Misconceptions about Brand Standards

Let’s be completely frank. Are your franchisees, and sites fully in line with brand standards?

A survey by the In-Store Implementation Network sought to quantify a facet of this issue, specifically merchandising, and asked retail professionals how they measure performance of in-store merchandising.

Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed responded that they “make the assumption that the job got done” and 23% “do not measure in-store execution” at all.

Yet, the same research estimates that non-compliance costs the industry 1% of sales annually.


Most multi-unit operators know execution remains an issue and that this issue is costing them. So what’s getting in the way?

Misconceptions could be holding you back. Let’s dive in.

The Misconception that Training is sufficient

When done, here is content other readers find helpful:

Training is essential but training alone does not guarantee brand standards are followed. Store staff may be trained, answer the quiz and pass the test, but are they applying their learned skills where it matters, enhancing the customer experience?

Training is necessary but not sufficient.

The Misconception that there is No need to MEASURE Brand Standards

Rather than treat operating procedures and auditable items are two separate buckets, switch your approach to “inspect what you expect”. Treat the standard being documented and communicated as the same standard used for the audit, verification and correction.

Communication and execution of programs and standards are on the same spectrum. Successful brands build workflows around the principle of continuous learning and validation.

Measure what you communicate so brand standards are communicated, reinforced and measured using a consistent scale.

Measurements also enable analytics and reporting at head-office to help manage the business and drive the brand forward.

The Misconception that excel is Fine

Operators who do monitor location performance sometimes rely on Excel and email. This is slow, error-prone and labor-intensive. Additionally, not having a centralized system deprives the organization of the analytics it needs to make informed business decisions.

A centralized communication and inspection system can achieve return-on-investment on the process improvement alone while giving all levels of the organization access to real-time reporting and analytics.

Excel is not a management system and will not help you achieve brand standards at scale. It is not helping your business, it’s holding it back.

District manager retail audit in a store with a tablet

The Misconception that Mystery Shopping has you Covered

A district manager visit is educational and preventive in nature. This process ensures the locations are efficient, safe, profitable and customer ready. This is essential because, unlike mystery shopping, a District Manager led visit can vet operations and prevent problems before they happen.

The district manager isn’t strictly inspecting the outcome, they are checking that the process itself is conducive to a successful outcome.

A positive customer experience does not happen in vacuum. It happens when all parts of the operations machine are functioning individually and together well.

A mystery shopping program is not a substitute for internal communication and inspection programs.

Execution of brand Standards has many benefits

  • Drive sales through in-store merchandising
  • Drive the brand forward through consistent execution of branding and positioning
  • Protect the brand
  • Protect your customers and employees’ health and safety
  • Increase customer satisfaction. Customers have a way of thanking stores and sites that are well run: they come back!

The most successful brands all share one trait: they execute better than the competition. Don’t be held back by misconceptions. Put the focus on the execution of brand standards, better run and more profitable locations and franchisees.

Unless you do it on time, in full, at every site, you are not executing at all


Refer to the Brand Standards category for how-tos and best practices for brand standards in retail and hospitality.


Refer to Retail Execution category for how-tos and best practices for retail and hospitality execution of brand standards and programs.

3 thoughts on “Misconceptions about Brand Standards

  1. Nice work describing the pain point, Fabien. That sounds like a no-brainer to me.

    I would even go one step further, a little in the spirit of the “real-time web”: I think that reporting shouldn’t be limited to the occasional visit of the area manager, it should be done by the store manager as well, and more importantly, increasingly over time, by web-enabled devices capable of monitoring the environment.

    Ok, it sounds a little orwellian, but I don’t think it has to be. Having a clean place and the right display definitely drives business for most outlets and there is nothing threatening privacy in making sure that’s the case! As an example, my family stopped going to the nearby Burger king b/c we found the place so dirty.

  2. Which makes me think, you could also include customer feedback, increasingly available through sites like yelp and getsatisfaction, in the compliance dashboard for the store and area managers! Wow, the possibility are endless and it seems like it should be pretty quick to identify those with the highest ROI for the chains.

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