July 29, 2015

Ingenious franchise rebranding media campaign features a brand implementation plan with holes

New vs Old signage

I recently saw a commercial highlighting a franchise rebranding effort gone wrong. You have to hand it to Domino’s – it delivered a surprise!

Earlier this year, Domino’s ran a sign change-out commercial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV-Phf6ZtII) using fireworks and dramatic music to announce its name change. The new campaign acknowledges that most stores are still using the old name and signage and promises to covert 1,000 stores in a year. The company even took to social media, asking the general public to take and post pictures of stores with old signs to win prizes. Using advertising and social media to enforce brand compliance is clever.

Converting 1,000 stores shouldn’t take a year. That said, having worked on several franchise rebranding projects, I know resistance from Franchisees is common and delays the process. Typically, Franchisees aren’t happy about the costs they will have to incur for franchise rebranding initiatives. It’s best if the Franchisor sets expectations and works out budget issues with Franchisees during the planning stages of franchise rebranding initiatives.

In the past, I’ve seen Franchisors use franchise rebranding implementation efforts to weed out underperforming Franchisees. In one of our projects, the Franchisor was repositioning its brand to compete in a more upscale market segment. Not all of its Franchisees were willing or able to invest in the transition. The franchise rebranding process was used to create alignment around the Franchisor’s strategy with its more successful Franchisees.

In another engagement, the Franchisor wanted us to create a Franchisee-friendly process. We used a focus group approach to gather feedback from Franchisees that focused on buy-in, quick execution, and cost-effective implementation costs. We started with an assessment and detailed analysis of the brand touchpoints owned by Franchisees. Then we held a franchise rebranding work session with the brand team using scenario planning. We used our ix Engineering tool, populated with data from the assessment, to evaluate different scenarios – brand treatment options on signs, etc. This scenario planning showed them the mix of touchpoints (signs, fleet vehicles, etc.) at different branding price points to develop overall Franchisor/Franchisee costs for each scenario. The Franchisor used the focus group feedback to come up with a franchise rebranding cost that was affordable for Franchisees throughout the system.

Don’t let resistance from Franchisees spoil your franchise rebranding efforts. Proper planning and Franchisee engagement avoids customer confusion and a slow rollout. Otherwise, be prepared for a lot of “before” and very few “after” pictures – delivered fast to social media sites everywhere.