What’s the value in refreshing a brand?

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

Refreshing a brand can help to keep it alive.

The Franchisor CEO Survey conducted by DC Strategy provided some significant insight into how leading franchisors perceive the value of brand refreshment. Of those surveyed, approximately two thirds had undertaken a brand refreshment in the preceding four years. More than half anticipated doing so in the next three years. This suggests that on average, franchisors conduct a brand refresh at least every seven years. The question is, why?

Subway in the UK undertook a rebranding exercise with one of its products, the Daily Special. The product had been available in the marketplace for some time, but only 22 percent of the population were aware of Subway and only 13 percent had visited an outlet. The business undertook a significant rebranding exercise centred around the Daily Special. The product was rebranded to the Sub of the Day throughout a series of innovative campaigns. While Subway’s budget was consistently outspent by its major quick service restaurant rivals (KFC, Burger King and McDonald’s), the chain managed to produce some incredible results:

  • 9.8 percent uplift in annual sales
  • 10 percent increase in purchase intent
  • Recognition of the Sub of the Day at 54 percent

What accounted for these increases? The repositioning of just one product in the Subway range was not accompanied by changes to the store environment, price of the offer, additional stores being established, a change in ingredients – it was simply that the product was repositioned and refreshed.

Refreshing a brand or one of the brand elements doesn’t have to be on a network-wide basis either as US-based electronics retailer Best Buy will attest. This business refreshed its brand by targeting each of its stores directly at a particular customer segment. Best Buy changed the product range, atmosphere (via music) and salespeople to attract a certain customer segment. In just one store, the results were amazing: a 72 percent uplift in sales.

If these examples aren’t enough to convince you that refreshing a brand is worthwhile, consider the fact that brand refreshment illustrates company development or growth, demonstrates investment in the future, increases brand appeal, draws attention to the company and re-invigorates the appeal of the offer.

So, why should a franchisee be concerned about this? For one very good reason: the issue of brand management goes directly to the franchisee’s ability to generate increasing returns in their business. Customers are fickle. You have to give them a reason to keep buying from you, a fact which many businesses simply overlook. The fact that customers continue to purchase from a particular business doesn’t necessarily indicate loyalty, it may mean there is merely an absence of credible alternatives.

Already faced with a huge range of issues to consider when selecting a franchise opportunity, the prudent franchisee will also consider the franchisor’s history in managing its brand, keeping it alive, continually innovating and driving business to the franchisee’s door.