How to Maintain your Brand and Vision When Expanding

Reader asks,

Myself and a colleague are currently in the process of setting up a community initiative aimed at getting individuals to give back to their communities by means of voluntary work and doing acts of good.

We’ve launched our first project aimed at helping the homeless and the response has been better than we thought; we’ve had opportunities to collaborate with different organizations and we’ve also had people from neighbouring cities getting in touch wanting to set up their own branch.

We strongly believed the project had potential since conceptualization but it is growing quicker than anticipated

For our project, word has spread real fast and there are certainly opportunities to set up future outputs in different cities. How do we maintain the brand as one while ensuring that the initial vision is maintained?

There are three things you need to pay attention to when expanding:

  • Processes
  • Policies
  • Culture

I’ve explained it further in the following video:

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My Experience on Dealing with Expansions

I’ve worked with AlMaghrib Institute during a phase when they expanded from about three locations in the United States to over thirty locations spanning across US, Canada, and the UK.

In Washington DC I was employed with a nonprofit that after operating within DC for over 30 years had expanded to Baltimore, Richmond, Alexandria, and Pittsburgh. My role was to help transition the brand and presentation to be representative of the new reality as well as upgrade internal communication and marketing processes.

The current company I’m working at is Zippy Shell, a self storage company. They’re a franchise system that’s expanding and growing. In 2013 the company expanded to 18 new locations and is projected to expand to another 18 to 24 in 2014. Part of my job is to help facilitate that expansion on the marketing side of things while also developing the brand.

I hope what I’ve learned in my experience and what’s important during the growth process is of benefit to you.

Make the Venture Scalable

You need a process and systems in place. This will allow you to separate yourself from the business and not be a one-man show and move toward working with more people.

A system or process is best described simply as checklists.

It could simply be a document that lays out the way you do things in areas of marketing, operations, and finances for the business. Thus when replicating what you do in a new city it’s like a turn-key system.

Without scalability, you cannot expand.

Put Policies in Place

This is as simple contract, an operating agreement, agreed upon and signed by the new city coordinators that will be implementing what you’re doing.

When its agreed upon on paper, it becomes enforceable. It can outline ways you can or cannot operate the venture. An example could be, the new city cannot create their own website and are required to leverage the website that you guys have setup over at “corporate” so to speak.

Work to Establish a Culture

Culture is a combination of the way you do things and the understanding of what’s important. Essentially the coupling of processes and priorities.

This allows people to work together toward goals that help fulfill the vision you have for the venture.

The key is to make clear to the folks you’re working with what the processes and priorities are. And what policies you’ll be enforcing.

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