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Franchise Branding is a Team Sport

My franchise business experience dates back to the late 80’s when I became involved with Gold’s Gym as a licensee. I realized then how important a brand name is and how important brand uniformity is as well.

Yesterday we held our weekly online Orientation Day for HOTWORX new franchise owners and the topic of marketing came up during my presentation. This topic led me into a discussion about our target customer audience and the importance of fitness studio culture and brand identity.

I think we would all agree that the identity of a brand, or of an individual for that matter, is extremely important to the health and well-being of both. When a brand or a human loses their sense of self, then as the saying goes, “Houston, we have a problem!” In franchising, it takes a commitment to uniformity by all franchise locations working together as a team to preserve and to promote a branding ID. 

There is nothing more detrimental to a brand than a loss of identity. In marketing we call this an identity crisis. Many brands that once dominated their industries have died a slow death due to the loss of brand identity. JC Penney and Sears come to mind. Brands that allow for inconsistent messaging will eventually lose the power of their brand if they don’t correct the problem through a return to marketing discipline. The loss of brand identity can happen without notice over time like a slow growing tumor that eventually needs to be extracted. Hopefully it can be removed before it’s too late for a business. The best solution, though, is through prevention from it ever happening. This is accomplished through brand consistency.

“When a business devotes itself to delivering the same experience from one touchpoint to the next, customers begin to feel familiar with that brand.Trust and understanding develop, and you end up with a relationship that promotes loyalty, advocacy, and bigger profits too! In fact, consistent brands are up to 4 times more likely to boost their visibility on any platform.” (1)

The key is to create a strong identity in the beginning, and stay true to it! Company messaging must remain true to the brand vision, true to its purpose and remain connected to a brand promise. As franchise owners, we owe consistency to our customers! The corporate “voice” must remain the same across the entire organization.

Here is an excerpt from my book where I describe the importance of teamwork as a franchise brand:

In the late ’80’s and early ’90’s I was a licensee of three Gold’s Gym locations. At that time, Gold’s was “licensing” out their brand name rather than full on franchising of a system of operations. I really enjoyed being an owner of Gold’s Gym locations, and still love to take trips out to the original Gold’s known as the Mecca of Bodybuilding in Venice, CA. I always say that if you can’t get motivated in that gym, then you just can’t be motivated.
I still love that brand, but a business cannot stand on its name alone. One of the reasons that I moved on from ownership of Gold’s Gym was due to their lack of system standards at that time and the lack of uniformity amongst their licensees. The brand is of utmost importance, but the biggest advantage of franchise ownership is access to a proven operating system. A great system can catapult the brand to stratospheric levels.
After three decades of franchising, I can tell you that a franchise system MUST be viewed as a team. Teamwork is the only way that a franchise can thrive and succeed in the marketplace. (2)

General Patton said “an army is a team.” A franchise is a team too!

The company operations and the company marketing MUST send out the same consistent and uniform messaging in order to remain true to the organizational ID. If this is not done in a repetitious manner, then the power of the brand will begin to erode.

That said, I am reminded of this Tony Robbins quote: “Repetition is the mother of skill” Yes, developing a brand identity is a SKILL that takes practice to master and a franchise organization must practice together as a team to grow and to maintain a powerful brand!

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(2) Smith, Stephen P. (2020), HOT EXERCISE, HOTWORX and the Bold New Infrared Fitness Frontier. HOTWORX

Stephen P. Smith, MA
CEO and Creator of HOTWORX, Author, Former National Collegiate Bodybuilding Champion and Arena Football Player, Certified Professional Trainer