🚀 What Are Brand Standards?

Brand standards span broad areas of a retail or hospitality network, including branding, customer service, product assortment, preferred vendors, merchandising, cleanliness, human resources, security, loss prevention and fire prevention. They govern how the business should be presented, and how programs should be implemented.

Most retail and hospitality groups communicate and expect franchisees and managers to adhere to brand standards.

Executed properly, brand standards turn every franchisee into a brand ambassador.

What are you waiting for?

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  • 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.

Training is not sufficient

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.

You 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.

excel is Holding you Back

Using Excel and email for brand standards is slow, error-prone and labor-intensive. It also deprives the organization of the analytics it needs to make informed business decisions.

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

Mystery Shopping Is Not Enough

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.


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

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