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How do you know it’s time for a brand refresh? Research.

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

The challenge of refreshing a brand is keeping the equity and familiarity of the old while establishing new relevance. So when do you know it's time to make the change? Michelle Holmes, director of marketing at James Coney Island, shares the research that went into their decision to give the brand a "face lift."

Robin: Hello, and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I am Robin Tooms, vice president of strategy at Savage Brands, and my guest on Brandonomics today is Michelle Holmes, director of marketing at James Coney Island. So Michelle, welcome.

Michelle: Hi, Robin. It’s an honor to be here.

Robin: Well, I want to talk today about your brand strategy. So obviously, James Coney Island is undertaking a brand refresh right now, but I want to hear why this  is the time for you to take a look at this Houston institution’s brand?

Michelle: Robin, you’re not the only one asking that question. James Coney Island is definitely a Houston icon, and we’ve gone about these changes after quite a bit of research with not only our current customers, but potential customers that we’re not capturing right now. But the reality is that the market trends are changing, and Houstonians have so much variety in dining options now, and costs are increasing. So we’ve realized that we can’t survive just selling hot dogs anymore, so now we’re trying to find that delicate balance between managing becoming relevant and our history.

Robin: So I’ve been reading the news stories, and one could assume from that that James Coney Island is rebranding, but actually, that doesn’t really sound like the case at all.

Michelle: Well actually, we like to look at what we’re doing more as a brand refresh than a complete rebranding strategy. James Coney Island is still very much a part of the brand and very prominent in the signage as we move forward. This is an important distinction because we’re not trying to change who we are. We’re just trying to give the brand a face lift. So what we’re trying to do is change our trade dress to be more reflective of the variety of the menu and grill items that we have now in our stores.

Robin: So that makes sense. So bringing together the outside appearance into really who the company is today.

Michelle: Absolutely, and again, just trying to be a little more hip and relevant with today’s trends.

Robin: That makes a lot of sense. Well thank you, Michelle, for sharing that.

Michelle: Thank you.

Robin: This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.


A Houston icon since 1923, James Coney Island has a long history of serving the best hot dogs in the city. Striving to offer service above and beyond the average quick-service dining establishments, the restaurants now offer a wide variety of food off the grill and the same great atmosphere it’s had since the Papadakis brothers founded it.


Michelle was also featured at an AMA Houston luncheon on this topic.

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