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By Sarah Bright on June 24, 2024

Streamlining Brand Asset Management Across Franchises: A Strategic Approach

As a franchise marketer, you know how frustrating it is to invest time and effort in building out a whole library of brand assets and guidelines only to watch them go ignored by everyone you created them for. Franchise owners either veer off into creating their own assets that aren't brand compliant, or they inundate designers with one-off requests for assets that already exist. And by the time you add a rule to your guidelines to correct the issue, new brand violations have popped up at any number of your other franchise locations. 

Managing brand assets across franchises doesn't have to feel like a Sisyphean task. By equipping yourself with the right tools and using these tips, you can streamline brand asset management no matter how large your franchise network is.

Offer Brand Training

You likely already have a documented set of brand guidelines, but so do 85% of companies, and only 30% use them consistently and correctly. It's too easy for franchisees to misunderstand, overlook, or forget about rules that they've only ever seen in a handbook.

Make sure your brand guidelines stick by implementing training on your brand's voice, tone, and visual identity. Teach your franchisees how to use your asset management platform, and guide them through the correct way to create their own custom assets while remaining compliant with your brand book. 

You don't have to limit training to part of the franchisee onboarding process, either. Offer refreshers and workshops on specific skills to turn your franchisees into branding asset power users.

Expand Your Brand Guidelines

A typical brand book will include instructions on things like voice and tone, brand colors, fonts, layouts, and logos. But brand books are normally designed to be used by professional marketers and designers, and this information isn't enough to guide the average franchise owner without any career branding experience.

Revisit your brand guidelines through a franchisee's eyes and think through what kind of tools and information would be useful to someone with no formal design or marketing training. In addition to the basics, consider adding sections like:

  • A one-page style guide "cheat sheet" that franchisees can keep on hand for easy reference, instead of having to pull out the entire handbook each time they create a new asset.
  • A brand compliance checklist that helps ensure assets include essential elements and avoid common mistakes.
  • A set of examples of compliant and non-compliant marketing assets.
  • A best practices guide for creating custom localized assets while remaining compliant with brand guidelines.
  • A "best in show" portfolio of successful past marketing campaigns for franchisees to emulate.

The more specific you can get with your franchise brand guidelines, the easier it will be for franchise owners to follow them while meeting all of their marketing needs.

Use a Purpose-Built Asset Management System

According to McKinsey, employees spend an average of nearly two hours each day organizing and searching for files. While a standard cloud storage platform is great for personal use, it's not enough to manage brand assets for an entire franchise network. 

A purpose-built asset management system comes with tools that make it easier for franchisees to find the assets they need and give you greater control over how those assets are used. When choosing a brand asset management tool, look for these features:

  • Agile user permissions and franchisee segmentation capabilities, so users don't have access to assets they shouldn't use.
  • Detailed metadata fields to enable advanced asset searches.
  • Template customization with asset-level permissions, so you can control how much users can edit text, images, formats, and other design elements.
  • In-platform editing, so franchisees can add text and graphics to create content that caters to their local market.

"Atomize" Your Assets

No matter how many assets you create at the corporate level, franchisees will always have a need for custom content that speaks to their local market. Franchise owners only go off-book and create noncompliant content when the assets provided by corporate can't meet their localized marketing needs. So if you want to keep your franchise owners operating within your brand guidelines, you need to provide tools and assets that can be used to create highly customized, location-specific content. 

One way to make advanced customization possible is by "atomizing" your assets, or breaking them down into granular building blocks that users can configure to create their localized content. Instead of building out full branding assets, create a library of reusable components like buttons, icons, forms, and graphics and leave the asset assembly to your franchisees.

Build a Template Library

While atomization can be a good way to strike a balance between compliance and customizability, component-level asset creation is typically something that should be reserved for franchise partners with a highly experienced design professional on staff. Editable asset templates offer users a similar level of customizability without removing the design guardrails completely.

Create a library of asset templates that franchisees can customize to fit their local marketing needs. With a purpose-built franchise asset management tool, you can set controls at the component level, so you can determine what pieces of a template can be edited and which should remain consistent across all content.

Implement Version Control

As a brand evolves over time, so does its visual identity. Noncompliant branding isn't always the result of franchise owners that have gone rogue with their content creation; sometimes it's a simple matter of failing to keep up with branding updates. 

It can be difficult to push brand updates out to an entire network of franchisees efficiently. When franchise owners still have access to old versions of assets, it's all too common for individual locations to continue running campaigns with out-of-date design elements that negatively impact their individual marketing efforts and erode the brand as a whole.

Purpose-built asset management tools allow franchise marketers to implement version control over their design components. Since users create their content directly within the app platform, the asset files that appear in their content come straight from the source instead of from local storage or a separate design tool. When brand elements are updated at the corporate level, those changes are reflected across the entire franchise network right away.

When you spend all of your time trying to catch and correct noncompliant brand assets, it can feel like you're more of a brand cop than a brand manager. The key to streamlining brand asset management is to focus on better tools instead of more rules. By implementing comprehensive brand training and using a purpose-built brand asset management tool, you can empower your franchisees to create highly custom content without deviating from your brand.

Read More: 4 Benefits of Brand Compliance Systems for Design Teams

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Published by Sarah Bright June 24, 2024
Sarah Bright