By Anthony Round, Business Development Manager, Papa John’s.
When purchasing a franchise, to some degree you are buying into the power of a well-known and established brand. So what elements are important and go to make up a successful brand?
The logo could be described as the face of the brand. It needs to be instantly recognisable and stand out. Companies use bright colours and bold fonts or imagery to achieve this. Yet, the logo is only an illustration and the important elements of a brand are contained in its ‘brand values’ which are only summed up visually by the logo.
These are the types of qualities that are outlined clearly in a company vision or mission statement. For example, Papa John’s the pizza company whose brand is now marketed successfully across 33 countries has the following mission statement for its customers: “Papa John's will create superior brand loyalty through (a) authentic, superior-quality products, (b) legendary customer service and (c) exceptional community service.”
The company mission statement is supported by its core values. For example, one of Papa John’s core values is: constant improvement: “We never stop trying to surpass our previous best. We constantly ‘raise the bar’. No matter how good we are, we will always get better.” There are other core values but the point is that they are written down, describing the company’s ethics, style and approach to business. Adherence to such mission statements, backed up by core values creates a company personality which can then easily be reflected by staff and products alike. Those values can be emphasised within communications to customers, targets and any other relevant audience. They are echoed within the copy of marketing literature, on the company website, in adverts and even in the way the telephone is answered. It is the cascade of such values and the continuity expressed across different geographical regions that ensures ‘customers know what to expect’ and a strong brand is created. However, a strong and highly promoted brand is not always a guarantee of success. If the product or service does not live up to expectations then, because in any market there is competition, customers will go elsewhere. The company that can consistently satisfy its customers will win and maintain the market share.
Generally, brands compete on the four main differentiators of quality, cost, customer service and/or innovation. To be successful, the brand must be strong in at least one of those areas, if not more. One reason why Papa John’s has been so successful across the world is its emphasis on quality. For example, Papa John’s concept of only using the highest quality ingredients and 100% fresh dough to create a top quality pizza with a better natural flavour is particularly popular.
Yet there is also a focus on quality relating to the premises and overall customer service and experience. There are other, ‘cheaper’ operators out there, who have chosen to compete on price but when it comes to the food industry the trend is for consumers to demand excellent quality and so as a consequence, Papa John’s has experienced rapid growth across the globe. If you are evaluating the purchase of a franchise then do consider the strength of the brand you are buying into. How well known and popular the brand is will either help or hinder the smooth running of your franchise. Consider which aspect of the positioning the brand competes on (quality, cost, customer service and/or innovation) and assess if that is clear and appropriate for the particular industry. Also assess the competition: are they promoting different values or the same? If the offering is too similar then your franchise must have strong, unique selling points to set it apart and win customers.