Wing Zone Scores with Flavor Fuze in New Overseas Markets

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Wing Zone’s new brand identity plays a key role in its international expansion and sales growth.

Diqueos Tagaropulos, Wing Zone Panama franchisee

With Flavor FuZe, you can fuse just about every item on the menu with flavorful combinations.

Wing Zone, an Atlanta-based restaurant franchise system, has launched a major international expansion program – all part of its corporate re-branding initiative with its focus on flavor.

Keeping a brand relevant to the pulse of the market is crucial to success for today’s restaurant brands. Think McDonald’s shift from clowns and playgrounds to Wi-Fi and lattes. Wing Zone faced a similar branding challenge when its traditional model – the independent operator offering take out/delivery of wings – came under pressure in a rapidly changing economy. For Wing Zone, the pressure to reinvent itself turned into a major coup as international franchise developers flocked to Wing Zone’s new Flavor FuZe brand identity.

“We found ourselves at a crossroads,” explained Matt Friedman, Wing Zone president. “Our sole proprietor outlets were the most vulnerable to the economic downturn. What’s more, our specialized niche –15 flavors of Buffalo wings – faced competitive pressure from other players who were adding wings to their menus or made Buffalo wings the focus of their brands.”

Wing Zone turned to Design Coup Inc., an Atlanta-based brand development agency, to rethink the company’s brand strategy. “As part of our Brand Story development process, we discovered a hidden treasure in Wing Zone’s award-winning sauces,” explained Michael Higgins, Design Coup president. “The magic ingredient was that Wing Zone would infuse just about any menu item with their amazing flavors – burger patties, shrimp, chicken fingers, you name it.”

Design Coup shifted the company’s entire focus to flavor. Sauces became flavors, customers became Flavorholics and the cooking process became Flavor FuZe. The company’s logo, signage, interiors and menu descriptions were also reworked to celebrate the flavor theme. “We set a rule: Anyone using the 's-word,' sauce instead of flavor, would be fined,” said Design Coup’s Michael Higgins.

While the re-brand was underway, Wing Zone added new formats to its traditional take-out model, including standalone drive-thru, food court, and casual sit-down dining. The company also developed an international distribution method to maintain consistent flavor and taste. “Our biggest breakthrough was that our new flavor branding had immediate appeal to multi-unit operators – especially overseas where people crave exciting flavors,” explained Friedman. “While the economies of U.S. and Europe are in the doldrums, places like Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim have exploding growth. We recently opened in Panama, a country which had a 9.7% growth rate in the first 3 months of 2011 compared to a year earlier.”

When Wing Zone’s new flavor brand was launched last year in the Bahamas, lines snaked out the front door for the first week. Panama now hosts Wing Zone’s first multi-unit presence overseas with a major mall food court and two sit-down restaurants in Panama City. The Panama stores immediately became the highest grossers in the system.

“With Flavor FuZe, you can fuse just about every item on the menu with flavorful combinations,” explains Diqueos Tagaropulos, Panama’s first Wing Zone franchisee. “It’s a fun environment, a fun restaurant, and in Panama, people love the flavor concept.” VIDEO

Wing Zone continues to expand its flavor concept internationally. New markets opening soon or in development include Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico, and Japan.

About Design Coup – Design Coup, a strategic branding and creative agency, creates innovative brand communications for leading manufacturers, healthcare organizations, franchise systems, and new business ventures. Located in Atlanta, GA (Decatur), Design Coup has been building brand awareness for its clients since 1998. For more information about Design Coup, visit http://www.designcoup.com/.

About Wing Zone – Wing Zone was founded in 1991 at the University of Florida by Matt Friedman and Adam Scott, who cooked wings with homemade sauces in their fraternity house kitchen and delivered them to fellow college students. After opening several Wing Zone locations, Scott and Friedman began franchising Wing Zone in 1999. Wing Zone now has nearly 100 locations open across the U.S. and overseas. For more information about Wing Zone visit http://www.wingzone.com. FlavorholicsSM and Flavor FuZe are service marks of Wing Zone.

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