If you’ve got more than one location, it just got at least three times as hard to keep your brand consistent. “If I have two locations, shouldn’t it just be two-times as hard?” you ask. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. Having more than one location usually, means that you have to split your time between the two (or more) locations. It also means you’ve probably hired a manager or senior employee for each location that is in charge when you’re not there to help you work on consistent branding. And without a doubt that manager or senior employee has their own interpretation of your brand, how customers should be served, and what the vibe of the location should be. Your senior staff also has a way they describe those expectations to their employees. Communication is imperfect and introducing one more location to your brand equation will ensure that the communication about your brand image necessarily suffers.
So what are you to do to help mitigate this problem? First, as is most often the case, acknowledging the problem exists is the place to start. Next, spend time with your senior staff to make sure they understand your brand position. And most importantly, spend time with your customer service staff and share your brand story with them – often and regularly. It is by you taking the time to personal share your brand story with all the customer service staff that you will be able to ensure that the experience your customers have in your business is consistent. And consistency is king!
The other place to spend some time is in examining how your collateral material is being used at each location. I can assure you that somewhere along the way some helpful employee decided to put your logo on some label, form, sign, t-shirt, or giveaway. Even more likely, that they created a form they use to help customers with that has your logo on it. It is also very probable that when they did, they accidentally smushed your logo one way or the other, or used the wrong one for the application, or used a bad copy, or just used it incorrectly. Their intentions were good – but the result isn’t the brand image you’re after. A Brand Book will help you keep these elements consistent.
To remedy that situation, there are two things you need to do in order to create consistent branding:
Look closely at what’s around your business. Does it represent your brand well? Look very closely at new forms that materialize. Check everywhere – high and low – even check the magazines in the waiting area. (I once had someone “help” by designing a sticker to put over the address sticker on magazines in the waiting room that had a smushed logo and off-brand color choices.) You just never know what you’re going to find. So look closely.
- Talk with your staff about how to use your logo and brand image. Try to limit the individuals to are “allowed” to add your logo to things. I know, it sounds severe but the bigger you get, the more important this is going to be. Those “allowed” individuals need to understand how, when, and where to represent your brand. It’s much easier to train a few people than to train everyone.
In keeping your brand consistent among different business locations, be sure you personally share your brand story with the whole staff, keep your eyes open for how your brand is being represented, and limit the number of people who have the ability to add your logo to collateral. Taking those simple steps will help you to maintain the consistency of your brand.