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Brand Longevity: A Sweet Lesson From Cinnabon

Did you ever invite friends to your house but forget to check with your spouse? Maybe you were going to watch the big game or play some corn-hole in the back yard or ping-pong on the table in the basement.

“What are you doing for food?” your smarter half asks. Oh yea. Food. You bought the beer and wine and chips, but you haven’t thought about the food. But like millions of other last-minute home event planners in America, you have a “go-to menu” that consists of two of the most common crowd-pleasing foods — pizza and wings.

Fortunately for you, Yum! Brands has two of its most popular offerings — Pizza Hut and WingStreet in the same drive through location. Being careful to avoid distracted driving, while on your way home, you use hands-free dialing to call.

The nice person who answered the phone takes your wing and pizza order and then asks if you want dessert with your order. That surprises you. “Dessert?” you ask, “What kind of desert?” “Cinnabon mini rolls.” she says.

CINNABON? Suddenly, your mind wanders back to the last time you were in a mall — when was that — 2014 or 2015? You recall the wonderful smell of the Cinnabon store drawing you into it and practically forcing you to purchase and consume the 880-calorie treat, made perfectly sinful with 58 grams of sugar and 37 grams of fat.

You get back to your Pizza Hut call.  You’re already clogging your friends’ arteries with pizza and wings, and you know that adding Cinnabon could create a cardiac event — but you order them anyway. If you are picking up the food, you know you will be sampling the mini rolls on the way home.

So why is Cinnabon available in a Pizza Hut? The same reason it’s available in truck stops, college campuses and even hospitals.  With malls disappearing at a steady rate and Covid-19 pandemic making things worse,Cinnabon knew it had to switch things up for longevity. It had to adapt or perish.

Adapting meant using smaller footprint store-within-a-store concept and home delivery. Cinnabon has also gone all-in on co-branded products—everything from Pinnacle Cinnabon vodka to Cinnabon-flavored protein powder for Ghost.

Cinnabon provides a good lesson for any brand that is 10 or 15 years old — or older. Cinnabon had to adapt or perish. You might have to do the same.


If your company, or your brand, is more than 10 or 15 years old you should have already done some adapting. So many things have changed in the last two decades that you should take a good look at your brand or have someone do it for you.

Here are some questions to ask as the beginning of a self-exam to make sure your brand is adapting:

  • Does your brand name still have the same impact it had when you started? Does your logo design look current?
  • Where are you selling your products? Are your products available only in bricks and mortar locations — or can customers buy from you online? If you are B2B, can they at least inquire online if not order online?
  • Where are your advertising and marketing efforts viewed by prospects? Is it still found mostly in traditional media, or have you expanded into social media?
  • Have you adapted to the lifestyles and interests of newer consumers and tried using influencers?

Cinnabon used a unique strategy combining partnerships and “going small” — focusing on one or two products and partnering to place them as part of an offering in another business.  Can you try this with one of your product or service lines?

Test impulse sales with a pop-up store in a high-traffic location.  You can do the same thing with a Facebook Live session — perhaps mixing in a public service message or “how-to-use-our product” lesson in.

Cinnabon provides a good lesson for all of us marketers — Adapt or Perish.  If you adapt and succeed you can reward yourself by adding a gooey, delicious Cinnabon to your next pizza and wing order. ##

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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