Beyond Pizza: Cicis Overhauls Its 30-Year-Old Brand from the Ground Up
Darin Harris is CEO of Cicis, which has nearly 450 restaurants in 32 states.
For 30 years, Cicis has been delivering unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, and dessert to every guest who enters its restaurants. But over the course of three decades, customers evolved. They wanted something better, more innovation, more contemporary restaurant designs... something beyond where Cicis had been.
So, with the introduction of the company's new leadership team, the Cicis brand underwent a comprehensive review to pull itself out of the past and into the future. We started from the ground up to evolve every facet of the business, including product, price, place, promotion, and the meaning behind our name.
First, we listened
The first step to understanding where we needed to go was to listen in on what guests enjoyed about Cicis today. Our guests expressed their love for the great value Cicis gives them and their families, as well as the freedom to choose whatever flavor or combination they desire. Kids also love the freedom they get within a Cicis, and they love our game room. We also looked to our founding franchisees. The Cicis brand could be sustained only through the success of these partners, and with their partnership we've crafted a future for Cicis using its history and heritage as a foundation. With these crucial insights, "Feeding Individuality" was solidified as our brand positioning.
Next, we planned
"Feeding Individuality" gave us the platform to develop our strategic marketing plan to fully transform the Cicis brand, with the goal of continuous improvement of sales results and a strong, positive momentum with franchisees. Not only must our guests be empowered by their personal choices, but those choices must be from a great variety of high-quality products. That's why our product and product lineup saw transformation, with continuous commitment to improving flavor, the upgrade of our salad bar and core pizza recipes, and the introduction of our Stuffed Crust Pizza. Hence, the marketing campaign "Better. Believe it!"
We agreed with our franchise advisory board that to properly relaunch the brand, we first needed to create and activate a unique vision of its future. That vision would help identify the Cicis ideal, while inspiring our franchisee community and our employees.
Cicis began as the first of its kind - the first restaurant to offer an unlimited pizza buffet. We did things differently 30 years ago, which is why we decided to reframe the brand to set us apart from the competition with a different kind of relevance to our target consumers - relevance that was more than just pizza.
Defining the new brand vision
Working with our design partners and our franchisees we set out to create a new brand vision to fulfill our strategic outcomes. Together we developed its identity, personality, and new restaurant design.
Through the use of demographic and psychographic data, our target consumer was comprehensively identified as the "Connected Idealist": a person who craves the freedom to be themself and who encourages independence and originality for themself and their families. Coupled with this target consumer, we clarified our brand character as "The Maverick": independent, carefree, bold, confident, energetic, and expressive.
Visually, Cicis moved its brand forward with its boldest evolution yet. The Cicis logo took a clean, simple, and contemporary new approach. "Pizza" was removed from our name to give life to our modifier "Beyond Pizza." This reinforced the notion of Cicis offering pasta, salad, soup, desserts, and a fun game room experience - more than just another pizza place. The logo visualizes this as well, uniting various colors around a central point to represent variety and unique individuals coming together.
In keeping with the focus on cleanliness and simplicity, the CiCi's apostrophe was removed and the second "C" became lowercased, completing the conversion from CiCi's Pizza to simply Cicis.
Bringing the brand to life in a contemporary yet comfortable environment was a crucial part of the rebrand. Our partnerships with Sterling-Rice Group on the brand and design, and with Atlanta-based Back Lot Productions helped develop an energetic color palette for a friendly and inviting atmosphere. This included a creative space design that's both inspiring and distinctive, with zones for individuals or families and groups, as well as a game room with its own entertaining theme. The restaurant experience will eventually include a new technology component that enables guests to satisfy their unique tastes, echoing the "Feeding Individuality" positioning.
Next up: Execution
The rollout of the new branding to restaurants in the construction pipeline, as well as to those undergoing renovations and upgrades, is already under way. We are very pleased with our new restaurant prototype design, which will debut in the second quarter of 2016.
As the leadership team, and in partnership with our Franchise Advisory Council, we are incredibly excited about the direction our brand is headed. A great deal of time and effort went into making sure our new logo, our updated look, and our new prototype fit what the brand represents from its roots.
We firmly believe that these changes are the right moves for the brand. It's an exciting time for Cicis.
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