1851 Franchise spoke with Cinnabon president Joe Guith to learn how the concept leverages its brand awareness among consumers while looking ahead to outpace industry trends.
When you hear the word “Cinnabon,” odds are there’s only one thing that comes to mind: a delicious, warm cinnamon roll topped with cream cheese frosting. You’re not alone—the brand is one of the most well-known bakeries in the world, and its products have become a standard in its industry. That global recognition realizes a level of brand awareness that few concepts have achieved. But with locations in more than 50 countries, it’s no surprise that Cinnabon is capitalizing on its position as a legacy brand.
Since its founding in 1985 by a father and son in Seattle, Washington, Cinnabon has become a rapidly growing franchise concept. And according to the brand’s president, Joe Guith, Cinnabon’s legacy plays a major role in the brand’s ongoing expansion and development efforts.
“One of the things that makes Cinnabon’s franchising opportunity so unique is the fact that it’s brand awareness is on another level. Out reputation among consumers is virtually unheard of, even in some of the world’s largest franchises. That gives us a huge competitive advantage because franchisees who sign on to open up their own location don’t need to worry about customers knowing who we are and what we do. All of that information comes with the brand name,” said Guith. “But even though Cinnabon is so well-known and has an established global presence, there’s still a lot of room for us to run. Between enclosed malls and untapped markets, our local owners have the opportunity to expand their reach.”
However, Cinnabon’s strong reputation and potential for growth aren’t the only things that are fueling its growth among consumers and business owners alike. The brand’s commitment to innovation and focus on staying ahead of the latest industry trends are also driving forces behind the brand’s continued success.
“We’re just as focused on innovation as we are on maintaining our position as a legacy brand. That’s why one of the biggest milestones that has happened since I’ve been with Cinnabon has been making the decision to change how we present ourselves to our guests,” Guith said. “We reinvented and repositioned the Cinnabon brand, from integrating new technology into our systems and leveraging e-commerce to rolling out different products in new regions like BonBites. And the risk in changing our positioning has absolutely been worth the reward—now, the next generation of consumers is motivated to keep coming back.”
Beyond the steps that Cinnabon takes to make its business ownership opportunity attractive to prospective franchisees, the brand also actively monitors its expansion initiatives to ensure that it’s growing the right way. That’s why Guith typically spends about two to three weeks per month in the field to support and guide franchisees. And the brand boasts an open and collaborative culture that’s designed to encourage both members of the corporate team and franchisees to speak up.
That type of community and interaction across Cinnabon’s entire system is ultimately what makes it stand out from the competition. Because it’s a franchise brand, the concept is built to provide help and guidance to those who need it. And it’s not just Cinnabon that will benefit from the power of the franchising business model. Going forward, Guith anticipates that the industry will continue to grow as more and more brands and aspiring business owners recognize the advantages that a proven system brings to the table.
“I’ve been in franchising now for close to 20 years, and I think what’s powerful about the model is that it can bring the power of a national or global brand anywhere in the world. While brands bring their next level branding, relevance and powerful guest experiences to the table, franchisees can tap into their local expertise and knowledge of their unique economy. When done right, that combination can be unstoppable,” said Guith. “The mentality of a local owner driving the day-to-day results of a location paired with the power of an established brand can far outstretch potential competitors that don’t have those same advantages.”