Every business is a brand. And whether that business has two storefronts or 200, that brand must be visible, compelling, and consistent at every location. But oftentimes, when a business is growing, that single identity is spread across too many channels – both in offline and digital advertising — and the signal gets lost.
So, what’s the best way to keep your brand aligned at every storefront? Customization and localization are key to creating a relationship with your customers — but you’ll still need a hierarchy in place to keep your message consistent, no matter where your storefronts are.
Two Tips for Better Brand Communication
A consistent message is built with two tools: communication and control. Many times, businesses with multiple locations leave far too much to chance — or with the people who run their stores every day. Here are two ways you can avoid these pitfalls:
1. Find ways to keep it local. It can be difficult to carry messages consistently across multiple independent locations and still have it resonate with every customer. That’s why each storefront needs to have a local presence, market, and image — not just a cookie-cutter version of the brand it belongs to. There is a certain time and place for these kinds of variations, but you need to understand when and how to use this type of branding or messaging.
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2. Build brands based on standards, not owners. Each store manager may have a different delivery of your brand’s message, depending on where the store is and what kind of customer it’s targeting. Ideally, there should always be healthy communication to make sure that your managers are adhering to corporate marketing guidelines overall. But that’s not always the case. Fixing this is simple: Most corporations simply need to monitor to make sure that marketing and promotions are happening consistently.
But How Local Should You Go?
It’s always important to give a local storefront an accessible, friendly presence. But that doesn’t mean you need a cityscape skyline in every graphic or that you should give your general manager control over promotional ideas. It’s important to maintain a professional, well-designed look and message in every facet of your marketing.
Sometimes, though, it’s best to lead with a specific, targeted local message, and follow it with a consistent brand message. For example, Sylvan Learning Center has digital marketing initiatives based around the calendar year of every local school. That means that the offers or timelines are all fundamentally built around the start of the school year, the start of spring break, and other local (and national) holidays. The company’s marketing strategy depends on that local insight – and it’s a great example of how you can appeal to a specific market effectively with a standard message.
A Strategy that Serves You at Every Level
So, how you can design an online marketing plan that fits the corporate and local levels? One simple answer: email. Emails are about building relationships with customers, and those emails should come from — and represent — the local business. Naturally, they should be branded with consistent messaging, national promotions, and corporate marketing, but they also need to showcase a local personality and should keep the customer feeling connected to that particular store. Likewise, emails give the corporate brand a way to control and organize promotions, as well as create the brand look and feel that your company needs. On the other hand, local merchants are able to customize messaging to preserve that local touch.
Branding isn’t a stamp that you put on every marketing material. It’s a balancing act, and it’s different for every business. That’s why it’s important to take a good, hard look at your markets, your storefronts, and your brand. Find out what strategy fits you — and your customers — best.