9 Signs It’s Time to Rebrand Your Franchise Company

Signs its time to rebrand your franchise company

Rebrand or Remain? Understanding When It’s Time to Press the Reset Button

Rebranding can rejuvenate a franchise company’s image and attract new customers, but should be approached thoughtfully. After all, your brand is your company. A rebrand can involve redesigning your logo, changing your company’s name and mission, and/or revamping a website. 

One of the most successful franchise rebrands of all time happened in 2019 when Dunkin’ Donuts changed its name to Dunkin’.

Part of Dunkin’s transformation involved updating its visual identity, which included adopting a more contemporary font and refreshing its color scheme. The shops added more beverage options, including trendy matcha lattes, boba teas, cold brews, and plant-based milk options. Vying for Gen Z’s attention, Dunkin’ partnered with Tik-Tok star Charli D’Amelio, increasing its social media following, app downloads and sales.

SIGNS TO REBRAND YOUR FRANCHISE  COMPANY -DUNKIN
Dunkin’s partnership with Tik-Tok star Charli D’Amelio increased its social media following, app downloads and sales.

Dunkin’ recognized the changing preferences of consumers and sought to position itself as a formidable competitor to coffee giant Starbucks rather than being exclusively known as a donut shop. “Dropping ‘Donuts’ from the name — obviously was like a shot in the air and letting everyone know that Dunkin’ is different,” Drayton Martin, Dunkin’s former vice president of brand marketing, previously told Business Insider.

Since its successful rebranding, Dunkin’ has continued to improve, innovate and partner with celebrities to introduce new products. The company recently made headlines by enlisting actor Ben Affleck and rapper Ice Spice to announce its new Ice Spice Munchkins Drink — a high-profile move to appeal to the Gen Z coffee crowd. Clearly, 73-year-old Dunkin’ has stood the test of time.

Dunkin’s successful change proves that it’s never too late to rebuild your brand identity. But how do you know if it’s the right move for your company? Here are nine signs it’s time to rebrand your franchise company.

1. Declining Sales and Market Share

A noticeable decline in sales and a shrinking market share may indicate that your franchise’s offerings or messaging no longer appeal to your target audience. A well-executed rebranding effort can reignite interest and boost market share. 

Declining sales prompted Burger King to embark on a major rebranding in 2021, which included a new logo design. The next year, the burger giant revamped its classic “Have it Your Way” jingle as part of a $400 million marketing and remodeling overhaul. Its updated “You Rule” song (below) and company tagline “embraces individuality and elevates Have It Your Way, something our brand has always been known for,” Burger King North America President Tom Curtis said in a statement released by the company.

2. Outdated Visual Identity

SIGNS TO REBRAND YOUR FRANCHISE  COMPANY—STARBUCKS

An obsolete logo, color scheme, or typography can make your brand seem out of touch. If your visual identity no longer reflects your company’s identity or the current design trends, it might be worth considering a makeover. Many brands’ logos evolve over time. Starbucks, for example, made several changes to its logo over the years. The last one dropped the company name altogether, resulting in a minimalist — but very recognizable — icon.

3. Negative Public Perception

Rebranding Subway

If your franchise company is marred by negative publicity or scandals, it can erode consumer trust. Rebranding can provide a fresh start and help rebuild a positive public image. For example, sandwich giant Subway has had its share of bad press in the past, but was able to sell itself to private equity firm Roark Capital after years of working to reinvigorate its image and increase sales.

4. Expanding Target Audience

As your franchise company expands into new demographics, rebranding can help tailor your message to resonate with these audiences, ensuring your brand remains relevant and attractive.

5. Changing Industry Trends

SIGNS TO REBRAND YOUR FRANCHISE  COMPANY—MCDONALDS
Mcdonald’s started offering healthier menu items like salads and oatmeal to keep up with the growing trend toward healthier eating.

Staying aligned with evolving industry trends is essential. If your offerings are no longer in sync with consumer preferences, rebranding can help your franchise pivot and remain competitive. A great example of this is McDonald’s move to healthier menu options, such salads as its Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (above). After years of backlash for serving only junk food, the fast-food giant has included more and more dietician-approved menu items.

6. Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are almost a daily occurrence in franchising these days. While they can bring new life into companies, they can also create branding challenges, which may involve blending two distinct corporate identities. Rebranding can help create a cohesive and unified brand identity.

7. Competitive Pressure

Wingers franchise

Increased competition can make it challenging for a franchise to stand out. Rebranding can differentiate a franchise company and help it gain a competitive edge. Knowing this, Wingers set itself apart by leveraging the growing popularity of craft beers. The company changed its name from Wingers Grill and Bar to Wingers Restaurant & Alehouse.

Wingers’ rebranding effort also included redecorating and extending its beer offerings from 12 taps to 40, featuring the best craft beer from local brewers. “Our rebranding to Wingers Alehouse that began in 2016 was a paradigm shift for our brand. Wingers’ rebranded locations became instantly more relevant in today’s marketplace and have set us up for significant franchise growth in the Midwest and beyond. We have seen dramatic unit-level sales increases, with some stores doubling, and even tripling their previous sales. We believe that Wingers is now the premier small and mid-market Alehouse in the industry,“ said Eric Slaymaker, CEO and founder.

8. Shifting Consumer Expectations

Consumer expectations are evolving rapidly, particularly in sustainability, ethics, and digital experiences. Rebranding can help your franchise align with these changing expectations. For example, in October 2020, corporate-run Petco announced it would no longer use “shock” collars. The announcement reinforced the company’s rebranding efforts to appeal more to health-conscious pet parents and be seen as a health and wellness company rather than a pet store.

9. Expansion or New Markets

When your franchise is expanding into new markets or regions, it may be necessary to adapt your brand to local preferences and cultures. A rebrand can help ensure that your business resonates with the new audience.

The Right Time to Rebrand a Franchise Company

Rebranding is a big decision, but it can be a powerful tool for putting new life into a franchise company. Recognizing the signs that it’s time to rebrand can help a franchise system remain competitive, relevant and appealing to its target audience. After all, look what it did for Dunkin’!

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Jill Abrahamsen’s career spans more than 25 years in editorial, design, and marketing roles. As the editorial director of IFPG, she serves as editor-in-chief of Franchise Consultant Magazine and FranchiseWire. Through both platforms, Jill helps franchisors spread the word about their brands and reports on the latest franchise news and trends. A skilled storyteller, Jill communicates franchisor’s messages through feature articles and franchisee interviews.

Jill is an accomplished writer, editor and graphic designer. Her extensive experience includes key roles with major consumer publications, including Boating, Popular Photography, and Design NJ magazines. As founding editor-in-chief of Franchise Dictionary magazine, Jill developed her passion and fascination for franchising which continues to grow in her role at IFPG.
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