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Branding 2016-11-03

Build your brand before you start franchising

Brand building is a very important stage that comes before starting the franchise operations. Let's see what the eminent franchise brand owners and industry experts say about it...

Build your brand before you start franchising

Brand building is a very important stage that comes before starting the franchise operations. Franchising is a process of replicating the brand name and experience across different geographical locations. It is a system where the brand owner used the money, knowledge and acumen of a local entrepreneur to expand his brand presence. Even the franchise partner piggy backs on the brand image to attract customers to the store in order to drive business. Working with an established brand automatically gives the business a leg up from the non-brand businesses.

Franchise India 2016 saw some of the eminent franchise maestros share their views on effective brand building techniques adopted by the franchise companies. Mahesh Mac Srinivasan, Country Head, BNI India, “Branding includes some major elements that include the entrepreneur’s success story behind building a brand; the present state of the business, the team and the product and the mission and the vision.” “Every successful brand has a story of its own. For Apple, we have Steve Jobs,” he explains. Story-telling forms a very important part of brand building activity. Success stories inspire people to go ahead and take initiative.

The Story behind…

Franchising invites people to be a part of success journey. Hence, story-telling becomes all the more important if a brand is into franchising. In a preceding session, we also heard Dr. A Velumani, PhD, Managing Director, Thyrocare as his speech enthralled each and every soul sitting in the conference hall. It was the story of a village boy who use to queue up in front of the school with a slate in one hand a plate in another and how he made it to the National Stock Exchange today – that kept all the twinkling eyes in the conference room hear him out without batting their eyelids. It would not be surprising if the charismatic orator generated some potential franchise buyers within the room itself.

Ensuring Profitability

Stories of success may draw people close to the brand. Some over enthusiastic investors may instantly sign up as well. However, what makes them into long lasting mutually beneficial business association is depends on visibility, credibility, profitability and purpose of the brand. Shares Sanjay Coutinho, CEO, Baskin Robins, “If a brand has to grow, franchisees have to make money.” Remembering the early days of Baskin Robins in the Indian market, Coutinho shares how the global brand had to remodel the business as per Indian consumption to make its franchisees profitable. As opposed to the large stores in the global market, they compressed the store sizes, created demand in the market and subsidized real estate costs. And after all this, he says with a smile, “85% of our franchisees are profitable.”

Retaining the essence of the brand

Franchising demands localization to a certain extent. However, it is important to make sure that the brand does not lose its essence. Coutinho shares, “Retail is much evolved in the global market. However, you need to study Indian demographic. When it comes to F&B, the portion size makes a huge difference in India as compared to the international market. This is where the brand needs to adapt to the local needs. However, the core value of the brand should not be compromised. For example, we retain the 31 flavours of Baskin Robins.”

The differentiating factor

Brand proposition is very important. Identifying the DNA of the brand and where it can fit in – makes the first step towards defining the USP of the brand. Coutinho says, “You have to have a very clear vision. Identify the gap in the market and create a category. This gives you the first mover’s advantage. Thereafter, begins the continual process of innovating in order to stay ahead.” Srinivasan opined, “A brand should endeavor to provide better value to the end customer. Anurag Mathur, Partner-Consumer & Retail Sector, PWC India, shared, “It is about your own value proposition and not getting into a competitive space.” Citing the example of a leading home care brand that has pledged for creating a safe environment for the next seven generations, he explains that brand building should have a purpose. A similar example is that of Patanjali.

The session proceeded further deciphering each and every aspect of building a brand that includes ATL & BTL activities, importance of making emotional connect and building a personal brand. The session concluded discussing the various parameters that should be in place before the brand starts franchising. While Coutinho emphasised on having a proof of concept, SOPs, checks and balances, Srinivasan reinforced the importance of the franchisee-franchisor relationship. 

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