This past Wednesday, we partnered with the Arizona Technology Council to present a panel of branding experts to discuss building a brand experience like your favorite restaurant. Our panelists included Kate Unger, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Kahala, a franchising company (owners of Cold Stone Creamery and Blimpie brands, along with 12 others); Deborah Topcik, Director of Marketing for Z’Tejas, Inc. which owns and operates 11 restaurants in six markets; and John Banquil, Regional Manager for Ling and Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill. Below, we have have posted 19 takeaways to recap the event.

Cold Stone Creamery is launching with International Delight – ice cream flavored coffee creamer sounds amazing!

Take advantage of product placement opportunities like Cold Stone Creamery did with Ryan Seacrest. Ryan sent out this tweet: On the way to @kimkardashian’s wedding…traffic so bad on the 101 I had to stop at cold stone creamery…coffee lovers in my belly…I will quick change in the car…I always keep a suit in trunk!

“We’re comfortable with our food – we want to make sure our staff is doing the right thing for our brand every time” – John Banquil, Ling and Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill

On social media…

  • “Make it so people can see behind the curtain, give them sneak peeks to upcoming menu items.” – Deborah Topcik, Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill
  • “Social media doesn’t replace people. If a manager sees someone in 4 times in 2 weeks, do something for them! Don’t just rely on check-ins.” – John Banquil, Ling and Louie’s
  • “Someone sits at the bar tweeting, we can respond right away and make them laugh – that’s a personal experience.” – John Banquil, Ling and Louie’s
  • Talking to your staff about promoting via social media is a fine line – you never know what they’re going to say.

“Our Taco Time stores are individually branded towards their communities. It was difficult to do, but well worth it, and fit in with the original store.” – Kate Unger, Kahala

“The Ling and Louie brand is about relating everything back to Ling and Louie, including the servers we hire and the way we communicate.” – John Banquil, Ling and Louie’s

“Make sure there is added value to discounts. Your discounts should not be telling the discount story.” – Deborah Topcik, Z’Tejas

“Always stay ahead.” Kate Unger, Kahala on frozen yogurt in Cold Stone Creamery.

“You have to make sure what you want to do as a corporation is what makes sense for franchises in their markets.” – John Banquil, Ling and Louie’s

“When people feel informed, they feel better about decisions.” – Kate Unger, Kahala

“There is a holiday for everything, and it’s a fun way to establish your brand through marketing.” – Deborah Topcik, Z’Tejas

“We want to be out of the box, out of the ‘wok’ if you will.” – John Banquil, Ling and Louie’s

“Cold Stone Creamery started in Tempe, at an ice cream shop that made ice cream creations on a cold stone” – Kate Unger, Kahala

“Blimpies was the first sub shop in the country, that’s where the tagline ‘America’s sub shop’ comes from.” – Kate Unger, Kahala

“Lance Armstrong started Livestrong at Z’Tejas in Austin – the first location, we benefited from it, but it was all chance that the launch happened there!” – Deborah Topcik, Z’Tejas

“It’s all or nothing with discounts – we stick to ‘not boring holidays’ to go along with our brand” – John Banquil, Ling and Louie’s

Special thanks to the Arizona Technology Council for setting up this event!