by Dave Taylor
Franchisees of Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King are required to remodel their restaurant locations whenever their franchisors determine it’s necessary. These are often full-scale remodels that shut a location down for weeks and cost a good chunk of the franchisee’s annual profits to pay for. The mother brands require updates as part of their franchise agreements because they know it represents a critical investment in keeping their brands fresh, appealing and relevant to their customers.
The burgers and fries haven’t changed, but the experience of visiting the new dining room, or even just the improved drive-through, reflects positively on the brand and will for years to come.
Anything that affects your customer (or prospect) experience is part of your brand, so the definition of investing in your brand is broad. The proper amount varies widely by industry, of course. As in the fast food example, the amount can be an expensive remodel every few years, or it could just be new menu signage and a mobile phone app that speeds takeout orders. The key is to keep an eye on the competition’s level of investment and make sure you budget for improvements on a long-term basis.
Here are two principles for investing in your brand:
Brand and brand experience cover a lot of ground, so there are many ways to improve them. But a more efficient accounting system isn’t a brand investment unless it improves your customers’ experience through, say, simplified invoicing, or improved account management tools. Restructuring your customer service department to create dedicated account service people would be a great example of investing in your brand.
Brands are built over time, not overnight. This means regular spending over years will build and sustain the qualities of your brand. You can’t build a brand in a month, no matter how much cash you have. Exhibit A: The dot.com boom where brands like pets.com soared and crashed in two years. They built awareness and short-term sales, but it wasn’t enough to create sustained brand loyalty. Ironically, digital technology is likely changing your business in many ways and will undoubtedly affect perceptions of your brand if your competition has faster software, a better website or a slicker mobile app.