Wing Zone – a fast-casual brand serving made-to-order, flavor-packed chicken wings – is getting a new look. Ten months after the acquisition by Capriotti’s, Wing Zone is rolling out a brand refresh which features technology upgrades that will solidify the brand as the fastest, most efficient technology operator in the segment, a revamped menu, an energized restaurant design and experience, a new logo and other assets designed to further position the brand as one of the undisputed leaders in the chicken wing category.
In this exclusive Q&A, we chat with David Bloom, chief development and operating officer of Wing Zone and Capriotti’s, about Wing Zone’s company-wide brand revitalization.
Franchise Chatter (FC): When Capriotti’s took ownership of the Wing Zone franchise this past January, did it do so with the understanding that a full-scale rebranding was going to be necessary?
David Bloom (DB): Wing Zone was a well-known rising star in the QSR industry long before Capriotti’s ever began talks of an acquisition with their team. That being said, growth and innovation are two core tenets at the heart of the Capriotti’s brand, and we were keen on the idea of exploring ways to amplify and push the growth that Wing Zone was already experiencing both domestically and internationally.
Part of our initial plan was to engage in a full brand optimization project, which we recently completed as a precursor to launching a number of corporate Wing Zone locations in the Las Vegas market, and franchised locations nationwide and abroad.
FC: New technology is playing a heavy hand in setting Wing Zone apart from competitors in this rebrand. What types of tech can we expect in the new and improved franchise locations?
DB: Leveraging technology and innovation is at the core of our go-forward brand optimization plan in both the front and back of the house. We will be testing several cutting-edge technologies to improve efficiency and position the brand for the accelerated growth we are already experiencing.
The updated branding considers every aspect of the consumer experience, as well as all front and back of the house operations including in-shop curated music and a thoughtful scent strategy, as well as automation equipment in the back-of-house that will effectively trim down cook time for our wings and cubbies designed for quick, grab-and-go pickup and delivery options.
All of that, along with updated brand positioning, logos and color scheme, self-order kiosks and myriad digital enhancements will be thoroughly tested prior to rolling out and made available to our franchise partners that are opening new shops to ensure that we continue to lead the way in chicken wings.
FC: With menu options that already include specialty-made, hand-crafted wings and 17 award-winning sauces, can Wing Zone fanatics expect any serious alterations or enhancements to the current menu?
DB: It’s our national award-winning flavor options and juicy tender wings that make our franchise the thriving business it has been for the last 25+ years. That being said, Wing Zone fanatics can rest assured that we aren’t getting rid of their favorite wing flavors in this rebrand. Rather, we will be unveiling a streamlined menu that puts the focus on our best-selling wings and tenders.
FC: How did you go about conducting the research to find out exactly what alterations consumers wanted to see in a revamped Wing Zone? What was the resounding sentiment in that research?
DB: When first beginning the brand optimization project, our focus started by examining the entirety of the global restaurant industry and what direction the wing sector was heading in. In our eyes, the most efficient way to provide a next-level dining experience for our guests was to learn what is happening globally, what our competitors were doing, and what our consumers valued and were asking for to determine how we could do it better.
We also spent a tremendous amount of time with the incredible Wing Zone founders and our passionate franchise partners to make sure we understood the current operation and appreciated the history of Wing Zone. We needed to deeply understand and appreciate what our current customers and franchise partners valued to make sure we didn’t lose the magic of Wing Zone. We were able to take those favorite menu items and flavors that they love and amplify them while positioning the brand for future growth by incorporating new innovative concepts and operational enhancements into a revamped Wing Zone.
Once we had a grasp on that, we conducted an immense amount of research with consumers and franchise partners to get their feedback on this brand update and how we could successfully meet and exceed their expectations. The resounding sentiment was a desire for more flavor, speed, efficiency, profitability and growth!
FC: What does the Wing Zone team envision the franchise looking like in 5 years’ time after the rebrand has gone into full effect at franchise locations around the country?
DB: The collective company goal is to reach 250+ locations with $1 million in average unit volume by 2025, and to establish a reputation for Wing Zone as a category leader in the restaurant franchise industry and as the wing shop that gets people the best wings and flavors really fast.
One significant early investment we are making in the brand is to open and operate a number of company shops with the updated brand elements. That allows us to continually build and test a robust innovation pipeline around operations, technology, product and platforms. They are also where we train and develop our growing team and franchise partners.
Owning and operating company shops also ensures that we are aligned with our franchise partners when it comes to daily operations and enhancing the return-on-investment model. Candidly, we are already well on our way to meeting and exceeding those goals as demand for the Wing Zone brand and our franchise opportunity has been off the charts!
Additionally, we already operate restaurants both domestically and internationally, have launched numerous ghost kitchens and virtual brands as well as expanded our Wing Zone Grill & Tap footprint, all of which will be a part of our future growth as well.