what they feel is not working. Collect and record this feedback at each visit and see if there are any national trends among your stores. If you do or do not take action on this feedback, make sure to communicate back to the franchisee afterwards to close the loop.
  7. Spread Success Stories
    If you have a franchisee that is a huge brand advocate and is knocking it out of the park, find a way to document and share their success. Video can be a great tool to show other franchisees how to do it right. Successful marketing campaigns can be replicated and shared if the network is tapped in to a marketing resource management system.

It’s hard to take money out of the budget and time out of your busy schedule to leave the corporate office and conduct on-site reviews, but your brand is too valuable not to prioritize this kind of quality control activity. It can also go a long way in franchisor-franchisee relations to have a face-to-face on a regular basis beyond the annual meeting.

For more inspiration on brand marketing, I invite you to sign up for our new newsletter: Distributed Marketing Monthly. I plan to share ideas and best practices each month for corporate marketers who need to manage their brands at the national and local levels.

About the author

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Karen M. Wenning

Karen M. Wenning

Karen aspired to be a cowgirl or a farmer, but after graduating from UW Madison she found herself crafting prose for luxury brands at an advertising agency. There, she developed a passion for working with graphic designers and marketing professionals, creating brand-right marketing across their networks. As a former client of Suttle-Straus, Karen joined the team in 2008 serving in marketing and sales. She considers herself an accidental salesperson, on a mission to increase her clients’ traffic and sales. At home, Karen can be found challenging her husband and three children to a downhill ski or swim race, growing organic produce while fending off garter snakes, or herding her small flock of chickens.
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Topics: Franchise Marketing, Brand Management