Franchise Web Design: Compliant Franchisee and Corporate Sites

A common problem that franchises have is that their corporate and franchisee sites don’t look like they belong together, which results in a brand compliance problem. It’s true that one of the main reason you provide franchisee sites to your employees is so they can take advantage of an online marketing strategy and grow their (and your) business. This means that you need to give them freedom in certain aspects so they can display their service or product to local visitors.

Still, this could be a big problem. Sites in a franchise need to have some continuity in them so there’s brand compliance. In this post I’ll go over how, with design, you could make both of them look like members of the same team.

The idea here is not to make one an exact copy of the other. Instead, we can use elements in design to make the shift from the corporate to the franchisee sites flows more naturally.

From the color palette, to the placement of the logo, among other things. You can create brand identity whilst allowing each franchisee to market their local business!

The Colors in Your Sites

1379706 generic color swatches b e1369426203450 150x112 Franchise Web Design: Compliant Franchisee and Corporate SitesThis is one of the most obvious ones. The color palette is extremely important in web design: it defines your look and feel. This way, when a visitor enters your site, s/he will immediately get a sense of who you are.

Remember that everything: from the texts, links, backgrounds, buttons, among other elements in your site, need a color (even if it’s just black or white) so think about the overall look and what you want to portray through them.

Since franchisee sites need to be compliant with this aspect, it’s a good idea that you share the color palette in the corporate site with them. This creates cohesion between both separate sites in a same company.

At the same time, if you know what your colors are and what goes with your logo, you should take advantage of it and translate it to your franchisee sites.

In this example you can see the corporate site (to the left) and a franchisee site on the right. It’s easy to see that they go together: they have a similar color palette that matches the colors in their logo and goes with the overall theme. The sites aren’t exactly the same but they are tied up together and they look like they belong to one same franchise and the color helps reinforce it.

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The Structure and Layout

850368 architecture 150x150 Franchise Web Design: Compliant Franchisee and Corporate SitesThe way you arrange the elements in your site is another great way to tie the corporate and franchisee sites together. Obviously, you’re not going to have the same amount of content or need the exact same kind of layout. Still, you can create continuity by having a similar header or footer.

In this next example, we’re looking at the header from the corporate (top) and a franchisee (bottom) sites. They’re layout is pretty similar: both of their contact information, logo and navigation menu have a prime spot in their site. This way if a visitor stumbles upon one site and wants to move to the other, s/he won’t have to relearn where everything is (which will make the transition much smoother).

junkkingcorp Franchise Web Design: Compliant Franchisee and Corporate Sites

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Typography for Your Texts

letters 66951 640 150x150 Franchise Web Design: Compliant Franchisee and Corporate SitesAs with the colors, typography sets the mood for a site. It may be an overlooked element but it can make a huge difference, specially since a large portion of the content is text (titles, buttons, links, etc.).

Many companies pay special attention to the typography their employees should use when tying up written words with the brand (wording is another element that can create cohesion, but that has not much to do with web design), that’s why it can provide a sense of connection between both sites.

Make sure the messaging is right by taking care of a tiny detail (like the typeface) that is such an important characteristic in your site!


green 42679 640 Franchise Web Design: Compliant Franchisee and Corporate SitesThe logo. The single most representative element in your company. Of course this is THE ULTIMATE way to tie both sites together! Still, there are some loose knots that need to be tied up: where should it be placed? Can it be animated? What size?

Remember that people interact differently with sites so be sure to set a trend that others can follow to provide the visitor with a compliant message across all of your franchisee sites!

This is an example of what not to do! In this example, the franchisee site (to the right) is a rogue site that is not following the overall messaging of the corporate site (right). One of the first things you may notice is that the logo is nowhere to be found! Sure, it’s animated and it will eventually appear on the header.

BUT! visitors judge your site in a split second so you can’t risk being misrepresented like that! That’s why you need to make sure you’re both on the same page and try to achieve compliance through web design!

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The Imagery & Visual Story

Images come in different formats on the internet: from cartoons, to portraits to animations and infographics. The way you present an image says a lot about your business. Furthermore, you need to think of the possibilities they offer! What design goes around them? Do you frame them? Are they tilted a bit? Black and white or color?

These are decisions that affect the overall personality, look and feel of your site and that’s why they need to be translated onto your franchisee sites. You could even use the same images now and then!

The Usability

Usability or user experience is another aspect of web design. You need to put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and create the most enjoyable experience for them in your site. This way you can make sure that, when transitioning from one site to the other, there’s a consistency in the way you approach their visitors.

If you’d like to learn more about usability and what it takes to have a user friendly site, read the post “Are your franchisee sites user friendly?”.


Still, compliance can be kind of tricky to achieve (specially when dealing with numerous sites). To have more control over it, you can provide a brand document to your franchisees where you go over web design or take advantage of the many perks Empowerkit gives you in terms of compliance!

You can also read about how to achieve brand compliance in your franchise across all the web (not just in web design).

Regardless of how you do it, remember that you’ve worked long and hard to get to a certain position in the market and a misrepresentation can be very damaging!

If you have any questions, feel free to let us know!

May 24, 2013

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